Ill wind

By GREG COOK  |  January 14, 2008

The other “Strangefolks” painters are John Copeland of Brooklyn and Logan Grider of Kentucky. Copeland’s Your Eyes Are So Peaceful, But Your Hands Want More (2007) features two red, meaty blurry figures that seem to be wrestling on a snowy hillside under a blue-black night sky. It’s unclear what’s going on because of Copeland’s vigorous, loose, fluid style, but it looks bloody and violent, as if one figure had beaten the other to death. Random props — a fried egg on a plate, a Christmas tree on a stand, disembodied heads, a potted plant — fill out the scene. Busts of three figures hover in the air, like supernatural witnesses. Copeland’s other paintings remind me a bit of Gary Baseman (the illustrator behind Disney’s Teacher’s Pet) with ranks of cartoony devil heads and skulls (some with wings) threatening one another with tanks and cannons (or maybe they’re dicks and balls).

Grider has described his theme as a looming collapse of technology. Media Coverage (2007) depicts a teetering pile of televisions, power strips, wires, bowling balls (I think), pointy sticks (or maybe they’re rockets or chair backs), and a post with what appear to be hand grenades on top. Futurehuman (2007) shows a head sealed in a mask built from a tangle of wires, pipes, nails, and patches. It looks like some sort of techno bondage gear. Grider’s compositions and stylizations recall the work of the great young painter Dana Schutz, though his paint is a bit drier, thinner, more scraped down. Schutz’s work is a good place to find inspiration, but it would be nice to see Grider discover more of his own voice.

This month, LaMontagne Gallery moved out of an outpost on Melcher Street, near the Institute of Contemporary Art, where it opened last May, and reopened with a two-person show in a second-floor loft in South Boston, a block south of the Distillery.

New Yorker Langdon Graves’s selection of drawings and sculptures turns a back room into an evil doctor’s office or an alien lab. One sculpture, Monstrae #6 (2007) is a pink flashlight-like thing with a cord coming off the handle that has a pink thorn point at the end. It seems like a threatening medical probe. Another, Heirloom (2007), looks like a giant vinyl tissue box, or maybe a sink or an altar, sitting atop a hairy post, with a vacuum hose running from the base of the post to the side of the box. Hanging off the wall above is a soft yellow cone-shaped thing that resembles an operating-room lamp. Graves’s mix of vinyl and fur, holes and rods, gives the pieces a memorably discomforting sexual tone. They feel like David Lynch crossed with Claes Oldenburg, with strong echoes of Matthew Barney. Graves’s drawings — disembodied eyes trailing sad beards, a prosthetic arm with needle-point fingers, a woman with peg legs that come to sharp points — are precisely rendered but less distinctive.

Paintings in the main gallery by Brooklyn’s Holly Coulis (who studied at Boston’s Museum School) of a woman in a swimsuit, a man in uniform with a snarling bear in the background, and two guys in Speedos — all exhibiting the deadpan social-realist oddness of East Germany’s Leipzig-school painters — are just okay.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Henry Darger, Boston's Museum School, David Lynch,  More more >
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