Opening Reception: February 1, 2019 6-9pm
One After 909 is thrilled to present Phantasmagoria, a solo exhibition by Paul Lamantia. The title refers to a form of horror theatre popular in the Victorian era, which was designed to shock and scare audiences through supernatural optical illusions. Lamantia’s mixed media works on paper are phantasmagoric in their dark depictions of the subconscious mind.
While the majority of the work in Phantasmagoria was made in the 2000s, the exhibition is anchored by two pieces created in 1970s. Characteristic of Lamantia’s oeuvre, Your Favorite Sores Bronze Plated in Raw Meat (1977) looks like a still from a nightmare, a snapshot of a scene of murderous monsters. Violence is implied by splashes of blood red that slowly leak from the top of the paper and coat the characters’ claws. His more recent frozen pizza box portrait series (2014-2018) is more subdued in color and subject matter with its soft peach backgrounds and tame single figures. By painting on top of the boxes, Lamantia morphs pizza photography into skin and multiple sets of eyes to create nightmarish caricatures, sharing an affinity with the 16th century Mannerist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s food portraits. Drawn in 1971 and colored in 2018, Dreams of Reasonbridges Lamantia’s artistic past and present.
Although Lamantia is a contemporary of the Chicago Imagists and shares elements of their style such as satire, irony, visual puns, and a cartoon look, he stands apart from them because of the rough edginess that is entirely his own. The emotional force in his work stems from his obsession with dreams and visions, which he manifests onto paper with automatic techniques of expression using pens, markers, crayons, and paint.
Lamantia’s works on paper turn the gallery into a theatre of horror where monsters gnash their teeth and writhe in frenzied formations. The effects of phantasmagoria are most keenly felt in an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, which is an accurate description of today’s climate. Lamantia’s dynamic drawings are experiential. Viewers can interpret Lamantia’s fantastical work in multiple ways by projecting their own unconscious fears and passions onto his imagery.
Image: Paul Lamantia, Dreams of Reason, 1971-2018, Acrylic and drawing on paper