Screwball art

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The Eagles vs. Green Bay were coming up in an hour, so to avoid the suspense of waiting, I headed to Vox Populi. An hour and a half later, behind schedule, I left the gallery, having had a quick love affair with the exhibit, “Screwball.”

I’m not really giving this a rave–just a big thumb up. After all, it was rather uneven and sometimes the humor was as low as you can go.

But I’ve always liked lighthearted art, and “Screwball’s” cast of both local and out-of-town artists laugh at everything, from themselves to romance and sex to poop to the self-important art world.

That last category belongs to artist Konstantin Kakanias, who takes pokes at who’s who in the art world. Worse for wearing fashion on their sleeves are Matthew Barney (shown above), Robert Smithson, Jeff Koons and la Cicciolina, Janine Antoni, Gilbert and George, Ana Mendieta and Chris Ofili, for example. As you can see from the list, Kakanias is an equal opportunity poker.

His drawings, covered with scribbles, all show his own alterego, one Mrs. Tependris, posing as each of his victims. One of my faves was Kakanias as Mrs. Tependris as Yasumasa Morimura as Vivien Leigh (as Scarlett O’Hara).

The only work that took up as much of my attention as Kakanias’ were the videos—four of them, all compelling to look at, although some of the humor made me a little queasy or just plain irritated.

Not Jim Torok’s “Lo-Tech Animation” video, which was an anti-video , with each rough cartoon action frame flashed as a slide (shown, image from “Running Man” segment). In the “Shootout Segment,” the gun slingers bleed a sea of blood as they continue standing and shooting, Blam, blam, one frame at a time. Animation and slick technology and classic story arcs all took sweet little lobs from Torok.

Matthew Suib’s “Hound’s on Fire (Abstract Aggressionism),” based on collages of Tex Avery cartoon hounds, punches the action up with a mandala-like approach to the imagery (shown left). Zen pit bull puppy imitates Jackie Chan.

John Goras’ “Chirpy” cartoon was anything but puppy love. It was love at first sight between a bird (shown right) and a (hung) horse, the atmosphere of romance supplanted eventually by twisted, heaving sex between the two. And then the dripping physicality is followed by the mismatched lovers walking off into the sunset. The two characters and the drawing were sweet and charming, but never has romantic love and its conventions taken such a beating. I had to watch the whole thing.

Apparently, this film is notorious, but its Web site has been disabled. Web rumor has it banned in London. I should say so. Hurry and see it.

Not only the boys would be boys. In Tricia McLaughlin’s “Homesteading (derive style)” DVD, a charming cartoon-man and -woman build a cartoon home in a real, ultra-closeup food landscape that turns out to be on a body part that, fortunately, perhaps, is barely recognizable, but which serves as the punch line. The sound of sawing gives one pause, and the juicy food close-ups were sexy in and of themselves. The body part in that context didn’t measure up.

Type A (Adam Ames and Adam Bordwin, two very competitive guys) offered a series of five photos that showed one guy getting another to laugh with his mouth full of milk, hence the title “Spittakes #5” (shown). He got me to laugh, too, and I haven’t a clue what he was saying.

Christopher Chiappa used a similar strategy of serial photos that indicate a course of action–head monumental against the sky, mouth painfully stuffed with firecrackers, turning from facing left to facing right (shown right, “Firecrackers”). This one puzzled me. Did I miss some reference here to Mt. Rushmore or something?

As for Chiappa’s “Wiener,” a hotdog sticking out of the wall, poop and penises just don’t seem all that funny to me unless there’s something else cooking, such as when the giant horse dong in Goras’ “Chirpy” swats Chirpy over and over, thereby ringing her bell.

I was glad to see that Charley Friedman was kind to his mother (we moms have to stick together), who was gracious enough to pose for his C-Print, “Mom” (shown left).

Ketta Ioannidou’s oil on canvas portraits of Greek goddesses (shown, “Bombshell”) as skinny runway models were pretty amusing, and it was nice to be reminded that women have senses of humor, too (yup, the show had only two women out of 10 contributors).

Show curator Chris Bors offered some scary misogyny of his own in his “Pinned Down”(shown left), quoting old cartoon characters. I was informed Bors created this painting just days after his marriage! I don’t know if he’s still married.

So go and have some laughs.

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