THE OBSESSIVE UNKNOWN ORIGIN OF GROTESQUE IRREGULARITY \ GROUP SHOW
KEN WEAVER, NANCY BAKER, KATY STONE, IZZIE KLINGELS, BETTE BURGOYNE, TONY SONNENBERG, CASEY CURRAN, MANDY GREER, & TYNA ONTKO
Katy Stone, Izzie Klingels, Bette Burgoyne, Tony Sonnenberg, Casey Curran, Mandy Greer, Tyna Ontko, Nancy Baker, Ken Weaver
The Obsessive Unknown Origin of Grotesque Irregularity is inspired by the aesthetics of Rococo, Surrealism, and the Baroque. Each of the presenting artists in have roots in obsessive processes,storytelling, and adornment. The presentation of these works together creates an environment that is not only immediately magical, but which also carries an undercurrent of fascinating narrative in obsession, dreams, the subconscious, folklore and literature. Lush and abundant, their work pushes the boundaries of clutter, beauty, and complicated aesthetics in contemporary work.
I was very excited to welcome two New York artists, Ken Weaver (courtesy of Schroeder Romero & Shredder) and Nancy Baker, to show in this exhibition. I wanted to draw a thread of continuity between the work in Seattle to the work in other cities, demonstrating that we aren't so far removed from trends and movements in the art world at large. Nancy Baker’s tediously accumulated layers create a kaleidoscope of imagery, piling up to the point of overwhelming us entirely. Ken Weaver’s characters are in the midst of some intricate Gothic drama, its mysterious story unfolding in the deepest part of our imagination.
Etymology of the word "baroque" comes from the French word used to describe a style of architecture, and to refer to something irregular and grotesque; as from Middle French in reference to the surface of a pearl; from the Portuguese "barroco" - a pearl of irregular shape, of unknown origin. These descriptive terms remind me of Marilyn Minter, the epitome of contemporary Baroque and Rococo - her works are erotic, frightening, sometimes crusted in filth, sexual in their hyperreality of sweat, saliva, and body parts. They defile the sacredness of beauty even as it is being elevated. Imagery of decay, the body, escapism, and Gothic hyperfantasy prevail.
This hyperfantasy offers us a great privilege: to see what lies in front of our tired vision with refreshed sight. It is a luxury we are rarely afforded, caught in the mundanity of our lives. Hyperfantasy creates a contemporary mythology and pantheon of characters in which we may view our ourselves more closely. In Minter’s case, lips, feet, mud, and jewels all take on an otherworldly cast. We imagine what those things must feel like, what the grit from the mud or the caviar does to our senses. It’s ordinary drudgery, but in fantasy it becomes the most spectacular event.
And each of these artists in has created a spectacular event. Whether it is Casey Curran’s clutching, grasping hand amidst sharp gilded leaves and soft feathers; Mandy Greer’s dazzling patterned display across the entire wall, or Katy Stone’s magical realist weeping cherry tree; these works are environmental. They speak to a place and time that isn’t now or here, telling stories that reflect our lives but imagine those lives in magnificent ways.