Hedonize my Ass is a crowd scene in the tradition of the great battle paintings of Paolo Uccello. The viewer is presented with an enclosed picture space with gyrating figures in the foreground. Looking on directly at the scene from eye-level, the viewer becomes present in the painting as a dispassionate observer.
Hedonize shares these formal elements with another of Czupryn’s paintings Baton Blows, and indeed the artists conceived the two as a dynamic pair. Both images display the same interest in what the artist calls ‘decomposing’ the body. The viewer is able to see through the complicated tangle of forms with ease, aided by their transparency and distortion. Each one is rendered in the delicate trompe l’oeil fashion typical of Czupryn’s work, but here they form a more complex and more varied parade than in previous paintings.
Rather than being complementary, however, Baton Blows and Hedonize are perhaps better seen as reactions against each other. The violence of the former is replaced by the absolute hedonism of the latter; the body not distorted out of rage or injury but psychedelia. As opposed to the emaciated parody of muscular fascism, these are queered bodies, enjoying themselves in this painted Berghain.
The scene is awash with debauchery: the dancing, the drugs, the sexual poses. A triangle-faced figure with an ugly scowl proffers a large blue pill to a woman sprawled on the bar, his other hand caught in some other seedy exchange. A man and woman, their angular bodies resembling clothes’ dryers, are locked in a taught embrace, their interlocking forms seeming to both pull apart and move together.
This is a brightly coloured crowd no doubt, but beneath this veneer a deeply unhappy scene reveals itself. More than one face is locked in the grimace of a bad trip: a checkerboard-bodied figure, tongue laden with pills and staring eyes, howls in terror. Whilst this scene appears shuttered off from the world in its own nightmarish existence one can surmise that the hell of Baton Blows has infected even here. Perhaps the dancers are wilfully ignorant, but one has the sense that their hedonism and fear are both reactions to the world of fascist violence outside. In this context, the title becomes a provocative statement of rebellion.