Sunday, December 31, 2017

Paul Deo and Phoebe Nesgos at Barristers

Paul Deo appears and disappears. He has done that for years, alternating between his native New York and extended New Orleans connections. Long intrigued by pop and mysticism, he intermingles his flair for murals and comic book illustration with artificial intelligence, mythology and black history. This aptly titled Voodeo show reflects all of the above in works that suggest what William Blake might have painted had he been a Spanish Harlem graffiti artist. His  Algorithms of Ali painting is a large phantasmagoria of serpentine gold and crimson swirls interwoven with weird biological forms spiraling into a kind of saintly aurora borealis emanating from a cameo of Muhammad Ali. This really should be an indigestible case of overkill yet it somehow works with an uncanny inner logic of its own. The smaller paintings mostly suggest an expressionist plutonic underworld of lost saints amid mask-like faces recalling Hell's Kitchen in the old days, or lower Decatur St. before gentrification. In his large painted fabric collages like Myndteam Angelita, top, visionary gestural flourishes reflect the schematics of his “Myndteam” artificial intelligence project to enable ordinary folks to utilize “all the global data in existence” via user-friendly algorithms... If his algorithms take people to the place occupied by Angelita in the painting, users might want to think twice before logging on, but kudos to Deo for going there and bringing us such inexplicably intriguing images.

More plutonic mysteries appear in Phoebe Nesgos' series of paintings inspired by the art of ancient Pompei, where the exotic lifestyles of the ancient Romans were preserved under volcanic ash. In these works their decadent antics continue on in a kind of posthumous Satyricon where lust knows no mortal bounds, as the forces of life and death party hearty in carnivalesque Dionysian fashion, a gesture sure to be well received by the Olympian deities – and at least some of our local Mardi Gras krewes who still celebrate them. ~Bookhardt / Voodeo: New works by Paul Deo; After the Tomb of the Diver: New Works by Phoebe Nesgos, Through Jan. 6, 2018, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506.