Sunday, September 25, 2011

Michele Basta at Coup d'Oeil



Michele Basta's hybrid creatures at Coup are fantastical by any measure. A mix of  hallucinatory surrealism and a side show take on mythology, her humanoid beasts are paradoxical in so many ways that it is almost as if their mannequin-like appendages and oddly mammalian features were  products of an alternate reality where bizarre incongruities are par for the course. How else to explain FROM WHAT I REMEMBER/ METAMORPHOSIS, right, a cat-headed female in a tattered hoop skirt and long black gloves. With her lynx-like head thrown back as she appears to exhale a huge plume of crimson paper flames, she dominates her corner of the gallery while posing no end of enigmatic possibilities for which there are no immediate answers. A related work, SPHINX, top, in a nearby alcove, inverts the equation with the body of a lioness and human upper torso topped with a demonic hybrid head. Instead of arms, she sprouts wings made up of hundreds of pages of poems in an extravagant new take on the term “literary lion” 


There are also some oddly expressive human heads that seem to sprout from Victorian-era spring mounted mechanisms of mysterious provenance. For dog lovers there is COMPANION, above, a hyena with conjoined human and canine heads. On the walls are some Victorian looking light boxes with glowing panels comprised of pressed flowers embedded in colored resin to yield a cathedral-like glow, but what gives Basta's beasts and light boxes their uncanny resonance is their sense of being artifacts from a parallel universe. Taking her cues from the esoteric inner symbolism of alchemical science, Basta externalizes the baser demons that roam the wild regions of the psyche in a process of transformation that puts their feral energy to use on behalf of a more holistic understanding of human potentiality, a quest that propelled both Carl Jung's psychology and no end of surrealist experimentation—parallel currents long known to Europeans, but only slowly coming to light on these shores. ~Bookhardt   


"AND THE EARTH BEGOT..." Mixed Media Sculpture by Michele Basta, Through Oct. 8, Coup d'Oeil Art Consortium, 2033 Magazine St., 722-0876; www.coupdoeilartconsortium.com