Liz Tran Innerverse May 17 - June 29, 2019
As I dig deeper into self, what emerges is the beat of my heart, music evoking memories once thought lost and explorations into my position in the universe. The paintings from Innerverse formed naturally during a transformational period of healing beginning in Spring 2018. It is ongoing to this day.
The small ceramic sculptures of Innerverse were begun over 5 years ago, during an extended bout of the lowest of lows. There was comfort to be found in forming the small objects with my hands and sitting in a room full of people doing the same. Through the years, as I continued to build with ceramics, miniature souvenirs from my travels emerged - loose interpretations of the cairns and volcanoes in Iceland, a pestle found on the playa in Eastern Oregon and the caves from Halong Bay in Vietnam appeared. I continue to “collect” these souvenirs as a way to keep my memories close.
July 5-August 24, 2019
July 5-August 24, 2019
GEORGE RAFTOPOULOS : Playing with gods.
Looking at a work by George Raftopoulos is about playing with gods. Whether they be a doctrine, cultural icon or the things we hold dear. George takes our everyday values and reinvents them via works that surprise, shock but ultimately reward the viewer.
George’s art critiques the Utopia we have settled for. Modernity has become a “bubble land” which we participate in without resistance. We make ourselves comfortable by playing along with everyone else. But George likes to play differently. He illustrates the gods that we have used to mediate our privilege, and breaks them down. Whether they be an embodiment of male false hood in a Ken doll or Selfie images. The result is the revelation of a society in search of the individual. This is also evident in today’s art world which has become a cess pit of self-reflective marketing. Outrage and shock are produced at touch of a button for audiences who will nod their heads at anything. Frequently seen as cultural cache, George corrupts this notion of art. Grabbing a veritable stockpile of socialephemera, he reengineers it in such a way that in a moment it is everything. The audience can’t grab it, before it is gone. You have to look at it again, again and again. A Raftopoulos painting is an act of play written large. We are reminded that the world we think we have created isn’t actually our own work; it’s a carefully orchestrated mass of bullshit.
Raftopoulos asks us to reject our current cultural norms by using those tropes against us. His works are a production run of cut and paste iconography; however, these are not souvenirs from the market stall but a different universe entirely. Whether it is a Barbie doll or Caravaggio painting everything is challenged and turned into a talking point. You smile and ask yourself “who buys this stuff?”, and then you put something in the shopping cart. The works are for questioners and daydreamers, audiences that choose to unpick a narrative rather than follow a corporate line. The subjects in the painting are physically accumulated, sometimes created from scratch, sometimes a copy of something now unrecognisable. These are individuals with literally layers of detail making them function. In an era of speed and generality, George’s work is about time and craftsmanship. Nuanced histories are evoked through tiny brush strokes, neon colors and bold text. This isn’t about supporting a trend but dissecting a broader world view.
Ignoring benevolent community guidelines or hipster smugness, George asks us to feel small and search for our own identity. He lacks the grandiose self-awareness so beloved by the smashed avocado and latte crowd. These images move from delicate and beautiful to painful and sinister. With a lesser artist, the more difficult works in the Raftopoulos catalogue might get passed by. But George sustains the viewer, via his control of color, texture and script. The audience is left feeling empowered rather than rudderless. I am reminded of being on a highway, following it like a journeyman. The images blur around me with a slogan catching my eye. It could be advertising, a warning or both. Are the subjects that exist in George’s art ghosts on the horizon or neighbors in the rear view mirror? Looking deeper through the neon paint and Indian linen the effect is of a life moving through space. Time blurs the line between the subject and you. Whether seen up close or viewed in the distance the figures that inhabit the frame become portraits. Importantly they are not of royalty or select cultural stereotypes. They are of me, perhaps not literally but definitely me in spirit. That’s George the jester’s key joke. A healthy reminder that time is too short to live in someone else's reality. We should play more and be the gods of our own.
PLAYING 4 my friend G Raft
Playing is the most subversive act anyone can commit.
To be the trickster. A total disregard for the suit unless you are an observer at a nudist colony.
Bend and twist the map to find something of yourself.
To take outrageous fortune and slingshot it back at your enemy, all whilst riding a unicycle.
It is your origin story.
Playing is the choice between the reality you have and the reality you want to be.
It is kindness in cruelty. Love in anger. Tears in joy.
Playing is never an absolute. It is the path to endless possibilities, brilliant grandeur and unbridled misery.
It is one of the hardest skills to master. That's why we give up on childhood.
Playing is more than a game. It is shameful, forbidden, hidden.
It is not being the same. It is isolation and indifference.
Playing is being brave, ephemeral and momentous.
Most of the time it cannot stop injustice, cure cancer or make you more attractive to the opposite sex. But some of the time it does.
Our nature is to play with our nature. So do it before you go blind.
© John Burns 2019