Sunday, January 27, 2019

NO/JXN: Group Expo of Jackson MS Artists

When and where is randomness not really random? One answer might be modern Jackson, Mississippi. This quirky expo suggests that times have changed in a place once associated with fading Southern belles and aging politicians spouting platitudes steeped in molasses and cigar smoke. Those days are long gone – Jackson's current mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, won by a landslide in 2017 on a platform of making Jackson “the most radical city on the planet.” Today, Jackson's new homegrown radical chic amounts to a kind of cultural grab bag of most anything that ain't mint juleps or whistlin' Dixie, as we see in this NO/JXN exhibition curated by Doyle Gertjejensen.

At first, all that these works have in common is that they all have nothing in common, but look again and a distinctly Jacksonian sensibility emerges -- a stream of consciousness visual sensibility articulated into international, or maybe intergalactic, riffs of aesthetic nihilism, a tendency epitomized in Allan Inman's paintings. “Hell Hounds,” top, is emblematic. A series of glossy jade green Asian hell realm figures set against infernal waves of fire and elongated red tubes of something like confectionery dragon's blood, “Hell Hounds” suggests an Asian pop vision of fire and brimstone catering to a doomsday cult of severely depressed Japanese art collectors. Its overall oddness is perfectly complemented by a series of Ellen Rogers's photos of science fiction and porn-inflected figure studies (eg. "Friendly Invader," right) paired with suggestive rock formations.

The king of randomness here is probably Ke Francis whose sculptural assemblages look like something an ironic gust of wind blew in, but whose etchings and woodcut prints display a manic precision that radiates a distinctly unhinged charisma. Compared to these artists, Doyle Gertjejensen, in paintings that evoke the parallels between brush strokes and tornadoes, comes across like the straight man in an old Monty Python movie while Charles Carraway's minimal views of blank walls punctuated by windows flooded by the luminosity of mystically bland landscapes, for instance, "Indented Wall," above, suggests something a painterly Brian Eno might have done: “Music for Airports” transformed into visual fragments of sublime ordinariness.  ~Bookhardt / NO/JXN: Group Exhibition of Jackson Mississippi Artists, Through Feb. 2, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506.