by Allison Meier for artinfo.com
During the days leading up to next week’s All Hallows’ Eve, why not embark on a quest to see some exhibitions of the more unsettling kind? Here, in place of our usual weekly New Yorkitinerary, we present a twisted trail of art to gnaw at the dark recesses of the mind and perhaps draw out some lumbering horror. Happy gallery haunting! (To see this feature as an illustrated slideshow, click here.)
In Teodora Axente’s disquieting oil paintings, people are constricted by tin foil, fabric, and even a tortuous-looking neck brace in murky tones that would have thrilled Francis Bacon. This is the Romanian artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States, and her focus on “the duality of spirit and matter” comes out in explorations of the desire of humans to subvert their shape.
Named for the chimerical “Twin Peaks” locale of backwards-speaking doppelgangers, red curtains, and really bad coffee, this group exhibition takes inspiration from David Lynch’s “Black Lodge” without being anything resembling fan art. Expect instead eerie creations that convey strange vision quests, the mesmerism of repetition, and encounters with surreal women.
Because the Swiss artist August derived this sound and space installation from a 1976 Atari “music visualization device” and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” it is likely to have its unnerving moments. It even comes with a trailer video showing someone walking alone in the woods to droning noise, for added anxiety.
Gleefully grotesque, Scooter LaForge’s paintings skillfully mix cats, clowns, skeletons, and other curious characters in chaotic brushstrokes that manage to terrify and amuse at once. The whole thing is like a childhood nightmare, post-Trick-or-Treating — if the child in question had a mental landscape accented in acid hues.
These moody landscapes are photographed by Baldridge with a motion-activated game camera and then printed over graphite-covered watercolored paper. A sense of foreboding haunts the resulting prints, which offer a shadowy vision of untamed places, glimpsed as if through a mirror dimly lit.
A small swarm of cephalopods and contorted worms crafted by Fox seem to have been displaced from the mysterious ocean depths. While the sculptures of squids and octopi are more cuddly than Cthulhu, the worms bring out shades of instinctive revulsion — especially when accompanied by a life-size “Mermaid,” whose naked form contrasts with their fleshy, anatomical curves.
Reserve your Day of the Dead now for this group exhibition that is resuscitated for a second life after premiering at Momentum Berlin in 2011. Here artists interpret death and what comes after in new media work, including Fiona Pardington’s “We Dream of Gentle Morphius” (2011), which features projections of forgotten objects as an act of mourning, and Osvaldo Budet’s documentary on theatrical wakes in Puerto Rico.
If the thought of animal blood congealing on gauze makes you queasy, maybe stay away from this one. Despite the macabre material, the resin-encased works with iridescent splashes of red are not going for the visceral reaction; this is much more of a celebration of blood as a pulsing, life-giving wonder.
Viktor Koen has taken old, beat up toys and, like an amateur Dr. Frankenstein, reanimated them into adorable abominations for his photographs, transforming a doll’s head into a sci-fi hero with a dinosaur spine for hair, and using a skull and a telephone to make a hideous version of a teddy bear.
Two Australian artists offer uniquely disconcerting perspectives in their first U.S. solo exhibitions. Ashley Wood’s perversely sensual polaroids and oil paintings blanketed in black paint darkly contrast the erotic with abstractions of suburbia and tableaux of ghoulish surgery. Jeremy Geddes’s paintings lean towards the supernatural, with levitating figures and birds depicted alongside people breaking like dreaming heroes through brick walls and astronauts crashing down on apocalyptically empty streets.