I wanted to take the two hottest and most talented female artists in Orlando and put them in a room," says Chris "Tobar" Rodriguez, the local artist who served as curator for this two-woman show at Twelve21 Gallery, "[and] see what their mutual addictions could create."
Gallant as Tobar's compliments to the artists are, some might wish for a more subtle approach (are we curating shows based on artists' hotness now?), but there's no denying sexuality is text and subtext of this show. And there are plenty of art lovers for whom this show will be a holiday wish come true, almost like a little taste of Nude Nite in November – minus the acrobats and performers, but just as full of titillating and eminently gift-worthy paintings and drawings.
Luckily, Morgan Wilson and Lucy Fur (aka Julie Perreth) share other things in common. It's almost tough to tell where one artist's work ends and the other takes up in this show; both paint nudes with a racy charm, mostly in washy colors on raw plywood so that the grain shows through. But there are differences. One woman's work is slickly commercial, while the other's displays an expressive emotionality.
Lucy Fur's graphite-traced nudes appropriate the unfinished wood's natural hue as their own skin tone, lending a doubly naked texture to their startled or apprehensive poses. Many of Perreth's women sport bandaged stumps; her amputees (physical or emotional) are often accompanied by animals – big cats or birds – or are merging with animals, as in a painting of a girl sporting only ram's horns and a stunned look, or another hiding her face in a rabbit mask. Perreth says her paintings depict "the human struggle to coexist with one's animalistic nature"; the overwhelming sense and symbolism of erotic vulnerability tips over into making these women look like prey.
Next to Perreth's exposed bunnies, Morgan Wilson's boldly sexy ladies look more like predators – the kind of women who might feign helplessness as a seductive ploy, but never victims. Wilson's technically accomplished paintings tick off a laundry list of stock fetishes and obsessions: bare-thighed schoolgirls, steampunky heroines, Japanese tentacle porn. Wilson expands on shokushu goukan, in fact, going beyond mere tentacles into crustacean territory – here are paintings of not just a squid, but also a crab and a giant snail in erotic congress with a woman who seems to have dropped out of a 1970s fashion illustration. If it's hentai, it's a Westernized version – these women don't look even slightly terrorized.
Twelve21, which parted ways with curator Sara Poindexter last year, is now curating by committee. A tight group of local artists and arts supporters scout talent and the gallery's owners, Ben Collins and Gilbert Gomez (they also own Laughing Samurai, which designs Orlando Weekly), do the installation/exhibition legwork. Thus far they've booked shows of well-known local artists with proven commercial appeal, and Mutual Addiction continues that trend. If any show should prove to sell out in their online art storefront it's this seductively holiday-timed collection.
opening 7 p.m. Friday,
1221 N. Orange Ave.