Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bascle, Hornback and Lief at Taylor-Bercier

 

Once upon a time, in the late 1980s, there arose an art movement called the Visionary Imagists. Spawned in a Marigny gallery operated by a charismatic and controversial Ecuadorian expatriate named George Febres, the Visionary Imagists melded American imagism with the Magic Realist tradition of Latin America, reflecting an undercurrent that had actually been just below the surface of local art making for ages. When Febres died in 1996, the artists went their separate ways, and while some moved on to high profile galleries, others like Dona Lief, Ann Hornback and Andrew Bascle remained slightly below the radar. Lief has long been intrigued by the parallels she sees between consumer culture icons and cold blooded creatures like spiders and crabs, and her most recent works seen here continue in this devolutionary vein, with an emphasis on social and environmental issues. Her strongest painting in this show, CRY BABY CRY, top, depicts a bawling infant with a flaming aura topped by a hermit crab like a cap. Hermit crabs were among the species most decimated by the BP oil rig flameout, and here the volatile chemistry of anger and lost innocence is palpable. Similar sentiments appear in Andrew Bascle's found object sculpture WORLD BANK, above left, a spider-like concoction cobbled from a toy hand gun, a miniature globe and false teeth affixed to a wire armature supported by legs made of steak knives--and once again the connection between insects and institutions is emphasized in works that appear predatory yet humorous, robotic yet whimsical. Ann Hornback's no less surreal if a tad more nuanced paintings take us to a realm of nature spirits where a vaguely vampy siren in an alligator mask and evening attire evokes mythic figures like Hecate, the Greco- Roman demoness of the underworld. But this is Louisiana, where boundaries between nature and culture, land and water, dream and reality are even less defined, making Hornback's alligator women evocative spirit guides to an amphibious realm where imagination and the wild world are forever intertwined. ~Bookhardt  
NEW WORK by Dona Lief, Ann Hornback and Andrew Bascle, Through March, Taylor Bercier Gallery, 233 Chartres St., 527-0072; www.taylorbercier.com