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When: Jan. 22-30 2013
Price: free

ForFiguration, clothing boutique and gallery Loakal (full disclosure: Express is a co-founder of the space) brings together three artists whose work prominently engages with the human figure. Helen Bayly, John Felix Arnold III, and James Swinson each delight in the form of this immediately understood subject, accentuating its shapes and contours, while also pushing it into its more extreme modes of representation. Bayly, borrowing from European art history as well as from contemporary culture, renders her subjects as mythological as they are hedonistic: Cell phones and malt liquor make their way into her spiraling, baroque illustrations. Arnold, for his part, describes his super-heroic figures using the brash, hyperactive, and contrast-heavy language of the graphic novel. Swinson, while eschewing the more direct pictorial approaches of his co-exhibitors, likewise presents a canvas of ample visual noise -- here in the form of a tiled composition blasted with scrawled text and vivid paint drips. Ultimately, figuration seems but the base frequency for these artists, who are above all concerned with cranking up volume. Figuration runs through January 30 at Loakal (550 2nd St., Oakland). 510-842-3474 or

— Alex Bigman


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