Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Loop's Summer Correspondent Sarah Letovsky visits Cooper Cole

Body builder (Vintage photo) (2013), Gina Beavers

Gina Beavers & Devin Troy Strother

Sarah Letovsky

Cooper Cole Gallery isn’t known for playing it safe, and their latest exhibition of work by Brooklyn based Gina Beavers & LA based Devon Troy Strother is definitely outside the box -  both metaphorically, and literally.

Gina Beaver’s half of the show is a series of cropped, monochrome, three-dimensional male abs. Beavers builds up layers of acrylic paint to give her pieces a structural element, placing the work somewhere in between painting and sculpture. Beavers, whose previous show “Palate” (2012) was based on Instagram photos of food, clearly thrives on playful, tongue-in-cheek comments on cultural cliches and topical references. This new work is definitely in the same realm, with a mix of sarcasm, immediacy, and fetishization.


Similarly, Devin Troy Strother has created a body of three dimensional, playful pieces. Strother has gained recognition for his strikingly unconventional mode of work, which combines paint, crayon, marker, glitter, and construction paper in a colourful depiction of little figures and scenes, often popping out of the frame. Because of his artistic decisions, these have a naive, amateur quality (he usually signs them in the bottom-right corner in the manner of 12-year-old art projects), but are matured by their strong composition, intentionality, and often sexual subject matter. We’re clearly having an adult conversation with Strothers. His work is a kind of new Fauvism; mocking and reinventing old modes of art and re-appropriating them in new ways. The titles of the pieces are, to my mind, just as important as the work itself, and reveal a more layered conversation on race, art history, pop culture stereotypes, and Ebonics. One piece, a clear rendition of a Matisse, is discovered later to be called THAT MATISSE SHIT, STILL LIFE INTERIOR WITH MASHANDA, "GUUUUUUURL I'M SO SLEEPY THO" (2013). For art buyers, it definitely rolls off the tongue.

This exhibition is on until June 29th, so check it out before it closes at 1161 Dundas Street West, just down the street from Loop!

(Images courtesy of Cooper Cole)