‘Proud to be a Hero’ review: Laurina Paperina mocking art celebrities, a breath of fresh air. Laurina Paperina’s exhibition, “Proud to be a Hero,” at Fouladi Projects, was a breath of fresh air within the desiccated, People Magazine, center-less frenzy of the current climate of contemporary art celebrity. Paperino’s show, which closed October 18, 2014, features an abundance of work mocking contemporary (art) celebrities. The works range from several dozen paintings, collaged photographs, projected animations, to a green neon sign, which reads L😀ser. Paperino clustered several dozen small to mid-sized paintings against a sidewall, and placed them within what seemed like the body of an enormous intoxicated raccoon.
The paintings featured crude cartoons of all the big names in contemporary art culture. Those included in the roast ranged from Mike Kelley, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Marina Abramovic, Takashi Murakami, Yves Klein, Ai WeiWei, Miley Cyrus, and more. The most relevant was a painting with a cartoon hand in the foreground flipping off a hung-over Ai Weiwei in the background and text that read ‘Fuck You, Ai WeiWei’. This clever regurgitation of Ai’s ‘Study of Perspective’ series coincides with the China’s favorite political artist’s mammoth and failed installation in the Bay Area, “Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz.” Another painting, ‘The End of Takashi Murakami’, shows a decapitated Murakami, with three of his quintessential flower-faced characters hovering above him, toothy grimaces and blood dripping from their mouths. This painting really hits home for me, as I find myself craving to decapitate Murakami ever time I view his work for more than thirty seconds.
|Ai WeiWei: haven't we all felt like this|
Opposite the raccoon wall was a only slightly more somber series of medium scale photographic prints. These seven photographic portraits included E.T, Damien Hirst, Homer Simpson, Marshmallow Man, Banksy’s Rat, Smurfette, and Spiderman, all with animated balloon shaped faces photoshopped onto them. The sequencing of these figures, side by side down a row, is crucial. The sandwiching of Damien Hirst, between E.T and Homer Simpson, creates a sci fi-pop garbage aesthetic that Hirst’s work carefully bypasses. However, when you think about it you can’t help but say, this is true. It’s no wonder why Hirst, so obviously “pop” in his sensibilities, is so keen to avoid a direct engagement with it. Paperina’s neighboring portraits of Homer Simpson and Hirst brought about an amazing realization: Hirst’s facial expressions are a mere fleshly 3-D version of Homer Simpson’s.
“Proud To Be A Hero,” catches viewers off guard with its intelligent and sarcastic recontextualization of the idea of the cultural hero. Paperina’s has neatly packaged the art world in a vulgar pop aesthetic and it’s chilling. She allows viewers to engage in the ridicule of figures otherwise viewed as abstract untouchable entities. At the opening, Paperino said, “The world is bad enough to make sad art, I want to have fun and make people smile, entertain them.” She couldn’t have been more successful, but the real pleasure is that the smile comes with a sting.
|The Raccoon is hungry|