Review: Pollock Confidential: A Graphic Novel
When it comes to character actors, they rarely get their due unless they play against less talented ones. Case and point, take actor Michael Kelly whose onscreen presence was a firm and steady had in House Of Cards. He parlayed that onto other roles, most recently, the last season of Jack Ryan. His even-tempered performance can be seen in other actors of his time, more specifically the recently deceased Irrfan Khan.
Another actor, whose performances are so even-keeled yet polarizing, is Ed Harris. Fans will know him from his role in Westworld but I remember first seeing him in Field Of Dreams. Though he has acted in many projects, the one that I felt somehow connected to him was his portrayal of Jackson Pollack in Pollack, where he showed the late artist’s genius, unconventional nature, and vision, and showcased Harris as a chameleon much like the man he portrayed. This is why when I found out Onofrio Catacchio was writing a book about this enigmatic visionary, in Pollock Confidential, I was more than elated, as he probes more into the artist’s story than Harris was able to.
We’re taken to 1974 Rome, where we meet Dan Adkins, a Cultural Attache from the US Embassy, who is meeting with Palma Bucciarelli, the director of Rome’s National Gallery of Art, where they are discussing the loaning of one of Pollack’s pieces for a period of time. We are taken even further back in time to 1948 New York, where we find out that the CIA had a program where they promoted abstract expressionism and American art across the world to ensnare themselves in foreign territories known as “Operation Long Leash”. As they looked at abstract expressionists like Pollack to be their key to immersing themselves in other countries. As we find out that Adkins, is actually a CIA agent, and he is one of the first operatives to recruit artists like Pollack, as his dossier on the artist shows the reader that he was thought to be an alcoholic, a Communist sympathizer and a lover of jazz. He would eventually catch the attention of Peggy Guggenheim, a wealthy heiress who had a passion for art and even owned a gallery called “Art of the Century”, where he would open up his first exhibit, where he would paint his first milestone piece, “Mural”. Adkins would closely monitor not only Jackson but his wife, Lee, while at the same time becoming a fan of his art, as he saw he developed what would become his signature art style, something he would call “dripping”. As his art becomes increasingly unique so did his political leanings as he joined a group of artists known as “The Irascibles”, who were politically minded and stood against detractors of “modern art” like the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s director. He would eventually be considered the greatest artist of his time, as Adkins would gain his confidence, and get him to speak to everything about his life, from his rural upbringing in Wyoming to even his jail time and how he found his fervor for painting. Before long, Operation Long Leash would end, and Dan would be called back to New York for a different operation. As life went on, so did Pollack, as his art became even more powerful, but so did his vices, as he started drinking again, which would affect his relationship with Lee, which causes her to leave for France on her own. Jackson would move on also, starting a relationship with an art student named Ruth, who one afternoon, was in the car together, along with one of her friends, where they had an unfortunate accident, which killed Jackson and left the two women badly injured. By the book’s end, Adkins still finds himself in a quagmire in the man he came to know because he was the subject of his investigation but who he came to know as his friend.
Overall, a powerful book that gives you answers about the man much like Harris’ motion picture did but also leaves enough mystery for those who have yet to discover this icon. The story by Catacchio is moving, shrouded in mystery, and exciting. The art by Catacchio is enchanting. Altogether, a book that is more than must-read but more, a must-have.
Story: Onofrio Catacchio Art: Onofrio Catacchio
Story: 9.8 Art: 9.9 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy