Postmodern Trippy Poker Pop Art on Display at WPT-London

by , Sep 1, 2010 | 6:09 am

Detail from “Superstar Satellite” (above) and “Big Chick, Crabs and Snowmen” (below) – Oils on canvas – by Lisa Jane.

Those Brits, I tell you what … whether talking literature, theatre, or visual high art, they just always seem to be a tick ahead of mass-America when it comes to anything culture. Not being a self-loathing Yanker in saying that … just acknowledging why it’s hardly surprising that art would be a part of September’s massive poker activities in London.

* It’s hard to tell if Jane’s paintings are being deferential to highly regarded American poker artists who preceded her, or if she’s mocking them.

English painter Lisa Jane opens her first solo exhibition in the UK today, called “Poker in the Eye” — a multi-casino show of poker-inspired works that runs through the end of the month in London’s Mayfair district. Her paintings will be on display at the Maxim Casino, in the Palm Beach Casino’s tournament room — site of the currently running WPT-London Poker Classic — and down the street at Crockford’s, the world’s oldest private gaming club and assumed venue for the biggest cash games in Europe this week. Considering that “Crocky’s” has been hosting nobility-stakes action since 1828, it kinda makes you wonder about the WPT’s London kickoff … can you really call something a “classic” when it was est. 2010?

Regardless, because we are high-minded folks at Pokerati (seriously, minored in art history and shit) and want our readers to appreciate the finer things in life, we cut a deal with some down-on-their-luck art thieves to get you a sneak peek at some of Jane’s work from the show … while yours truly tries to remember what art (and art criticism) was really all about before the days of blogging.

Click to enlarge the images below.

In her works highlighted by stark colors and whimsical story lines, it’s hard to tell if Jane, presumably a fine lady from Lewes, is being deferential to highly regarded American poker artists who preceded her, or if she is just mocking them. I mean Leroy Neiman is great and all — you can clearly see his influence in “Bluffing” — but really, after so many years and prints in the discount bin, his prize homage to the game that hangs in Bobby’s Room looks like something my parents briefly hung over the fireplace before relegating it to Dad’s woodshop in the garage.

Sure, you can argue that Nieman is more post-impressionist than impressionist in the evolution of poker art — even neo-Cloissonist to an extent — but Jane shows a willingness to push the visual expressions of 21st century Texas Hold’em to a more Dadaist extreme … all while taking playful stabs at surrealism, natch. 🙂

Detail from “Bluffing” – Oil on canvas – 70 x 100 cm

While scholars will debate Jane’s intended statement here, I’m still trying to figure out who’s the tournament photographer who got in her shot.

Jane does more than just capture historic poker happenstance on canvas. Using boldly hued situational imagery and suggestive structures, she infuses her take on a made-for-TV poker world with distinct splashes of darkness, trepidation, and even LSD. Not suggesting she was actually tripping while creating what some might call her semi-revolutionary work, but in terms of imagery progression … true patrons of the poker arts — a hungry bunch for sure — need little reminder that the closest thing they’ve seen to Duchamp’s Fountain has probably been TJ Cookier.

Unambomber and Unabombshell – Oil on canvas – 91 x 122 cm

Here, suggestions of Phil Laak as a mangled Vader behind the mask seem especially suiting after his recent wipeout, but I’m pretty sure Jennifer Tilly’s boobs are bigger in real life.

Charcoal and Oil on canvas – 70 x 100 cm

This might be one of the most awesomely whimsical interpretations of Doyle Brunson’s victory ever. Such stoic grace and playful fortitude in infinite space! Pretty sure “whimsical” is still an important phrase in professional art criticism, too.

Charcoal and Oil on canvas – 70 x 100 cm


Charcoal and Oil on canvas – 70 x 100 cm

Hmmm … yes … the life and death of Sailor Roberts as per two violent jacks holding up in ’75 … Something to ponder …

“Gravy Train” – Charcoal and Oil on canvas – 70 x 100 cm

Supposedly James Akenhead has already bought this one — a testament to Jane’s skill as a visual artist and the November Niner’s purpose in life.

“Superstar Satellite” – Oil on canvas – 70 x 100 cm

And here you can really tell where the acid starts to kick in … At this point it seems only a matter of time before someone calling clock starts to melt.

“Big Chick, Crabs and Snowmen” – Oil on canvas – 91 x 122 cm

Oh, now I get it … Devilfish!

Overall review: good art. Better than the rubbish at Caesars or Wynn for sure.

For more of the finest poker art now showing in Europe, check out

2 Comments to “Postmodern Trippy Poker Pop Art on Display at WPT-London”

  1. Garth at FPA

    I like Cowboy Jesus and the Satan Fish. I hope Jesus wins! These are funny, but I wouldn’t have called them Pop Art.

  2. DanM

    Tough to classify, but I felt “pop” was ok because of the use of common figures in poker-popular culture, a la, Hellmuth ≈ marilyn monroe … and use of barbie dolls, the strange devil-head etc. in collage-like fashion … figured yeah, it’s got elements of Pop.

    felt reassured when i saw stuff from the artist herself listing “pop art” in the show’s descriptor. “Postmodern” was the word I used in the hedline that I was most uncertain about.