Repressed Burial Fantasy
We're all meat
Okay Mountain, a new Eastside gallery, opens strong with "Repressed Burial Fantasy," a solo exhibition of new works by Jason Villegas, a former Texas resident currently getting his MFA at Rutgers. Humans take delight in labeling, categorizing, and generally ordering things. In the grand scheme of things, our earthly categories are perhaps insufficient to describe the vastness of the universe. This powerlessness and general futility is a theme throughout Villegas' work, as seen in such past solo exhibitions as "Absolute Destiny Apocalypse" at Deborah Colton Gallery, "Beast Taxidermy" at CSAW, "Growth Hormone Mutation Make-Over" at Plush, and "Romantic Hunger & Poverty Pains" at Montgomery College.
Doomed Catamari, a mixed-media piece on paper, depicts an asteroid belt in a blue Milky Way gradually being sucked toward an orange and yellow star. The cosmic landscape is lightly indicated by acrylic splatters and a couple of gradient washes. The asteroids themselves are drawn tightly in graphite. Their little pits, openings, and mysterious barnacle edges remind me a bit of Bob Anderson's cavelike drawings. Among the doomed space junk there floats a veritable ball of cats. A shaggy lion appears to have a magnetism that attracts little housecats, jaguars, tigers, and other members of the feline family toward him. This cluster of kitties seems alert and intact, peacefully floating through space, but whatever magical force sucked them outward, keeping all the felines together and giving them zero-gravity life skills, is still not going to save them from burning in the star. Doomed Catamari is part The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobeâ with bits of illustrative charm, but couched in abstraction and a dying-in-outer-space apocalypse scenario. It's cute and fear-inducing at the same time.
There are many ways to perish, and this art gently reminds us we are all meat for a bigger creature at some point. This exhibit shifts between sculptural installation, works on paper, and video animation. In the past, Villegas' installations consisted of painting a very large and imposing wall monster of some kind, then integrating a soft-sculpture pile of pink gutlike entrails nearby. The creature is indiscriminately consuming something human-sized. Scale is important to these works. The monsters might be cute, like doodles or animé, but they are bigger than us, so they are innately threatening. This common threat serves to unify the viewing audience.
The animated video Celestial Situations appears to include a ginormous green space monster with eyes that glow like stars and major urban destruction going down. The Okay Mountain Web site states, "These strange crude life forms pulsate and splatter through a cosmic soup of gluttony and consumption. A universe filled with puckered stars spew forth the debris and excrement of a global big bang economy driven by insatiable human appetites. These symbolic, often absurd relationships serve a continuing question of value and worth on an ever decaying mythic scale." I can't wait to see this show.
"Repressed Burial Fantasy" runs April 27-June 3 at Okay Mountain, 1312 E. Cesar Chavez, Ste B. Opening reception: Thursday, April 27, 7-10pm. For more information, visit www.okaymountain.com.