The Dimming Room By Chris Mars
One thing really stands out when I look back on this past weekend: it was an amazing couple of days for checking out rad, edgy new art in New York City. Sometimes an art exhibit is made all the more impactful by the space in which it’s displayed. This is definitely true when it comes to a venue I visited for the first time on Saturday night. If you can remember back to the time, about ten years ago I think it was, when the Limelight nightclub was in full swing and much of the club’s interior resembled something from the most horrific pages of a Clive Barker novel, then you will want to check out an art space called the Last Rites Gallery. Like your darkest, Halloween-meets-Hellraiser nightmares, Last Rites, which is also a tattoo parlor, is a trip in itself before you even get into the gallery space, and really must be experienced to be fully appreciated. People who really know me know that I like dark, fucked up shit, so I just fell in love with the place immediately and will absolutely be returning for future exhibits.
Right now, Last Rites has two cool shows running simultaneously. The first, curated by Jason D’Aquino and entitled Lead Poisoning, is a group show with contributions from over forty artists who work in a black, white and grayscale palette. A few of my favorite artists including Greg “Craola” Simkins, Ron English, Robert Williams and Michael Mararian have pieces in the show. This exhibit definitely fits into the realm of dark art that Last Rites is reputed for. Loved it.
The second exhibit is a solo show by D’Aquino featuring drawings and sketches in his whimsically twisted signature style, executed in graphite on ledger paper and other unorthodox canvases such as actual matchbook cover interiors. D’Aquino’s passion for mixing almost storybook innocence with violent, sexual or otherwise disturbing images reminded me a lot of the amazing work of Mark Ryden. My favorite drawing was one depicting a sailor who has just harpooned a mermaid under the watchful eye of a smiling full moon. Unbelievable! Jason has also made some interesting modifications to Milton Bradley’s classic Operation board game that you will appreciate if you ever owned that game as a child.
Photo By Geoffrey Dicker (Click to Enlarge)
The Brave Words heavy metal news site has a super informative post which will go into a lot more detail about both exhibits than I am going into here, so I suggest you check that out at this link if you have any questions about what you are going to see. But mostly, I would just suggest that you don’t miss these exhibits.
Last Rites Gallery is located at 511 W. 33rd Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10001. Both shows run through July 25th, 2010.