First friday boy art

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Roland Becerra‘s art has always portrayed families. It’s his family of course, even though they’re portrayed at times as scaly green aliens. That’s one reason I’ve always loved the young painter’s narrative works, which turn up each summer at Lapelle Gallery. For who among us doesn’t occasionally feel their family comes from Mars?

This is Becerra’s sixth solo show with Lapelle and like in past years, the artist has installed a large body of work, some new, some from previous shows. He lays it out with a kind of cinematic rhythm. Small works that depict empty interiors bathed in spooky green light are followed by people shots. This year, the humans for the most part are pasty-faced and caught looking over their shoulders — imagine Girl with a Pearl Earring with a tummy ache.

Other years there’s been intimations of violence in the works, with blood making a big splash a few years back. This year, there’s no new blood although a few works from that memorable show appear as reminders.

This year, instead, there’s a sense of expectation hanging over the works — lots of empty interiors, hallways, kitchens, bathrooms — all seem like Hitchcock rooms before the crime.

There are two new alien anthemic pieces, “Rider,” and “Father” which are like anchors for the show grounding the narrative in weirdness and family. Both depict Becerra’s trademark king of aliens creature, a reptilian hybrid with human head. In “Rider,” the king is mounted on his steed (a masked dinosaur, image right) and looking serene and happy. Echoes of David’s Napoleon on horseback are all over the sci-fi piece set on a red planet. Even the dinosaur, with its white ruffled chest hair and long lacey cuffs, echoes French frou frou dressing of yore.

“Father,” which depicts two no-neck monsters playing beside dad’s throne, also echoes scenes of courtly painting. (top image)

For my money, Becerra still is the best example of how to breathe life into narrative painting. I’ll write more of all this in PW on July 21.

Yoder at Nexus

Karl Yoder‘s ten, grimacing self-portraits at Nexus reminded me first of the Disney cartoon character Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast,” an animated I watched a lot with my kids when it first came out. Gaston, a lug and a bufoon does a lot of facial emoting and doesn’t get the girl.

Yoder’s not making cartoon cells, of course. (image left is one of the ten works) This is a serious body of work by an artist (PAFA MFA 2001) who is also a Philadelphia mural painter. This exhibit whets my appetite for more Yoder. I’d like to see what the artist could do with narrative and I hope he takes a long hard look at Roland Becerra’s show. Becerra, too, occasionally paints himself grimacing.

Next post, I’ll tell you about some girl art, Birds of Prey, at Space 1026.

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