Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Refresh at PG Contemporary


Alex Blau - Black Pinwheel - New Day - 2011
Acrylic on Canvas - 27 x 27

ModernHouston.net repost of my article from April 2012.

PG Contemporary has an impressively campy little group show coming up that blends the works by artists Alex Blau, Julon Pinkston, Ji Yong Kim and several others. I say campy, but in a charmed loving way. Art that has a little fun in the process and images that trick the eye can play on the edge  of silly, but many of these artists seem well practiced in their craft for me to not take them seriously. An element of kitsch is at work here, but only to the edge of kitsch. What is kitsch?

One of my old professors describes it in this question and answer, “why are other people’s babies cute, because you don’t have to feed them, change them, and deal with them when they are mad.” Fortunately, these artists seem to have some sense of reality, while musing on the playful nature artists can have.

Alex Blau’s paintings are what I like to call, Plastic Fantastic. Rounded edges, glowing colors, and a caked on feel makes these geometric paintings very attractive, but I can see how the images and color combination add up to being close to kitsch. Blau seems to go right up to the edge of kitsch and taunts it for a while. Luckily, Blau manages to pull back enough to make it work. I think the illusion to absurdly simple shapes like flowers, burst of lines, and a rocket make me a little apprehensive. I want to embrace the cuteness, but I feel a little
embarrassed I like these.


Julon Pinkston has made an interesting shift in his current body of work. Pinkston hasn’t abandoned simulating the real; he just moved from mixing and mashing highly rendered charcoal drawings of road litter to reproducing the texture that looks like duct tape on canvas. These little paintings feel as if you could peel off all the tape to expose the raw canvas, but in truth, the tape is really made of paint. Some work that seems to relate with Pinkston’s art are the paintings by Marzia Faggin. Also in the show, Faggin is copying the look of food by using materials like plaster, glue, and acrylic. Other than Gustav Klimt, I thought the use of gold paint would never work, but somehow
Ji Yong Kim pulls it off. Normally you see abstract art with something shiny on the surface and you expect the rest to be amateurish and kitsch, but Yong Kim plays with our expectation and gives us a little more sophisticated mark making through the layers of paints and shifting of techniques.

The complete list of artists is Alex Blau, Melanie Crader, Marzia Faggin, Frances Goodman, Lindsay Nobel, Julon Pinkston, Micha Patiniott, and Ji Yong Kim. And the show looks to me as if all the artists are enjoying themselves immensely. I had a great deal of conflicting feelings about these artists, but I think I was won over, I think. Up until May 19 at
PG Contemporary, this edge of kitsch show is a worthwhile adventure.


ModernHouston.net for more images.

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