I spotted this hilariously huge model of a set of teeth and gums as part of the Healthyville Children’s Wellness exhibit, in the basement of the Museum of Chinese in America, which is on Lafayette Street, a few blocks North of Canal Street, in Chinatown.
Fans of sculptor Colin Christian’s pristinely manufactured, fiberglass futuristic Barbie Doll-like sculptures and Hello Kitty aliens are in for something completely different with Trypohobia, the artist’s disturbing new show that opened this past Saturday with an outrageously fun reception at Stephen Romano Gallery in DUMBO.
For the works exhibited in Trypophobia, Colin Christian mines a dark night of the soul to create sculptures that look like something lifted from a David Cronenberg film (and, in an interview with Samuel D. Gliner, available in the show’s catalog, Christian does admit to having watched a lot Cronenberg films) for what is arguably the artist’s most polarizing and personal body of work. Gallery owner Stephen Romano described it to me as Christian’s way of expressing a “Tsumani of Sadness” that he was feeling in his life. And there is no denying that his willingness to put himself way “Out There” is definitely getting a huge reaction – whatever that reaction may be.
While the casual observer might assume that Trypophobia has something to do with teeth, the exhibit actually takes its title from the “pathological fear of objects with irregular patterns of holes, such as beehives, ant hills and lotus seed heads.” If you Google the word, you’ll pull up a lot of images that resemble the work above.
When I spoke with Colin at the exhibit (and let me just say that he simply could not be nicer) and asked him, “what’s up with all the teeth,” he said that he dreamed them. Specifically, he talked about having dreams where his teeth were loose or falling out. I have also had similar dreams off and on throughout my life, so I know what he is talking about and am familiar with the sense of anxiety that prompts such unquiet sleep. You have to respect someone who is brave enough to be so publicly vulnerable.
A group of live models conceived and designed by artist Kalyana Thiru (a regular fixture of Romano Gallery shows) literally brought Colin’s visceral work to life, as seen in the photo above, with more below. Like much of the artwork, I found these ladies simultaneously strangely compelling and yet extremely difficult to look at.
Saturdays’ opening reception was also notable for having inspired a great turn out in very inclement NYC weather, as everyone seemed eager to kick off a new year of art with such a groundbreaking show. The atmosphere at the Romano Gallery was palpably festive with a DJ spinning in one gallery, free-flowing wine, the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and also to make many new acquaintances. Stephen Romano knows how to throw a great party!
We also got to rub elbows with some of our favorite artists, including Colin Christian’s lovely wife, Sas Christian (she is easy on the eyes, that is for sure), along with Jim McKenzie, Eric Richardson, Hannah Faith Yata, Gigi Chen, Martin Wittfooth and Brandon Sines, an artist best known for having had one of his paintings made into a dress on Project Runway!
Mercifully, there was no representation of the legendary Vagina Dentata, though I sure many were expecting / hoping to see one.
Colin Christian’s Trypophobia will be on Exhibit Through February 28th, 2015 at Stephen Romano Gallery, Located at 111 Front Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Through the 1980s and into the ‘90s, Sweet Toof built his career and reputation as a prolific street/graffiti artist across his home country of England. In recent years, this enigmatic artist has moved from the street into the gallery with his paintings and sculptures, often depicting paint roller-wielding, smartly dressed skeletal protagonists, each sharing one very distinguishing facial feature. Sweet Toof’s first New York solo exhibition, Dark Horse is now showing at Brooklyn’s Factory Fresh Gallery. The Worley Gigrecommends this show as a Must See!
Sweet Toof’s work – which is instantly recognizable for its subjects’ trademark over-sized teeth set in swollen gums – is heavily influenced by the Vanitas Paintings of sixteenth century Europe, Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Subway Art and the underground comics of Vaughn Bodé. While there is a good deal of visual humor in his work, Sweet Toof takes on darker subjects such as free speech (and lack thereof), colonialism, political revolution and death; but his paintings are provocative enough to be open to a wide range of interpretations. He is definitely an artist whose strident voice doesn’t preclude leaving the viewer free to find his or her own meaning in his very unique art. Factory Fresh Gallery co-owner Ali Ha was also super friendly and very excited to answer any questions we had about the show. I enjoyed Dark Horse very much and it was way worth the short trek to Brooklyn! I’m looking forward to visiting this space again for future exhibits.
Before leaving the neighborhood, be sure to take a leisurely stroll up and down the one-block long side street bordering the gallery’s south face, not only to check out a ton of other colorful street art and graffiti but also to see the “gum line” that Sweet Toof has painted across the full length of the top of one of the buildings (see photo below).
Sweet Toof’s Dark Horse Runs Through May 22, 2011 at Factory Fresh, Located at 1053 Flushing Avenue between Morgan and Knickerbocker (off the Morgan stop on the L train) in Brooklyn, NY. Gallery Hours are Wednesday – Sunday from 1-7 PM.