by Carlos Batts
About the Book
Madness and genius collide in American Gothic, photographer-filmmaker-artist Carlos Batts’ answer to Grant Wood’s famous 1930 portrait of the same name: that granite-faced, pitchfork-totin’ embodiment of what this country was three-quarters of a century ago. America in 2005 is a very different matter.Fuse Romare Bearden with Man Ray, and you might come close to Batts’ vivisection of America’s diseased soul. In 128 pages of experimental photography and mixed-media, Batts tortures the negative itself to bring forth frenzied, expressionistic hybrids of horror and beauty. Published in softback and limited edition slipcase editions by Baltimore’s Scapegoat Publishing, American Gothic is Batts’ third book and the one most reflective of the artist himself. To be certain, Batts’ previous efforts for the German publisher Edition Reuss, Wild Skin and Crazy Sexy Hollywood, were distinguished by a unique, readily-identifiable style, one that’s proved immensely popular here and overseas. But in both books there is always the sense that the artist is giving us exactly what we as voyeurs want. American Gothic, on the other hand, is Batts’ pure, unadulterated artistic vision, one not tweaked for the mass-market or meant to satisfy bourgeois tastes.
Batts’ work is well-known in the worlds of rock, fetish and fashion and admired by discerning, risk-taking gallerist, such as Merry Karnowsky of Los Angeles’ Merry Karnowsky Gallery. However, with American Gothic, Batts is bursting onto the art scene with a tour de force reminiscent of when Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano first shook the world with their controversial imagery. Following in the photographic footsteps of these innovators, Batts has created an oeuvre impossible to ignore, one that burrows into your cranium and devours your preconceptions of what art and photography are all about. Like seeing a David Lynch film for the first time or a painting by Egon Schiele, the tectonic plates of the possible will shift as you leaf through this book. Afterwards, nothing will be the same. Here is the yardstick by which to measure art. Here is the birth of the new.
Contains a full length compact disc by musicians: Mastodon, Pg. 99, Swarm of the Lotus, Pig Destroyer, Dog Fashion Disco, Radiation 4, Daybreak, Buzzoven, Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
About the Artist
Carlos grew up in Baltimore sandwiched between John Waters and The WIRE, taking snapshots of cadavers and naked people. Rather than take the traditional serial killer route, a collection of his work was put into a massive coffee table book, WILD SKIN by Edition Reuss that was followed by CRAZY SEXY HOLLYWOOD his second book which was his surreal depiction of sunny LA. He has completed his epic third book and film AMERICAN GOTHIC, an interpretation of the classic painting (Scapegoat Spring 2005).Those infected with and attracted to his warped vision include Vibe, Hustler, Maxim, National Enquirer, Agfa Film, New Line Cinema, SKY SPIRITS, and Century Media Records.
He now lives in Hollywood with his muse Lillian and stinky dog BABY.
View his official website: www.carlosbatts.com
“Reasoning has nothing to do with taking a look at American Gothic, the compiled works of multimedia artist Carlos Batts. You either look past the collage of a skull that’s both eerily alive and dead on the front cover or you’re fascinated by the cover artwork itself! The imagery might give you pause with feelings of disdain but whatever emotions begin to play havoc on you, you will be forced, by pangs of curiosity, to open up the pages and take in all the descriptive images within American Gothic.
While this isn’t Batts’ first foray into the publishing world – his third actually – he’s also created a multitude of cover artwork for like minded musicians.
The artwork that fills American Gothic jumps off their pages, not simply because images are so strong but because for many of his pieces, Batts uses colors that leap right alongside. Dark tones, deep reds, majestic blacks; all these hues are combined to create a dramatic effect that’s reflective in Batts’ eye. Don’t misunderstand though, American Gothic has nothing to do with the faux darkness of Goth kids wearing eyeliner and dressing in the chicest vinyl. American Gothic isn’t representative of what Marilyn Manson is to music but rather what Charles Manson would be to art.”
– Ghettoblaster Magazine
“Taken all together, it is a very scary package. But as with any work of art, you’re welcome to draw your own conclusions. The book shrieks for itself. Whether you see an apocalyptic present, a fucked up future or merely a manipulative artist is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. Or that disembodied eyeball on page 48.”
– Abby Ehmann Eros Zine London
“Startling, shocking, vivid, confrontational. Never less than fascinating. Carlos Batts continues his fearless experimentation with form, style, and content to create a visionary gallery of horror and beauty.”
– Ellen Datlow
Editor of Blood is Not Enough, Alien Sex, and The Dark
“If you put Matthew Barney and Helmut Newton’s masterpieces through a meat grinder- and seasoned it with the Byzantine elegance of Duccio- the result would be the disturbing Gothic elegance of Carlos Batts’s work.”
Contributor- Fangoria Magazine
Trends Reporter – Moving Pictures Magazine