American artist Julie Speed has attracted an enthusiastic following for her paintings, collages, constructions, and drawings that use a skewed form of realism to open vistas into psychologically complete, yet contradictory worlds vacillating between the ominous and the hilarious. Painted or crafted with the meticulous attention to detail of an Old Master, Speed’s works show an ultramodern awareness through sly references to current events, enigmatic elements that introduce unresolved and unresolvable threats and anxieties, and an ironic, even black, sense of humor.
This book presents work created by Julie Speed since 2003. In series such as The Murder of Kasimir Malevich, Bible Studies, and Still Life with Suicide Bomber, Speed refers to “real things—whether to events in her own life or to those taking place in some distant part of the world—but filtered through a mind that is unusually keen and imaginative, and that is preoccupied by a desire to make sense of the absurdities that permeate the contemporary condition,” according to Elizabeth Ferrer. Joining Speed in a creative collaboration of artist and writer is acclaimed author A. M. Homes. Her short story “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, written in response to Speed’s recent work, shows a similar affinity for the anomalous in telling the story of a mysterious phone call being investigated by the Phenomena Police. Completing the volume is an essay by art historian Elizabeth Ferrer, who provides both philosophical and art historical context for Speed’s self-taught painting style, and an artist’s statement by Speed, who describes her creative process and the complex ways in which representation and geometric abstraction interact in the composition of her work.