We Build the World Inside Our Heads
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog staffer Julia Butareva reviews the Freight and Volume Gallery’s exhibit featuring works by Alexia Stamatiou, Elizabeth Huey, Todd Herbert, Daniel Rich, and Scott Anderson.
Elizabeth Huey’s painting “The Inquisition” easily dominates the small space that is the Freight and Volume Gallery. The gallery really is tiny and makeshift: two employees sit at their computers in a darkened nook about the size of a bathroom, and carelessly stored artwork spills out into the exhibition space.
Among the glossy, simplified suburb-scapes, Huey’s imposing collage can’t help but stand out. It’s a landscape with a Gothic mansion atop a mountain. A town full of rustic houses can be seen in the distance. The sky is gray.
In accord with the exhibition’s title, “We Build the Worlds Inside Our Heads,” Huey’s giant collage is a bizarre amalgam of people, places, and things, with no obvious unifying principle – rather like the exhibition itself. The sky has squares of varying shades of blue on it, as if it is remembering all the other colors that skies have been. Some of the houses look like they belong in fairy tales, others in conservative suburbs. The Gothic mansion is dilapidated and spooky at the top, but at the bottom it bears a closer resemblance to a marble castle. An angel in a corner looks as if stepped out of some expulsion-from-Eden scene—it brandishes a sword and its mouth is open in an angry cry. But its sword is some sort of ninja weapon and it wears a distinctly science-fiction costume. It also happens to be attacking a fox…which is standing upright. Up the hill from this duo, a magician conjures a desktop computer. It’s a game in free-association, and all the players are familiar, but the very familiarity of the references is nauseating. It’s gimmicky, irredeemable kitsch.
The same can be said for Alexia Stamatiou’s cloying drawings of jungle creatures. They are cute humanoid things with cartoon penises, small crosses on their throats, and brightly colored patches of hair on their chests and armpits. They inhabit a jungle of multicolored leaves that seem to float in the air independently of one another and of the trees. The gouache paintings have quasi-religious connotations: one is called “Palm Sunday” and another, “They Had Found It,” shows the creatures gathered around a blue cross on the jungle floor. The undulating shapes of the flat trees and the utter lack of illusionary space evoke Matisse, but they also bring to mind Rousseau’s naiveté and Gauguin’s trick of transposing religious allegory in exotic locations. And it is a trick. These drawings are cloying, small, neat, and banal. If you’re were in the mood for innocently empty charm, you might like them. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.
Huey’s painting dominates this disconnected show by virtue of its sheer size. There’s no discernible organizing principle. Try another show, one that doesn’t require such a trek through the cold.
“We Build the Worlds Inside Our Heads”: works by Alexia Stamatiou, Elizabeth Huey, Todd Herbert, Daniel Rich, and Scott Anderson.
On view until March 4, 2006
Freight and Volume Gallery
542 West 24th Street
To Get There: Take the 1 to 23rd Street, then walk a block north and about three blocks west.