‘New Works by Liz and Maurice Treviño’

Liz and Maurice Treviño's new, poster-art- influenced paintings are tragic, but they're too specific, sharp, and clean to be morose

Arts Review

New Works by Liz and Maurice Treviño

Camp Fig, through Feb. 12

Like a French film, everyone dies in the end. Painters Liz and Maurice Trevi–o seem aligned with this premise. In their own words, this husband-and-wife team, who have been showing regularly in San Antonio since 2001, are on "an endless search for the 'coolest' image with the 'saddest' title." For their first Austin solo show, they've made four large, vampy, poster-art-influenced paintings, ranging from 4 feet by 6 feet to 6 feet by 8 feet. Is the title Vultures Ate My Baby's Heart sad enough for you?

Perhaps oddly, I don't find this show depressing. It's too specific, sharp, and clean to be morose. The couple's dramatic, simple compositions are reminiscent of vintage pulp, fantasy, and propaganda posters, and show an obvious nod to Sixties Pop Art. Camp Fig counselor Josh Rios says, "Despite their influence by the Pop movement, they have stayed away from the clinical, ironic mirroring of contemporary culture and instead chosen to use this imagery and style as a springboard for a very personal type of expression. With each set of paintings they have reduced and distilled the imagery into this current manifestation which is very singular and elegant."

Indeed, the show has an idealized sentimentality that is unique and bold. The set was painted specifically to fit the gallery space, and all four paintings use the same color palette: gloss black, white, tan, yellow, and blood red. Liz, a UT-San Antonio printmaking major, and Maurice, a UT-SA painting major, make all of their thrilling content decisions together. They photograph friends or each other as source material, then agree on the design as a team. Maurice draws all the imagery free hand, with his thick and thin linear style. Then they finish the smooth surface together. Their work is extremely consistent. The compositions are structured the way a printer would: flat. They would translate well to four-color offset printing.

Rios notes, "One thing that is particularly nagging about their work is how they choose to render the darkness of the world. They don't tackle it in the way that most painters would, allowing the visceral sensation that radiates from the marks or splatters or gashes on the canvas to tell the story. Instead, they render their images in precise commercial tones and lines that seem more hopeless than any feral sloppiness could ever dream of being." He feels strongly that portraying violence sincerely, as in Untitled (Hands and Razor), is an important unjaded social statement. "The distancing that we put on [violence and death] via the commercial ad world is much worse [than real physical violence] because it speaks to our inability to connect, which is why we can easily bomb without remorse; we are too busy buying teeth-whitening products or Febreeze." There is an interesting ethical conundrum in these comments, which I greatly prefer to actually running from bullets. The Trevi–os offer their own custom brand of desensitizing; they call attention to the daily torment of our emotional lives.

These paintings are crisp demonstrations of emotional vulnerability. They are more akin to Roy Lichtenstein than Andy Warhol. I like the tragic quality to these pieces. With them, the Trevi–os stake a claim on that part of your brain that can't turn away from a horror film.

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New Works by Liz and Maurice Treviño, Camp Fig, Liz Treviño, Maurice Treviño, Josh Rios, Vultures Ate My Baby's Heart

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