These transcendentally intergalactic images are like cryptic icons from the future. I’m pretty sure this is what it would look like if an alien landed on earth and created a transmission from his ship that beamed down a chronological history of time cascading into future mankind straight into your dreams.
Marsha Pels poetically recontextualizes found objects of power and politics. Cohesion in her works is achieved though this particular modus operandi, though not necessarily in subject matter. Her gutsy recent exhibit at Schroeder Romero, “Dead Mother, Dead Cowboy,” made a connection between the recent death of her mother and abandonment by her partner. Artworks within this exhibition included a fluorescent lit, crystal-clear casting of Pels’ mother draped in mink stoles, her ex-lover on a deconstructed motorcycle, and castings of her own hands made in her mother’s gloves. For lack of a better word, this personal and haunting expose on desire, loss and morning is brave—laying bare an honest, and witty personal narrative. Recently Marsha discussed her creative inspiration, and her in-depth thought process behind her recent sculptural series.
Brian Willmont is a multi-talented creative. Along with his partner, Cody Hoyt, he spearheads Apenest, a design/art collective that self-produces collaborative silkscreens, graphics and a stunning full color book showcasing a stable of brilliant contemporary artists. Beautiful/Decay recently received a copy of their book and was blown away by the attention to design and the quality of the artists included. As an artist, Willmont also creates invididual work—his stunning works on paper detail an idiosyncratic personal vocabulary, often leaning towards fantastical situations, brightly colored in a hyperspectra of acid-induced prismatic color. Lurking beneath the enticing exterior, however, a darker, more apocalyptic narrative manifests itself; apparent in Willmont’s depiction of decaying architectural structures and implied destruction.
Katherine Sherwood creates sumptuous paintings that visualize, in a lyrical and esoteric fashion, the age old metaphysical concerns of the body, life after death, and the tenuous relationship between art and science. Sherwood’’s works exhibit a Buddhist, Zen-like approach to color, form and composition, elegantly balanced and unafraid of both dense areas of joyous, swirling patterns and passages of silent, empty space. Just below the seemingly abstract planes is a latent structure of corporeal diagrams, such as angiograms, brittle tree-like linear nerve endings, and mystical Solomon’s seal, lending the paintings a religious, even ecstatic talisman-like quality.
Larissa Bates both celebrates the male gender identity within the history of art while struggling to disassemble heteronormative understandings. As a way to foreground these issues, Larissa has assembled a motley cast of idiosyncratic characters, all of her own invention. Like a method actor, Larissa has delved deep within the psychis of her creations, their implications and motivations. Set within the backdrop of expressive pastoral scenes, influenced by the work of Nicholas Poussin, hoards of fantasy creations lead their grandiose dramas. Larissa recounts the struggles of her imagined MotherMen, Lederhosen Boys, and Little Napoleons in an epic practice not unlike Henry Darger’s warring Vivian Girls. Her current body of work, “Just Hustle and Muscle” is on view at the Monya Rowe Gallery in New York, from now until October 18th.
Huma Bhabha is not unlike a medieval alchemist, transmuting discarded materials into works of art—morphing civilization’s dusty detritus into works of stunning beauty. They freely collapse ideological mores, the annals of history, contemporary art, yet transcend concretized fact or fiction. Instead, they resurrect their charred faces, standing as relics from a near distant future, or war-ravaged effigies to a post-apocalyptic past. This practice of temporal and physical shape-shifting seems to be both esoteric and playful at once—Bhabha notes that “turning lead into gold, or at least trying…is more interesting than just using gold.” Her visceral effigies are perhaps best described as “anti-monuments;” her works, in their materiality, do not desire permanence—rather, Bhabha formalizes their very transience through her use of ephemeral, corruptible and humble materials.
Olivier Blanckart’s works are fashioned using every day materials, such as construction paper, cardboard and tape. These non-confrontational, nostalgic, children’s craft oriented materials, alongside the humorous quality of the works, are effective tools of seduction. Once Blanckart reels the viewer in, with his jovial aesthetic, it becomes clear that a darker, disturbed political commentary underlies, canonizing and raising up figures for inspection and in many cases, subversion. It is this two-pronged attack– drawing in with the a unique pop sensibility, then attacking with sharp-witted critique– that makes Blanckart’s works truly compelling.