Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kukuli Velarde @ Barry Friedman Ltd.

This Peruvian-born, Philly-based artist had a show a couple years back at Garth Clark that was featured in this blog. Here I had a chance to get a much more expanded idea of what she is about and to meet her and talk a little bit, which was terrific. The ceramic vessels from her series entitled "Plunder Me, Baby" look a bit larger than the ones I had seen before, and their biting wit is still very much in evidence. They are gorgeous, and so technically accomplished. They each feature glass eyes that meet your gaze, seem to follow you. Accompanying each piece is an index-card "label" such as would be seen in an ethnographic museum, circa 1970's, its faded-out typewritten description of the geographical source of the "find" followed by a ballpoint-pen "observation" on the character, nature, difficulty in handling, or warnings about what (bad) behavior the captive is likely to exhibit. The facial expressions range from sullen to defiant to startled to ingratiating to brazen to blase'. The overall effect is: watch out for these displaced firecrackers!

There are two other parts to this show; it almost has the feeling it could be a small museum exhibit. A large number of figure paintings in oil on aluminum panels from a series called "Cadavers" reference historical styles, gender roles, and personal history.

The third component of the show, "Apple of His Eye" combines a performance-piece, where the artist completes a wall drawing that frames the projection of a video in which her late father speaks about his hopes for his daughter.

The show continues to April 17th. I recommend it highly.

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