Bring Your Sick, Maimed, and Monstrous: The Work of Chris Mars

In his artist statement, Chris Mars rallies a battle cry: “There are the voiceless, who cannot speak for themselves. These are the easiest ones to shrink down. There are words for the non-conformers, simple words that can be quickly acknowledged by those that buy in. Crazy. Faggot. Gang. Rich. One is sinful, one is lazy, one is violent by nature and one is […]

Tim Noble and Sue Webster Give a Few Extra Turns of the Screw

When I was in Berlin last spring to give a presentation on the Chapman Brothers and Goya, it was my good fortune to be taken through one of the strangest, most disorienting exhibits created by artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster in collaboration with architect David Adjaye and staged by Blain|Southern. My group was led into a seemingly innocuous […]

Creeping Beauty: Shane LaVancher’s Evolutionary Creatures

Shane LaVancher’s “Creatures” invites us into a lab of hybrids – somewhere in between our technological future and our cave-dweller past. These bodies are beautiful and monstrous, thriving on the ethereal gothic: it is Gattaca meets Nosferatu. In the press release for the show, LaVancher reminds us that “visible changes in the human body are often preceded by unseen changes in the mind. As […]

Wonders and Blunders”: The Transgressive Fantastic in Mark Hosford’s Art

On his departmental homepage at Vanderbilt University, Mark Hosford, Associate Professor of Art, describes his work as using “narrative imagery to reveal societal wonders and blunders.” I’m not sure reveal is the right word to use, given how much transgressive laughter and horror fill Hosford’s strange dreamscapes. His work makes us see a world where Freddy Krueger from […]

The Uncanny Carnivals of Jonas Burgert

You haven’t really experienced the power of the contemporary surreal until you stand in front of a Jonas Burgert painting. The canvases are massive, sometimes spanning whole walls, depicting carnivalesque apocalyptic scenes of mass confusion and strange beauty. The bodies within these scenes are beyond human, something in between our most animalistic selves and the zombie creatures […]