The Frist Center's chief curator Mark Scala likes monsters. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Scala has a proclivity toward art that investigates the way the familiar can rapidly morph into the horrific (i.e. monsters), and how art can be a psychic tool offering a glimpse into dystopian (i.e., monstrous) landscapes. When the beastly works from the Scala-curated Fairytales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination left the exhibition space — returning to their hiding spots under beds, no doubt — they left behind a thematic thread that as Scala puts it, "conveys the dissolution of a coherent understanding of the world."
Featuring Middle Tennessee-based artists Erin Anfinson, Kristi Hargrove, Mark Hosford and Chris Scarborough, Metamorphoses is currently on display in the Frist's Conte Community Arts Gallery along its entrance hallway. It ardently salutes Ovid's ancient epic poem, as the title implies, but it also attempts to resuscitate the spirit of André Breton-era surrealism through a selection of two-dimensional works generated by 21st century Tennesseans.
According to Scala, we are in a time of transition that isn't dissimilar to the one the surrealists encountered in the aftermath of World War I, and this exhibit highlights local art that responds to the current climate of severe instability. Although I am not entirely in agreement with his stance — I think the surrealists dealt with far more drama (the Industrial Revolution, being book-ended by two world wars, fleeing Europe, etc.) — we are certainly grappling with a frustrating number of "unknowns." This is the core of Erin Anfinson's art, which, compared to the other artists' work, is quite restrained. As a new mother, her imagination is tortured (and by the same token, inspired) by the threatening substances that can be found in innocuous-seeming materials, such as toys. Her waxy hives morph into lime-colored larvae, putting into visual terms what new-mother distrust feels like. Imagine if Maurice Sendak had abandoned narrative and figurative forms to investigate the structural integrity of hornet nests and beehives.
With his Rorschach Series, Mark Hosford presents pieces that seem to have adopted the most surreal approach of all — automatic drawing. By using ink-jet scanned Rorschach inkblots as his foundation, Hosford transforms these "representations of psychological truths" into playfully sinister amalgamations, such as "Bunny King" and "Candyman." From afar, the drawings look like they could be William Morris wallpaper blueprints. But up close it's possible to see the way he applied his pencil to create wildly illustrative barnacles that cling to the blots. I would like to believe that his drawings of demonic faces morphing out of succulent forest appendages are the products of unconscious drawing. Is Hosford the kind of man who stays up late watching zombie films and then sits in his studio, coffee in one hand, pencil in the other, with no clue that he's about to make breasts look like sap dripping off branches and feeding incubus toddlers?
Kristi Hargrove's textural drawings, which face Hosford's from across the hall, offer a respite from his dizzying detail. Her work relishes in negative space and suggestive orifices. If there weren't a bit of Plexiglas covering "Peep Hole," all sorts of sneaky pupils and fingers would be searching for something beyond the layer of paper. Hargrove's art is very much about the paper being a sort of skin, something that exists to be touched. In certain pieces, the paper looks like it's been subjected to vigorous rubbing, calculated scraping or both. Her emphasis on the tactile aspect of art transcends her treatment of the material. It also applies to the subject matter: human skin, the delicacy of moth wings, her dog. Her dog — at least, I think it's her dog — is a recurring feature in her work. She seems to be the most sculptural of the artists presented in the exhibition, and it makes sense that she would include the subjects she touches the most in her work.
Chris Scarborough, whose piece "The Modernist" depicts a deer as a mass of geometric parts with only its head and legs intact, is the most accessible artist of the lot. His motives, influences and conclusions are all very clear. Yes, the fractured deer is "The Modernist" because her fragmented, chaotic shell of a body represents the way cubism pioneered the simultaneity of perspective through painting. And "The Economist" presents a cloud of explosion with shards flying about — a reflection of recent financial crises. I believe the selections of his work would've been stronger if "The Housewife" and "The Huntsman" had been excluded. They are much more direct caricatures of everyday beings, while his other characters allow viewers to put his fragmented puzzles together on various levels. Then again, Scarborough is a Southern artist, and he's undoubtedly used to being surrounded by huntsmen and housewives. They need a place in his anthropomorphized universe, too.
It hardly seems news that the classic White Christmas is a corny show with contrivances,…
The shooting location for hard bodies gym was formerly the Paramus, NJ location of Tower…
This is like a flashback to the '80s, when Ted Turner was colorizing CASABLANCA and…
That clip is horrifying. It looks like postmortem makeup. Very uncanny valley.
AGGGHHHH that last picture!