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.