Do you love a good pop culture mash-up? I sure do, and Joseph Gross Gallery has an excellent one up right now for just a few short weeks, so don’t even wait until you’re done reading this review (kidding) to run over and check out James Charles’ Monstro Eyegasmica, which, I will just say right now, is completely fucking insane.
Monstro Eyegasmica — great title! – collects five of Charles’ large, mixed media paintings in which the artist combines illustration, painting and collage-style composition to create works that are at once strikingly familiar and gloriously unsettling.
For example, the exhibit’s eponymous work (seen above) combines The Kiss by Gustav Klimt and that famous scene in the original Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston’s character kisses the monkey lady. Seriously, this is a work of genius.
Elsewhere, Charles’ brand-jamming artwork irreverently combines pop culture characters with traditional iconography and embodies a sarcastic sense of humor. Here we see an enlightened Ronald McDonald sitting in for Jimi Hendrix of the cover of the album Axis: Bold As Love.
T.R.I.A.P.S. (Two Rats in a Psychedelic Sock) puts an R Crumb-esque spin on Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Bride of Pinkenstein marries the Bride of Frankenstein as portrayed by Angela Lansbury with one of the world’s most famous paintings, Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of eleven year-old Sarah Barrett Moulton, better known as Pinkie.
How absolutely perfect then that Charles dresses his likeness of Frankenstein’s Monster in the outfit worn by Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, which hangs directly opposite Pinkie in the permanent collection of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.
Charles has also worked as a commercial sculptor, creating toy prototypes for the likes of Disney, Mattel, and Hasbro, so you can see where his irreverence and keen humor is coming from. His work reminds me very much of Ron English’s Popaganda movement, but with a more refined sense of the absurd.
James Charles’ Monstro Eyegasmica will be on Exhibit Through November 25th, 2015 at Joseph Gross Gallery, Now Located in a Fabulous Street Level Space at 548 at West 28th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.