Sunday, June 28, 2009

Campbell, Vis, Nichols and Gilmore at Good Children

The Generic Art Solutions guys are at it again. Famous for their Art Cops tours of the Prospect.1 biennial, during which they wore cop uniforms and gave guided tours of the P.1 sights in a vintage police cruiser, Matt Vis and Tony Campbell have returned to what, for them, passes for normal: spelunking the meaning of life, and death, with a variety of visual aids. Specifically, their mixed media works allude to art history and pop culture and various combinations thereof.
Here their large, elaborately staged photographs of themselves as MARAT and OPHELIA in extremis take cues from masterworks by David and Millais respectively, but things get trickier when they portray marble busts of Caesar and Caligula, Roman emperors who died violent deaths. These are weird, in part because they blink. Look closely, and the images are actually endless loop videos on LCD monitors where they appear almost, but not totally, motionless. Their MOTEL SUITE is like a series of movie stills in which not much is happening, just two guys in a motel doing stuff like eating potato chips, brushing their teeth and cleaning their guns. Like mercenaries at rest, they appear to be getting ready for a hit, but we don't know who or why, reflecting the ambiguous anonymity of so much modern violence--yet it is that precisely that ambiguity that gives this otherwise deadpan series its intrigue. In the back gallery, Drew Gilmore's stark, black-on-black silkscreen portraits of jazz greats who died tragic deaths sets a somber tone, providing an eloquently elegiac counterpoint to the rest of this generally quirky and thought provoking expo.
~D. Eric Bookhardt
STILL LIFE AND TRAGIC ENDINGS: New Work by Generic Art Solutions, Drew Gilmore and Natalie Nichols
Through July 4
Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 975-1557;