The best group shows are not explicitly themed, but merely by juxtaposing the work of two or more artists, expose a parallel or create something new from the dialogue between works. Superimpose, opening Friday at Twelve21 Gallery, gathers work by three artists that explores the notion of juxtaposition itself.
Seattle's Weston Jandacka, Gainesville's Victor Perez and Orlando's Brian Phillips all show paintings in a fairly traditional figurative style, though poppy and graphic. The conceptual work takes place in your head, as you make the connection between disparate items or apprehend the ironic gap between image and title.
Perez's superflat acrylics smash together conflicting elements with a jokey force – a long skinny red balloon twisted through the empty eye sockets of a skull, a condom skinned down over a cactus. In the better pieces, the contradiction isn't just a visual pun, but also a pithy expression of emotion – a painting titled "Conquest" (right), an astronaut whose helmet is being stove in by the leg of an ornate red couch, is as potent an illustration of the fear that domesticity will strangle one's freedom as I've seen in a while.
Phillips' small oils also survey the intersection between domesticity and disturbance, perhaps somewhat more literally, in images of burning houses ("Under the Illusion of Exploration Learning What Should Simply Be Recognized," below) and a series of fiery-haloed eclipses.
Jandacka uses a masking technique to transpose cutout lettering over his landscape, superimposing the commentary over the very image – or forcing his imagery into the mold of his sardonic titles: "It's to Die For" (oil on wood) subverts the implied fabulosity of that phrase with the blunt force of a firing gun.
It's not all death and destruction, though; even the darkest ironies and most bitter puns show a lightness – a grin at the abyss rather than a falling tear. Superimpose, while not exactly lighthearted, is a fun show, a blithe, zero-fucks-given shrug at the doomsayers.
opens 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1
1221 N. Orange Ave.