I Won't Grow Up's curatorial juxtaposition of older or dead, well-established artists, such as Louise Bourgeois and Andy Warhol, with the likes of a much younger generation (Ryan McGinley, Scott Reeder, etc.) makes this group show one that could easily have taken place inside a museum. But what's great about exhibits like this is that you can get much more up-close and personal with the work on display, without the defensive glare of museum guards or the droves of tourists getting in your way.
Inspired by a Louise Bourgeois quote regarding the similarities between children and artists, the work in I Won't Grow Up centers around themes of juvenescence and uses childhood objects / art-making techniques as a vehicle for expressing both the light and dark sides of life. George Stoll's artisanal kids Halloween costumes - one a skeleton, the other a clown - does just that in a simplistic manner. There's something eerie about an empty clown costume hanging on a wall, which becomes even more ghastly than the adjacent skeleton ghost.
For levity, there is a colossal rendition of Mr. Peanut, the Planters company mascot, destroying the Cincinnati Art Museum. Whether or not Mark Fox's Nutzilla video is good art is a different story, but it is highly entertaining nevertheless. The homespun paintings of Jon Pylypchuk, one of my personal favorites, fits right at home in this context as well. In his mixed media painting, Watch Your Face Fat Head, two forlorn figures comprised of felt and glue exist in an expressive otherworldly landscape that metaphorically represents inner emotion more so than outer environs. Polypchuk's Art Brut-esque compositions have a playful pathos that gets right to the heart of what it is like to be human in a topsy-turvy world, without resorting to outdated modes of visual representation.
In addition, not to miss is a small work by Louise Bourgeois dated from the 1930's that can pass as a thrift store painting, and a recent painting by Brendan Cass that revives gestural painting from its slumber.
- John Everett Daquino
Images: Mark Fox, Nutzilla (2008); John Polypchuk, Watch Your Face Fat Head (2006). Courtesy Cheim & Read.