This small painting, with its mostly bare background, directs one’s attention to the body of a fallen man. Although the space is not clearly delineated, there are just enough brushstrokes to depict the uneven surface of dirt on the ground. The man looks upward, having lost his helmet, and we catch a glimpse of his striped black-and-white shirt.
With a striking economy of paint, Travis (After the Fall) presents Gustave Blache’s view of the “Angola” Louisiana State Penitentiary Rodeo. Held five times a year at the maximum-security prison, the event serves as entertainment for thousands of the general public, who pay to watch as “volunteer inmates” compete for awards. Blache’s work raises questions about spectatorship within an unusual venue, one where the performers, such as Travis, have been removed from society but are nonetheless a popular attraction.
Click here to read the transcript of an interview between Gustave Blache and Travis Johnson.