476 Broome Street
New York 10013
his second solo exhibition at PPOW gallery, James Esber continues to
pull, ply and distort sexist and racist hate images culled from popular
American sources. But this time a more subtle use of these taboo subjects
operates as they intrude, creep into and subvert America's most beloved
off Norman Rockwell and late-1960's doe-eyed figurines, Esber spins
grotesque, trippy amalgams on canvas and in plasticine wall adhesions.
In BOYS' CLUB, a Rockwellian group of youths merge into a torqing mass
of conjoined quadruplets. Close inspection reveals fingerprints left
in the wake of the artist's pummeling the now writhing plasticine relief.
Another platicine piece titled I WUV U consists of a flayed, splayed
and stretched version of these beloved 99-cent shop figurines. It is
as if a cartoon steamroller or a Mr. Bill episode left behind this figural
panoramic road kill.
turns from bold plasticine modeling to bravura brushwork and electric
color in the paintings on canvas. In RABBIT TALK, a distended lipped,
Tom/Huck like little tramp innocently bends toward a rabbit as, unbeknownst
to him, his body unfurls in a eruptive rush of dropped trousers, sprouting
limbs, breasts, high heeled leather boots, and exposed genitalia. SELF
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A FOURSOME offers a similarly sympathetic
boy, this time hunched and writing at a desk, tongue pointed in concentration.
Underneath the surface of the desk, Esber hits below the belt with an
image of copulation that grows like fungi off gnarled tree bark. Like
a Peter Saul composition or Ivan Albright decompositions, there's plenty
for viewers to occupy themselves with here. Try to find and count the
variety and number of feet twisting in a single figure or watch a lock
of hair morph into an eviscerated intestine. Esber seems to collaborate
with himself as each exquisite corpse in this exhibition floats in an
exuberant flight of fancy, celebrating the orgasmic multiplicity of
freedom while indexing the perversions of repression, objectification