Jeriah Hildwine: Living Dead Girls
Linda Warren Projects is proud to announce the opening of two first time solo exhibitions at the gallery – multidisciplinary artist Tom Torluemke's "Ring Around the Rosie", in Gallery Y and O, and the representational, realist, figurer painter Jeriah Hildwine's "Living Dead Girls" in Gallery X. In these wildly fantastical shows, both artists push the boundaries of their imaginations, mediums, and skills, to a dizzying breadth and depth. Ascribing their influences to both the personal and cultural, they flirt with a gamut of emotions and ideas and employ fully intended mechanisms to engage the viewer in an extraordinarily powerful visual experience. Full of shock and awe, humor and folly, passion and violence, sex, love, beauty, ugliness, hope and despair - their underlying stories, whether based in reality or merely in fantasy, expound on universals that relate to us all.
In "Living Dead Girls," a title shared with a Rob Zombie song and a San Francisco-based Zombie burlesque troupe, Jeriah Hildwine presents a body of work, created over the period of 5 years, that emanates from a slew of pop cultural influences generally rooted in the macabre. Figures are cribbed from sources ranging from Hildwine's friends to the zombie-themed adult film Porn of the Dead, from Beetlejuice to Norman Rockwell. So many artists struggle to answer the question, "What is this painting about?" For the works in this series, the answer is refreshingly simple: "Goth girls fighting zombies."
In his book The Philosophy of Horror, author Noel Carroll postulated that the proliferation of horror films from the 1960s to the present are a response to the series of disillusionments that have shaken American society since the middle of the 20th Century. The "recurrent psychic demoralization of the fictional victims left dumbfounded by horrific monsters" functioned as an analogue for "the sense of paralysis, engendered not only by massive historical shocks, but by an unrelenting inability to come to terms practically with situations, which persistently seem inconceivable and unbelievable."
Hildwine's work is directly influenced by the imagery not only of horror films, but also fantasy films, role-playing and video games, graphic novels and RPG players' handbooks, especially of the late 80's to mid 90's. His paintings embody the masculine, the fantastic, and the horrific as they appear not only in the cliché of Hollywood, but also in the fathoms of classic storytelling. Drawing on the type of popular culture sources with which he grew up, he turns the preoccupations of male adolescence into absurdist dark comedy. Conflating the imagery of popular illustration with scenes from horror cinema and an idealized reimagining of teenage subculture yields a virile, violent, erotic wonderland populated with sexy, aggressive women and supernatural monsters.
Several of the most recent pieces in "Living Dead Girls" extend the verisimilitude of realistic painting into three dimensions, featuring elements of assemblage. Like the so-bad-its-good special effects of a low-budget horror film, these elements disgust and amuse even as they violate the viewer's suspension of disbelief. Rubber Halloween prostheses, rabbit fur, bats, clumps of real and synthetic human hair and brass cartridge casings acknowledge the artifice of painting even as they draw the viewer into the world of the picture. Like the girl with the three boobs from Total Recall, even though we know that third boob is papier-mâché, it's still pretty hot.
Jeriah Hildwine received his MFA in 2007 from the Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and his BA in 2002 from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. He lives and works in Chicago, along with his wife, Stephanie Burke, and their ball python snake.