Sunday, June 25, 2017

Kaori Maeyama at Staple Goods Gallery; Leslie Friedman at Good Children Gallery



Driving down desolate city streets on a dark, overcast night can be a dreary experience. But there are also times, on misty, rain cooled evenings, when the reflections of random city lights dancing off the walls of shadowy buildings can make those same sights seem oddly alive. Then the rhythmic flow of  glistening city streets seen from a moving car can slip almost hypnotically into a realm reminiscent of dreamy ambient music or lyrical modern jazz riffs. Kaori Maeyama's nocturnal cityscape paintings look starkly abstract at first, but in works like Through a Glass Darkly (pictured), dusky forms and luminous highlights soon suggest office towers, overpasses and traffic rendered with a cinematic sense of motion. In some, the steel trusses of the Huey P. Long bridge are conveyed by luminous slashes in inky patinas that evoke the dense mists over the river. Chocolate City pulsates with the gritty incandescence of a city alive with random mirth, pathos and chaos fused into a single, sprawling organism with a collective life of its own. Inspired by photos taken through car windows, Maeyama's nocturnal cityscapes explore how external perceptions and our inner lives influence each other, in this latest leg of a personal journey that began when she arrived here from Fukuoka, Japan, in 1994. 


The Passenger: Urban Landscapes by Kaori Maeyama, Through July 2, Staple Goods, 1340 St. Roch Ave., 908-7331.

There are few shadows and fewer details left to the imagination in Leslie Friedman's colorfully overt graphics. Sometimes described as “purposely crass and annoying,” her silkscreened nudes emerging from piles of diet soda cans and packets of Splenda, and related works like Tasty, below, are accompanied by a video loop of a masturbating woman in works that capture the nihilism of an age where addictive digital devices propagate titillation and rage even as actual physical addictions like opioids overwhelm an increasingly confounded public forced to live in a world that makes even less sense now than it did in the relatively recent past.


Tastier: Mixed-Media Installation about Western Culture by Leslie Friedman, Through June 25, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427.