DBerman was one of the first galleries I discovered in Austin. Like Lora Reynolds, I felt a slight discomfort upon entering. Something about knowing that the gallerist is actually trying to make a sale that puts me on edge. That was years ago, nowadays I walk in with a shudder then politely return a greeting and continue on to the art.
Having seen promo images on Glasstire and Dberman’s site, I was aware of the animal heads on portraits. When I walk in the gallery, that is all I see. There were portrait paintings with animal heads on the wall. Suspiciously one of them was a portrait of a girl with a sinister grin and a small rainbow near her folded hands. On the opposite walls there were ink drawings of similar imagery. Figures of all sorts existed with a variety of animal heads. So I conclude that animal heads on human figures is this guys’ schtick.
First off, I read something about there being some dry British humor involved in this body of work. I can’t say I am familiar with anything British, but I’m all for the dry. Besides the occasional cute animal face, I found nothing to laugh at. They were absurd, but the combination of animal head and human figure was neither creative nor poignant. I may be forgetting some art history that the portraiture is referencing, but as it was exhibited with works pulling from other sources I saw no potency to its imagery.
Secondly, the draftsmanship was a little shaky around the edges and all the work seemed to have been sourced from previous publications. The drawings especially looked like they were copied from old magazines. Most of the drawings appeared to have an advertising look to them. They came off as vaguely familiar. Either I had seen the source imagery, or this style has been pervasive in print media. My theory that these drawings were copied, stems from the finished style that each drawing exemplified.
Upon close inspection, I could see that the head and figure were collaged before being committed onto paper. The light sources and the drawing style were markedly different in the two parts. It would seem to me that presenting the actual collages would have been easier and thus, more prolific. The artist could have even used inkjet prints of Photoshopped collages. Of course, with the world becoming more digital and immaterial, the handiwork of a traditionally cut and glued collage would have provided some sort of cultural critique.
This show did nothing to excite me and I found little to praise. Unfortunately this show is BAD. Just because they say its art, doesn’t mean you have to like it.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.