All Too Human 

Three painters depict the oddness of ordinary life.

Television and movies hype reality; real life is interesting in a more idiosyncratic way. The satirical paintings of Richard Kramer, Dickson Schneider, and Raymond Wong collectively entitled, in an appropriately eccentric manner, Queen & Country, point up the strangeness of the familiar.

Kramer's paintings seem to be based on family snapshots that are occasionally combined, creating discomfiting domestic dramas. In "Building Models" a generic, Central Casting dad and his eight-year-old son (in car-print pajamas) sit at a card table in front of the living-room TV, the man scowling while holding a plastic airplane, and the boy beaming, while a sashed and swimsuited beauty queen smiles to unseen spectators. "Halloween 2005" derives from the familiar familial flash photo of Trick-or-Treaters, but the unadorned faces of the older kids seem as disturbing as the masked face of the younger child, who is posed like Munch's screaming homunculus. "The Wedding Party" depicts ungainly teen boys, all hands and feet, coolly killing time in a drably anonymous banquet room.

Schneider depicts stylized figures with huge eyes and lips, sloping foreheads, and spindly, rubbery bodies, in tableaux satirizing art (paintings by Fragonard, Mondrian, Currin, and Yuskavage) and fashion ("Value Contrast," with its sober black mother and chic, shallow New Look daughter). "Hearts and Minds" replaces the hero who faced down the Tiananmen tanks with a slim blond Dior fashionista. "Dia Beacon," named after a New York museum of contemporary art, presents a trio of young urbanites beating up a huddled (and badly dressed) woman in an alley; it's a secular Flagellation, and Schneider's most compelling painting here.

Wong depicts incongruous situations as well, but his theme is dislocation, or deracination, to judge from one of his painting titles. In "DMZ," a Chinese guard or soldier wanders though a deserted Office Max parking lot. The pudgy, phlegmatic swimmer in "Ex Astris, Scientia" seems unaware of the space shot transpiring in the background, despite his casual victory gesture. In "Queen and Country" a man rides a woman piggyback past a bobbing-bird oil pump; both smilingly peer into the distance. Queen and Country runs through March 1 at Autobody Fine Art (1517 Park St., Alameda). 510-865-2608.


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