The Silent Ladder – or – Le Frottage de Scott Covert



If one were to say that Scott Covert is a world traveler, or said that Scott Covert creates complex paintings while traveling the world, or were to say that Scott Covert creates word maps made of grave rubbings he compiled tracing his world travels, still one wouldn’t begin to decode the surfaces, or, the deeper meaning of the paintings of Scott Covert.  One wouldn’t begin to scratch the surface, considering the depth of and diversity of what he brings to life based on the deaths of those who committed their lives to making significant cultural contributions to mankind. 

Frottage, or the technique of creating an image by rubbing, (as with a pencil), over an object placed underneath the paper, or a composition so made, is a technique used for centuries by students of architecture, anthropology, and archeology (hieroglyphics).  As applied to, or, in regard to grave rubbings, both students and professors of history have used it as a hobby and again as a study tool.

Scott Covert has reinforced the idea that what is often considered a most esoteric application of frottage, grave rubbings, as it was commonly used as a Victorian souvenir craft, could by sheer will, be elevated to become high Art.  Normally handled, a single grave rubbing was missing the stories of, and the level of humanity, which is captured in the paintings of Scott Covert.  As these frottage paintings are his most significant cultural contributions, they are reflective of the chaotic complexity of our global collective conscientiousness.  

The travelogue paintings of Scott Covert set out to accomplish lofty goals.  While they glorify and celebrate the full spectrum of man’s achievements and failures, they also examine the simple frailty, and inevitability of our mortality.  If we look at the layers of names and dates, the religious symbols, the human inscriptions such as loving mother or father, or caring brother, we get a sense of the interconnectedness of us all.

Unconsciously, Scott is capturing the essence of our consciousness.  When we are conscious we are aware.  Conscientiousness is being aware and related to each other in a cognitive manner. When fully empathetic, we become aware of the beauty of the struggle in others achievements.  Similarly when one romanticizes our own youth, and look back fondly at the struggle one can only endure when one possesses youth.  Scott Covert’s paintings magnify the beauty of gaining recognition, of dreams accomplished.

If we were viewing the linear history of art based on the paintings from the second half of the twentieth century, through a backward telescope, we can clearly see two roads of methodologies converge; that of Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism.

Utilizing peoples cult like knowledge of popular culture, Scott Covert ‘builds a name for himself’ by literally scaling the piled up names of other artists, writers, poets, architects, musicians, magicians, cowboys, actors, presidents, slaves, masters, winners, and losers, and on and on, and so on, and so forth.  This idea is based on popular culture, taken from sources as disparagingly different as television, history or science books, Hollywood movies, newspapers, political magazines, the internet, oral histories from people older than himself, obituaries, and anywhere reliable information is available.  Clearly, a POP ideology.  Whereas the technique of what it is that the viewer sees, what is painted on the canvas, from the under painting up, has all the elements, the kinetic cliché, the manual dexterity, the deft hand of abstract expressionism.  The speed of the drawing Scott finds necessary to use during his stealth visits to graveyards and mausoleums, creates the quality of ‘action paintings’, but due of the density of the materials required to make a permanent rubbing on canvas, a surface of “manic expressionism” begins to emerge. 

Artists such as Edward Averdisian, a discovery of Henry Geldzaldher in the early 1960’s, tried to combine POP Art with Abstract Expressionism at the very time when they couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed.  Later Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein both came to realize the necessity, usefulness and beauty of the brushstroke, trademark of Abstract Expressionism.  It is also the underpinning of all of Scott Covert’s paintings.

Might Scott Covert actually be asking us to look at what mankind can accomplish; to look collectively at what brings mankind joy, or pleases our sense of beauty, or redirects or redefines or pushes the definition of what might be considered beautiful?  Asking what deserves acknowledgment; or asking those viewing his paintings to examine what actions, as a society, we might want to avoid so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

When we closely examine the paintings of Scott Covert and see beyond the obvious elements of camp, beyond the humor, dark and distressing.  When we take a hard look we can see beyond the public persona of those names on his paintings; his collaborators; beyond common knowledge, search beyond what we often find is much too difficult to face, to think of, or to difficult to discuss:  - death.  Yes in these paintings we are being asked to look beyond death.  Just what are we supposed to be able to see beyond death?  Beyond death’s presumed afterlife, looking beyond any personal reservations, overtly humorous, Scott Covert covertly celebrates life. 

 Patrick Fox
New York City


The artist, native to Edison New Jersy, and recent expatriate of Manhattan Island, points to a convertable Ford Mustang rental when I ask where he lives. Covert, Like Blanche DuBois, is currently dependent on the kindness of strangers, friends, & Hertz Rent-A-Car.

I wouldn't call Covert a painter. A rubber perhaps. An artist, indubitably. He admits to a body of work, or at least a style, previous to his current corpus, but everyone has a past, and Rosa Venus is not one to judge. "Take a person at face value,' mother always said, 'as long as his face is clean." The current face of Covert's cannon began in 1985, when he made a pilgrimage to the Detroit cemetery where Florence Ballard Chapman (1943-1976), "Flo" of the origional Supremes music group, is buried. The dead Supreme was Covert's first rubbing ("I forgot my camera"), but in the intervening decade and a half, she has become a major leitmotif in his global portfolio.

Call it a love Supreme.

Flaunt magazine, written by Rosa Venus