Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's Raining Horses

by Robert Boyd

One of the most surprising and most powerful shows that opened this week was by Larassa Kabel at Peel Gallery. Peel has been showing some interesting work by artists who have had some success in New York or L.A. or some other "serious" art town (see this, for example). But as far as I can tell, Larassa Kabel has never had a solo show outside of Iowa! So Peel is to be commended for finding this artist and taking a chance on her.

Of course, it helps that her work is so striking. One thing you just don't see very often are life-size drawings of horses.

Larassa Kabel, Any Minute Now, Bay, colored pencil on paper, 2011. (Photo by Robert Boyd.)

I usually try not to have people in my photos of art, but here it's useful. They give you an idea of the huge scale of these pieces (96" square). The images are majestic and terrifying. I immediately thought of those old western movies where megalomaniac directors would stampede horses off cliffs--all for the visual drama of it.

Larassa Kabel, Any Minute Now, The Black, colored pencil on paper, 2011. (Photo by Robert Boyd.)

At first looking at these, I assumed they were some large-scale print from a much smaller drawing. The surface was so perfect. These drawings reward close examination. But once you get very close, you can see the subtle evidence of a human hand. Although these drawings are extremely precise, there is something very liberating for an artist to be able to draw on this scale. But freedom can be terrifying too. The terrifying feeling of falling can be associated with the terrifying feeling of filling 96 square inches with a perfect drawing. I guess I'm saying that maybe these falling horses say something about Kabel as an artist.

Larassa Kabel, Any Minute Now, The Black, colored pencil on paper, 2011. (Photo by Robert Boyd.)

But maybe they were chosen for their drama and for the challenge of drawing them. In any case, her large horse drawings are very different from her smaller pieces in the show.

Larassa Kabel, Lay Z Boy, colored pencil on paper, 2011. (Photo by Robert Boyd.)

This drawing is 5.25" by 5". Her small drawings seem more obviously photo-derived than the big horse drawings. They are often erotic, and if not erotic, at least somewhat sexually charged. The drawing technique is identical to the large horse drawings, but the small size makes them seem "fuzzier", more soft-focus, which in turn reinforces the eroticism.

See this show--it's worth the experience to see these enormous, powerful drawings in the flesh.

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1 comment:

  1. i'd like to see a whole room of those horse paintings. they are magnificent.