Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hiding Out with Skeez187 and TKNY

Robert Boyd

If you went to Uriel Landeros's dreadful exhibit Friday night, you at least had the opportunity to look in on Escondido, an exhibit by Skeez187 (aka Skeezer Stinkfist) and TKNY at Chuntaro Jones Studio. Their work was a pleasant contrast. Skeez187 was displaying a group of masks made of Sculpey. The masks were in identical black display boxes, arranged in a line across the back wall of the studio.

installation view

The Sculpey allowed Skeez187 to play with very modern artificially bright colors while recalling Meso-American sources.

 Skeez187, Amor/Love, Sculpey

Skeez187, Flores/Flowers, Sculpey

 Skeez187, Selva/Jungle, Sculpey

The color is only part of the appeal (some of the masks are shades of grey or all black, and they're excellent, too). The way he incorporates Halloween mask teeth in each mask is unnerving--they look somewhat real, which makes the masks seem more like faces. (And this makes me think of Eduardo Galeano's Faces & Masks, a collage retelling of the history of Latin America from 1700 to 1900. As Galeano portrays it, this is a period where Latin America puts on a European mask. It is the middle volume of his Memories of Fire trilogy.) And the curling arabesque sculptural shapes with which Skeez187 constructs the form of the mask are an important and beautiful element of the whole.

TKNY's work betrays perhaps a little too much influence of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. But as long as you willing to live with its similarities to those street-art influenced 80s art stars, it's nice to look at.

TKNY, The Carnival of Power

But TKNY's room-sized installation, despite its obvious debt to Keith Haring, was the star of the show. The bold white against black linework covering every inch of the two walls helped make this a powerful visual experience.

TKNY room installation

This is doodle art writ large. But TKNY has such a mastery of his materials within his deliberately limited means of expression (uniform white lines on a black wall) that I felt quite energized being in its presence. Sure, it shows a lot of Keith Haring, but it ends up coming across as a highly personal and quite powerful piece of art.


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