Imagination, opulence and whimsy take center stage with eye-boggling 3-D, pool-playing beetles and sly agitprop.
Forget minimalism. Forget abstraction. Sometimes what you need is something opulent, extravagant, even downright baroque. Three Seattle art galleries deliver the goods this month.
“Einar & Jamex de la Torre: Borders and Other Imaginary Fractals”
Visual delirium doesn’t come much better than this.
Einar and Jamex de la Torre are two Guadalajara-born brothers who now split their time between the San Diego area and Baja California. If you were wowed by their work at the Seattle Art Fair, you won’t want to miss their show at Prographica/KDR.
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“Einar & Jamex de la Torre: Borders and Other Imaginary Fractals” is divided between jokey works in glass and dazzling lenticular prints augmented with resin castings.
Lenticular printing, the gallery’s news release explains, is a multistep process that creates 3-D illusions and image-changing motion effects when you move to the left or right of the piece. The results can be eye-boggling.
“Rabbit Hole” is a mandala of iridescent colors and light that appears to recede toward infinite depths, although it’s only 3 inches deep. From one angle, “Transdifferentiation” depicts a human skull with its cerebrum exposed and its eye sockets sprouting daisies. From another angle, it has a cassette mix tape nailed to it with a No. 2 pencil, as loose tape unspools across its brow and down around its jawline. It’s like a fastidiously detailed anatomical drawing gone haywire.
“The Flaunting of Youth,” the grandest piece in the bunch, depicts a scene inside a gaudy pleasure palace that’s straight out of Bosch or Bruegel. Its ornamental pool is filled with frolicking nudes whose faces, when you move left or right, become those of Hollywood legends (Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.). At its margins, new arrivals join the fun, arriving by moped or golf cart, while up above, through barred windows in the palace’s domed ceiling, giant eyeballs spy on the festivities.
Compared to their lenticular prints, the brothers’ works in glass are mere afterthoughts. But “Chipper by the Dozen,” with its “Fargo”-flavored jest macabre, is a keeper.
10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays through Sept. 2, Prographica/KDR, 313 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle (206-999-0849 or www.koplindelrio.com).
Jennifer Angus: “Super Natural”
Filling every corner of MadArt Studio, Jennifer Angus’s installation “Super Natural” spins phantasmagoric 21st-century variations on Enlightenment-era “cabinets of curiosities.” It draws from the Wisconsin-based artist’s vast insect collection and incorporates dried flowers, animal skulls and Victorian wallpaper design as well. Not only that, but it’s chockablock with insect activity.
It’s distinctly anthropomorphic insect activity, especially where beetles are concerned. Under glass bell jars, these critters stay busy shooting pool, getting haircuts, reading books, attending weddings and marching in parades. Angus stands some of them on their hind legs and gives all of them big personalities.
While putting final touches on the exhibit last month, she pointed out a hybrid creation made of a South American longhorn beetle and a Japanese rhino beetle that she had sewn together and painted with glitter glue and gold paint. Her aim, she said, was “to make him extra spectacular.”
Moths and butterflies play a more decorative role in the show, elaborately framing hunters’ trophies (a gold-headed stag with black antlers, a black-headed bison with glittering gold horns, etc.) that Angus has mounted on the rear walls of the gallery.
“Super Natural,” as its title suggests, is epic in scale and surreal in character. It’s obsessed with repetition and surprise, both in its decorative motifs and unlikely materials. “I am attempting to create a multilayered work,” she says in her artist’s statement, “in which pattern is the vehicle.”
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Oct. 14, MadArt Studio, 325 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle; free (206-623-1180 or www.madartseattle.com)..
Shepard Fairey: “Printed Matters”
The creator of the Barack Obama “Hope” poster from the 2008 presidential campaign has been busy these past several years. And “Printed Matters,” a show of 90-plus Shepard Fairey prints on wood, metal and paper at Treason Gallery, makes clear that his work keeps growing more intricate and artful.
They’re agitprop pieces spiked with humor. Mix an Andy Warhol sensibility with Soviet propaganda posters, acid-rock album art and Art Deco flair, and you’ll have an idea of what he’s up to.
Highlights include “Church of Consumption” (with its warning that “the comforts you’ve demanded build your own prison of complacency”), “Royal Treatment Money” (a gasoline ad depicting Earth as a hand grenade about to blow) and “Put Up or Shut Up” (with its tongue-in-cheek tagline “All the free speech money can buy!”).
Fairey’s compositions are as bold as his content is barbed and his pop-art energy has masterful technique behind it. His messages are too double-edged and wry to feel like mere scolding.
Noon-6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through Sept. 2, Treason Gallery, 319 Third Ave. S., Seattle (206-257-5513 or www.treasongallery.com).