Sunday, May 22, 2011

Goldfinch, Lindsley and Shaw at Du Mois

Our Lady of Temptation by Jessica Goldfinch

When Samuel Johnson said "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel," he wasn't rebuking actual  patriots, just opportunists hiding behind the flag. Symbols and icons have always been, well, iconic, and Jesse Shaw takes them on in linoleum block prints such as his WAR ON TERROR, left, a kind of ballistic-expressionist freak show with masked jihadists, Abu Ghraib inmates, Osama bin Laden and oil barrels orbiting around a Cheneyesque figure clutching a gas nozzle like a weapon. In less skillful hands this could seem sophomoric, but Shaw has a keen killer instinct and wields a sharp linoleum knife as we see in his AMERICAN RELIGION depiction of apocalyptic conditions as televangelist types in suits spew filth from every orifice, while AMERICAN SPORT (detail below) is a kind of bestiary where race horses and fighting cocks compete for attention with female body builders striking poses in baroque graphical grottoes festooned with performance enhancing pills, syringes and extruded clitoro-penile filigree as superheroic boxers beat each other to a pulp and race cars blast off into oblivion. In this show, Shaw skewers everything from consumerism and the military to sports and funeral parlors in densely patterned prints so acerbic they make George Grosz look like a piker. (Click images to expand.)

American Sport (detail) by Jesse Shaw

Jessica Goldfinch tweaks iconic figures by emphasizing their human aspect in a series of small paintings and Shrinky-Dink icons that imbue mythic symbols with human frailties.  So OUR LADY OF TEMPTATION features a Madonna with a fiery Sacred Heart that is actually an apple with an unusually anatomical core, top, but her ALLEGORY EMPTIED Shrinky Dink icon, left, is mythic with a twist as a blindfolded classical female water bearer with a serpentine abdominal scar empties her amphora into the void. SACRED HEART OF THE SELF CONTAINED looks almost normal until you see the little serpents writhing  amid an anatomical tangle of blood vessels. Others update baroque and classical imagery with tattoos or cutaway anatomical views in an investigation of the archetypes that we ordinarily take for granted--at least until Goldfinch recasts them in a new light.  All this is complemented by J. David Lindsley's sculptures such as RESTRAINT, below, in which a couple of  life size cast glass arms wrapped in barbed wire effectively evoke the passionate, if not always coherent, protests gripping the world today. What all three artists convey is a sense that symbols not only matter but should be subjected to a healthy dose of  skepticism lest the demagogues among us subvert them to their own dubious agendas. ~Bookhardt

SOME RESTRICTIONS MAY APPLY: Work by Jessica Goldfinch, J. David Lindsley and Jesse Shaw, Through June 5, Du Mois Gallery, 4921 Freret St., 818-6032