Michael Williams: Paintings
The CANADA Gallery, NYC
Through December 8, 2013
INT. BELLYLAFFS COMEDY CLUB - EVENING
HOUSE BAND [Jay-Z/Kanye West]: I ball so hard muthafuckas wanna find me, first niggas gotta find me / Tha shit cray / Tha shit cray / Tha shit cray / Ain’t it, Jay?
SIDEKICK [Tracy Morgan]: Give it up for Jay-Z and Kanye West, Ladies and Gentlemen… and now, you have probably seen his recent special It Ain't Gonna Suck Itself [Applause]…Bellylaffs is pleased to present one white boy who really does ball hard…
HOST [James Franco] - enters stage right]: Thank you Tracy! Thank you! [Applause] Thank you! It’s true, I really do ball hard. Very hard. Mostly by myself… [Laughter/Applause]… Thank you…
HOST: So this guy, who has never been sick a day in his life, calls his boss. He says, "I can’t come in today, I’m sick." The boss says, "No problem, take the day off. I’m just curious, though, how sick are you?" The guy says, "I just fucked my sister!"
Like sugar-induced hyperactive children, David and I went to the only place where grownups ring doorbells to see art: The Upper East Side. Were we tricked? Yes. Were we treated? Yeah, that too.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1970, Larry Krone was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and now lives and works in New York City's East Village. He has been exhibiting his drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos since the early 1990s. Some of the museums he has exhibited at include the Whitney Museum of American Art Philip Morris Branch and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which in 2006 presented Larry Krone: Artist/Entertainer, a ten-year retrospective of Larry Krone's visual and performance work.
Children are innocent, we are told, existing in a state of unperturbed self-sufficiency and looking at the outside world with unlimited trust. They share this ideal condition with the objects of their affection, such as cats, dogs, or other pets. When disaster strikes and this peaceful existence is disturbed, some natural law seems to have been violated. As in much of contemporary horror, the shock effect of evil deeds and ghastly events is greatly enhanced if unleashed on the pure and simple in spirit or invading a seemingly picturesque locale and cheerful ordered communal life. The supposedly asexual and immaculate bodies of pre-pubescent children are the primary site of artist Bradley Rubenstein's investigations into the changing conceptions of identity and the state of ethical, social, and sexual attitudes today.
In his drawings and paintings these icons of innocence seem to have been subjected to experiments worthy of Dr. Moreau: a child with a clenched fist as head; amalgamations of two torsos and several exaggerated limbs or with cephalopod tentacles; and, again and again, adolescents engaging in strange unions with giant adult hands. The faceless configurations of human and animal forms are like defenseless victims, threatened by the grasp of the adult world and in constant danger of forever losing their blissful ignorance.
Rubenstein's human and animal composites are strangely lifeless, frozen in time like ancient monuments. Placed into melancholic isolation they have quietly resigned themselves to their fate, arrested in movement and lost in insurmountable loneliness. Either painted with dense layers of carbon, or carefully rendered in graphite and in black or sepia ink, the drawings approach the cold and distant observation of scientific illustrations, faithfully documenting rare anatomical specimens of deviations in nature. The artist deliberately distances himself from the explicit and loaded sexuality of the adult and, in particular, the violated female body, suppressing the projection of voyeuristic desire which, nevertheless is subliminally and disconcertingly manifest.
One of the reasons that I returned to the East Village so soon was that my previous August art stomp with David Carbone ran longer than expected and we did not get to visit The Sweet Life, a local candy store on Hester Street. So before David and I headed off to see what the art world had to offer, my sweet tooth had to be placated with chocolate cherries and licorice Scotty dogs. What we found after David slapped me out of my diabetic coma was much like the selection at The Sweet Life, extremely surprising and varied.
This summer, for lack of a better description, has been unusual in that it has been busy for the art world. For those of you who don’t know me in the writing forum: in my other life I own an art shipping company, and we have been busy! As have many of my competitors! Good for everybody.
Bradley Rubenstein: Let's get the background stuff out of the way -- the rest will be more interesting. You are from Ohio. Was starting out there influential in any way other than making you want to leave?
Sean O'Connor: I started out experimenting in my hometown just out of high school and was heavily influenced by the music scene at the time. There was a little art scene booming in Cleveland at the time, and there still is, but I was really into artists like Derek Hess and other illustrators like that.