Twiggy's complacent doe-eyed stare is an obvious subject for a pop-art themed show. The iconic aloofness of the model set against bold red and white geometric abstractions feels all too familiar. I've seen this. Like on a t-shirt somewhere. Or a purse in Chinatown. I feel had. The work, done by Jenny Wehrt, is pop-art verbatim, in color scheme, in spatial compression, in subject matter: iconic mod superstars from Britain. Brit-pop-art. With the exception of Winston Churchill throwing up the bird and Queen V with her nose in the air, the pop-art stereotypes Wehrt chooses is an act in itself banal. But ironically, it works. Pop-art originally confronted the banality of celebrity, of mass production. Wehrt confronts the banality of pop-art, whether intentionally or not, by producing mass-produced iconoclasm. And that actually makes for a provocative set of portraits, though the distinction between unique art and ubiquitous reproduction gets a bit blurry.
And ubiquitous reproduction is key to pop-art success. Testing the values in art, Katie Gray's bronzed rabbit feet and aluminum-varnished cassette tapes which are set on pedestals confront the pretensions of gallery culture in their appropriation. Using repetition in her choice of multiples (three rabbit feet, five tapes), Gray invokes a bit of Jasper Johns and his acknowledgment of devaluation of art by reproduction. By consumerism and consumption. Mass production of objects. These pieces represent a kitschy consumer taste for objects, though for Gray, they are manifestations of childhood memories.
Reproduction, however, must be differentiated from repurposing. In Audrey Welch's superhero set, she combines comics with printed papers, spraypaint, stencils, and resin to create a new platform for the vintage images. Much like Roy Lichtenstein, she is concerned with style despite the lowbrow source. She handles the bold graphics and colors of the comic strips with her own additions, manipulating the compositions with her own shapes, scales, colors and contours, making glossy pieces that go Whaam! Poww! And Ya-a-a-a!
(*Images, from top to bottom: Jenny Wehrt, Circle Twiggy, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30", courtesy of the artist. Jenny Wehrt, The Pleasure Machine, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36", courtesy of the artist. Katie Gray, Analogue, 2008, aluminum, 14 x 4 x 0.5", courtesy of the artist. Audrey Welch, The Ultra-Humanite, printed paper, spray-paint and resin on wood panel, 8.75 x 12", courtesy of the artist.