Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Never Have I ever Had Sex in an Art Gallery

Sex and Intimacy. Being that I am a female it is needless to say that these two words stir up more emotion in my gut than any of the infamous 4 letter ones. They are two of the most feared and desired experiences, and provoke intimidatingly strong emotions, making them the perfect candidate for artists and authors to manipulate and play with.
Sarah Kurz’s show (which unfortunately already ended) at Allegra LaViola Gallery titled “Made for Love” explored this explicitly. Most of the works were paintings of women, beautiful works where warm colors and a realistic hand created a sense of intimacy between the viewer and the subject. Some of the paintings were more traditional face portraits, where others used cropped body parts or covered faces to show the subject from another perspective.
Sarah Kurz: "Tight Fit"

“Tight Fit” was the first of her works that caught my attention. The horizontal perspective reminded me of post-coital bed sessions with my new partner looking slightly disheveled yet inarguably beautiful. Kurz puts you in an intimate situation with a stranger, a beautiful red-head who has a telling look in her eyes.

This is without a doubt one of Kurz’s strongest skills and definitely one of the reasons I felt myself falling in love with each of the girls I slept with while walking through Allegra LaViola: the eyes she creates are amazing. There are about 12 dozen clich├ęs about eyes and the soul and I will allow the reader to put whichever one they would like to here. The point is that Kurz captures emotion in the eyes of her subjects so well that the viewer almost forgets that there is even a third omnipresent person in this bed, too: the artist. 
Sarah Kurz: "Don't you Think you Should?"

The second image where Kurz’s eyes caught me was in “Don’t you Think you Should?” If the title didn’t make your mind scream sex, the image does. Brown locks sprawl out on white sheets while a coy brunette peaks her eyes out at me. The majority of her face is hidden behind a crumpled sheet, but her eyes exude warmth among the cool blue-tinted colors of the rest of the work. In answer to the question posed into the title: yes, I think I should.

Sarah Kurz: "I've Done It Before"
“I’ve Done It Before” is one of the images where Kurz doesn’t paint the face at all. Hair cascading down the back of a nude woman who pulls on her panty-hose (or off? For some reason in my narrative, the subject and I were already naked. She’s getting dressed now.). Despite lacking a visual connection with the face of the subject, there is still a strong connection between the subject and I. On the scale of love and lust, however, this seems to sit closer to the lust end then the soft, intimate eyes of “Tight Fit”.
Other than these beautiful, sex-exuding portraits (including one painting of a set of somehow cherubic breasts —in a totally natural non-pornographic way), there were a few scenic portraits done as well. You weren’t naked in bed, but you still got that same passionate lust/love emotion.

Sarah Kurz: "I Love You More"
 For me, the painting of the view from the window seat on an airplane fit right in with the others. Anyone who has ever bit their fingernails knowing that when the plane landed their lover would be at the airport with sloppy kisses and flowers understands how a portrait of that moment is just as real and emotional as looking into your lovers round and vulnerable eyes. It is even titled “I love you more”, the exact emotion that the flying lover always feels: I’m the one coming to visit (or even move in with) you: I love you more.

Jeila Gueramian: Find It
Simultaneously in the gallery’s downstairs segment, “Curiosities in Fabric” by Jeila Gueramian took me back to worlds I once created while reading Where the Wild Things Are (NOT THE MOVIE!) and Boom-Chica-Boom. 

Although I must admit that for me all the sex and intimacy going on with Kurz upstairs overshadowed this, it was a fun rendition of those childhood creatures you created in your mind. From one-eyed pillow monsters with plaid eyelids (Pet Rocks Series of 15) to the inside of a mysterious and (seemingly?) benevolent creature’s mouth in Jaws, meandering down the stairs into a childhood fantasy was playfully enjoyable—although in a completely less grown-up way than the lust and love from upstairs.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hell on Earth--Number 35 Gallery

© Megan Youngblood
          The apocalypse. The second coming. The end of life as it is. 
 When searching for the word “apocalypse”, Google finds 105 million websites in .18 seconds (compared to “Lady Gaga” who only returns a mere 97 million sites in .32 seconds).
Our society seems to be completely obsessed with our own impending doom—which is perhaps a testament to humanity’s innate narcissism as we seem to think that our time, our accomplishments, and our damage to the planet will cause the end of the earth within our lifetime.

© Megan Youngblood

This very current fixation does not only fascinate artists as a concept, but what also seems to interest artists is the fixation itself. Why are we all so obsessed with the “impending” end of the world (especially in the year 2012)?
In Charles Dunn’s show HELL ON EARTH at Numberthirtyfive gallery on Attorney Street, this idea is presumably at the forefront of the artists mind, an assumption made based on the events name, promo-card design, press release, and (maybe) the black skull sculptures present throughout the exhibit.
However, the oddity of this is that most of his artwork is not as morbid as the show’s title makes it out to be. In fact, many of his pieces are colorful abstractions that are about as horrifying and apocalypse-thought-inducing to look at as a rainbow (that is to say, not at all). Cute, small-scale multi-colored paintings and drawings hang from the wall opposite of large scale paintings of a similar style. The larger paintings use larger blocks of color, whereas the smaller use a more abundant palette with smaller portion sizes and a larger range of color. This is definitely one of Dunn’s strong points: his use of color.
© Megan Youngblood
The black, plexi-glass skulls hold their own sitting next to the colorful artworks on the walls. Their texture, layering and glossy-glamorous surface give them a visual appeal. Being that they are black and that they are skulls, there is the symbolic tie to death (this is the closest to “apocalypse” that is in this show), but their texture gives them a lighter mood—they are pretty damn pleasant for black skulls. These do not stand as the show’s sole sculptures, however.  There are white ball formations which are perhaps meant to make the viewer think about the most famously spherical object: the earth. There were also moon-rock-resembling sculptures situated sporadically on the floor throughout the exhibit.
 Although the promo-card features a drawing of Frankenstein and lettering that looks more like street art than anything in the exhibit (a strange idea—let’s make a promo-card that has little or nothing to do with the exhibit or the art in the exhibit), the art featured at Number 35 gallery is non-representational with the exception of the skulls, and none of them incorporate text.
Dunn uses his skill with color and textures to create compelling works in this gallery to great success. His colorful drawings and intricate sculptures have a strong visual appeal. The one faux-pas of this exhibit is the press release. Just because there is a buzz about the word “apocalypse” does not make it wise to use the word to apply to non-representational art. It does not give the work new meaning, but makes it look like the PR people are trying to.