'The Temptation of St. Anthony' by the Cuoto Brothers

‘Beyond the Lines’ | ‘BG Gallery’ Art Review (1/2)

October 18, 2017

Last Saturday held a slew of art openings on the Westside. The Bergamot Station, as usual, had a prominent exhibition of a multitude of artists in a trio of their galleries. The first on the itinerary was the several artists exhibiting at Beyond the Lines.

 

The first which caught my eye intently was the photography of Carl Shubs. His Modeling is a wonderful elevation of what art photography can be – critically thoughtful. By providing a social commentary on the inherent self-absorption that is created from juveniles using information technology, we see a pink-sugary humorous absurdity of this social reality which necessarily piques the thought of what the future will bring to those whom are so alienated from a world which is not centered around their lives?

 

 

Of course, there is the patent element of female glamor apparent with the title, but extrapolating this broken and craven human development of girls burgeoning with the need to be beautiful – or transitioning to womanhood – with an obsession with appearance, i.e. vanity, rather than an obsession with something transcendent to their appearance, is conceivably dreadful. For how is a good mother to be when she finds her child, who is contingent on her life, a distraction to her self-loving? The greatest whisper in this amazing work of art is the school setting – with great power from technology comes great responsibility, which is hardly being educated.

 

Another artist was cheeky with the whir of summertime zeal. The playfully creative innuendo of inflatable devices would be a perfect fit in a pool house or hotel resort seeking to be whimsically irreverent.

 

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Besides these works, however, the exhibition was slightly disappointing. The artists were in general still developmental and not providing anything lasting to the public. One artist for instance was discovering the limits of lines and hence space, but this is nothing that has not been under the sun before, most popularly with Clyfford Still.

 

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There were other artists, too, that were demonstrating less universal artwork and more privately enjoyable. A difficult to physically maneuver around and hence poorly curated experimental series of the feminine and perhaps vaginal is, by its very nature, culturally dampened with the categorically one-sided sexual expressivity. This is clear when we juxtapose it to Mr. Shubs’ Modeling aforementioned. The experiment might have been worthy and saved with its trials in texture, but then it was lost with its ritualistic, altar-pieces which make the works feel subjectively obeisant to a pagan Feminine rather than a more universal transcendent.

 

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We also had outright male homosexual aestheticism. This is easy to deduce, rather than interpret the artist as heterosexually female, because of the glorification of the phallus and the male body de facto. It is a sexualizing of the physical form of males which is distinct from the quintessence of masculinity and virility – which is action. A man acting to make the world, rather than posing in his conspicuously chosen underwear. Again, likewise with the feminine worship, this is an aesthetic which is not universally profound and lacks a revelatory message to the maximal possible subjects or subjectivity.

 

One final comment at this gallery, and this is with art that is too byzantine to be absorbed. It is, mind you, always easier to critique than to create, and henceforth easier to deride too little thought put into an artwork and then too much! As is the case here, where there is a veritable forestry of symbolism which makes each intricate, hand-crafted composition.

 

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No doubt Gender Dysphoria – The Little Prince/The Big Queen is not empty, yet by being encumbered with an abundance of moving parts, the whole suffers. We are given a diptych, to be sure, of a dichotomous world predetermined by one’s sex chromosomes. How curious it is, though, that these worlds are so segregated. Is this natural? By necessity, the biological sexes are contingent upon each other to form a greater whole. Yet, and this recalls the Modeling photograph, why is gender framed here so self-concerning rather than open to being made complete by another half? Why is the dysphoria presented so binary? The artist is not trying to make a statement per se, but rather is fulfilling an intellectual challenge caused by a frankly evanescent cultural motion. I find this intellectualism to be onanistic, then, as it does not further evolve the idea of gender dysphoria, it only woefully expresses it.

 

Next at the BG Gallery, the most advanced amidst the armory of art, ranging from photography to mixed media, was The Temptation of St. Anthony by the Cuoto Brothers.

 

 

Firstly remarkable is the subject matter. A revitalization of a seriously religious topic contemporaneously demonstrates how absent historical religiosity is in today’s society. When it is novel to imagine the narrative of St. Anthony one must wonder what is currently sanctified? Not to say Catholicism ought to or had been dominant in America, only that we have a glimpse of the secular inebriation of the culture as a reminder with this piece.

 

Also remarkable is the propriety in which the narrative is held. It alternatively could have made a mockery out of the saint, for his foolhardy decision to abandon the world and wrestle with the nature of his soul. Instead it centers and pontificates on his choice, perhaps to emulate his Lord and Savior’s own expedition into the wilderness. And the choice of media for the composition’s subjects, reminiscent of Gutenberg-press published fantasy literature, is a clever choice in depicting more or less fantastical demons. They are hideous creatures, but by choosing a literary styling, we have a comfortable distance from the fear and malice they deliver the Saint. This is a composition which is inviting, even to children, allowing us to become engrossed in the illustrated torment. It is this illustration which helps us empathize with the decision-making, persuading us to reflect ourselves and ponder: would we be willing to make such a sacrifice? Have we? This is highly spiritual work!

 

Part 1/2 to be continued…

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