Review: Self Destructive Ego at Redefine Gallery

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In Redefine’s tiny front gallery at the City Arts Factory, the work of Austin artist Eduardo Flores (aka “Bayo”) reflects an intense, masculine world – one that, as the title of the show indicates, is full of self-destructive egos.  The imperfect humans in his portraits stare sullenly and defiantly at the viewer, as if they struggle with inner conflict. They look tormented and grim, as if they accept defeat and disfigurement at the hands of their tormenters.

Flores, who was born in Mexico City, has a rare talent for portraiture. In each of his graphite drawings on display here, he manages to construct dark worlda in the faces of his subjects.

Two larger-than-life portraits from this show, “Male” and “Female,” are visible from Pine Street. The feminine face, partially obscured by long greasy tangles of hair, has a slack-jawed, vacant affect that evokes emptiness. The face of the male figure is, by contrast, menacing. Its slightly parted lips barely conceal a sneer, and its eyes – wide-set and off-kilter – bridge the chasm between classical portraiture and the newbrow, an eerie and unsettling combination of both psychological angst and sci-fi sensibility.

The subjects of Flores’ other portraits, meanwhile, seem as if they are helpless to shed self-inflicted burdens. “Voices” shows a man staggering, face contorted in agony, under the weight seven other men clustered on his back, their hands clawing at him, tearing him apart. “Monster,” features a grimacing murderer with his weapon in hand, and “The Tea Pot” focuses on a seated man who has sprouted a heavy, motor-like contraption out of his back, upon which a tea pot is precariously perched. These unflattering images convey an overwhelming sense of self-hatred, of the bondage of gender roles and social expectations.

There is little room for humor in these pieces – even the ones that seem like they could evoke a smile. “Ventriloquist,” for instance, would be comical except for the intense sadness apparent on the face of the ventriloquist it portrays. “The Great Escape with Flies” shows a fat man wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt being lifted by flies from strings attached to his elbows and knees, a morose expression of helplessness on his downturned face. The heavy, thick-necked beings inhabiting this gallery loom large in the psyche – and the emotions they evoke are all too real on the streets outside. Like their surreal counterparts in this gallery, there are far too many thick-necked men losing battles with themselves in this world.

Redefine Gallery will hold a closing night party for the Self Destructive Ego show tomorrow night (March 4) at the gallery at 29 South Orange Ave, 407-648-7060. There will be five new pieces on display for the evening and music by DJ Rod One. Admission is free.

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