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Bittersweet Curated by Matthew de Leon

Bittersweet exhibited from Sept 21 - Oct 30, 2010 in the HERE gallery.

About the show

opening reception:
tues, sept 21 | 5 - 7 pm

artists
angela basile
valerie garlick
kyoung eun kang
jessica lee
seyhan musaoglu
katrina rhein

Saccharine sweet pieces, whether it be with luscious candy-like surfaces or cute patterned edges, or sugary materials, often get dismissed as pure fluff. I'm interested in taking a second look at works that are more than they appear, and offer opposites in darkness, subtle sadness, and poignancy underneath their candy coating. The artists in Bittersweet tantalize with instant visual pleasure, but as they linger on the tongue, and melt, they become more complex. In Valerie Garlick's videos she often appears as the sole performer. She dresses in gothic attire/make-up, and creates short narratives to 1950's-1960's pop songs, again mining langauge and music that seems perfectly innocent, but can be turned on their head by her actions and stories as something much darker. With humor, irony, and a dash of subversion, Garlick creates a tension between two conflicting personas: the goth girl and the 1950's happy homemaker. Goth culture is normally associated with a very melancholic, angsty disposition which reflects itself in darker, even fetishized clothing and the homemaker is the complete opposite, trying to always externalize a happy, and plucky demeanor. Garlick is at play not only with these opposites, but is also delving into the materiality of food, as it can create painted surfaces on the body, that both invite and repel the viewer as they vary from silky condensed milk to sticky pink frosting.

Angela Basile's weeds are a quiet poetry. The love and caring that goes into the growth and planting of the weeds, a plant life we most often want to rid ourlselves of, is enough to tug at anyone's heart strings. Seyhan Musaoglu's video picks up a sickly sweet and pushes it into a very sexualized and sensual territory. The artist, dolled up with make-up and pink outfit eats a cupcake with a close friend. The childhood treat transforms into a sensually shared experience, like some bodily organ slowly being devoured and bringing the two sets of lips and tongues closer to contact. Kyoung Eun Kang's video Happy Birthday, shows the artist encased in a cocoon-like mass of blue and pink cotton candy, as she slowly eats her way out. The wonder of this startling image is sparked when the first wave of her tongue comes out, looking more like a slug than a human. As the performance video progresses the cotton candy becomes all the more difficult to ingest making it wonderfully visceral and exhausting as the cotton candy begins to disintegrate from her body heat creating stains of pink, blue, and purple.

Jessica Lee's series NumberOneFriends is a memento line-up of paper cut-out portraits of her long loved stuffed animals, now in late stages of fraying and discoloration. Sad and sweet, the portraits never want to let the companions go, no matter how worn their edges become. Katrina Rhein's sculpture of a hardened frosting skull and wig seem to pull from the culture of Mexican sugar skulls, where death can have a celebratory and commemorative meaning. She plays with the fragility and contrast of materials that signify the heavier themes of passing time and remnants left behind.