Cheap thrills

By GREG COOK  |  April 21, 2010

At times, Dr. Lakra gets away from magazine images with original, densely drawn phantasmagorias of morphing, melting faces and naked ladies in an old-comic-book style. The show touches on this work with two 50-foot-wide murals. One depicts a line-up of Aztec, African, and Indonesian idols, plus stacked wine bottles and a penis with legs. The other side conjures breasts, birds, smoke, a skull, a totem pole, a giant trophy with a demon perched on top, and a man’s head filled with visions of women. Both murals feel random, the imagery like a tired Raymond Pettibon knockoff, the painting technique slack.

Which clarifies where the power of his art comes from: the usual pulp titillations of sex and violence. His work is energized by the electricity of the old taboo against tattooing in the West — even as body art has become completely mainstream. And Dr. Lakra can sure draw. But it’s the combo of drawing and appropriated vintage images that makes everything hum. The show is about the comfortable thrill of naughtiness coated in nostalgia. Without those old pictures, the drawings lose their visual and emotional oomph. “Dr. Lakra” might not be deep, but it’s fun while it lasts.

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