Secularization of Hell: The Illusionists, Curated by Michael Pearce at Studio Channel Islands with TRAC2019

The illusionist exhibition at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, CA. April 6- May 21, 2019

Oh god, the exhibition is a living nightmare. I prefer the worst/best of postmodernism, at least Duchamp cleverly matched ends and means. But, with only a few exceptions, this show is about classical technique with creepy content. You can see the show online on critic Joseph Bravo’s Facebook page.

Sandra Yagi
Sandra Yagi, photo Studio Channel Islands

It would be horrific if we saw a woman opening her chest to let birds fly out or the dancing skeletons of a pair of baby conjoined twins! But the technique is so bland and plastic-like that it leaves us feeling nothing about Yagi’s subject matter.

One great painting from the show is “Dream of Art History” by F. Scott Hess. Fabulous composition, imaginative, and reflective in both subject, lighting, and color.

Dream of Art History by F. Scott Hess
Dream of Art History by F. Scott Hess, photo url reddit

A painting I dislike very much is this yellow one below. I thought sad clowns were dead and gone. Artistically I hate the flatness and the awkward composition. The poor plastic horse doesn’t have enough room to whinny, the hat “kisses” the edge killing the positive and negative space, and the cape intersects the bottom right corner in cringe-worthy tightness.

Dazzling Dark Horses by Pamela Wilson
Dazzling Dark Horses by Pamela Wilson photo from Bravo’s Facebook page, link above.

I am sorely disappointed in the curation of this show. It is not that I don’t like it, but the TRAC conferences are touted as the alternative to the postmodern cynicism. What is the point of trying to overthrow one bad aesthetic movement if you are going to replace it with another? The way to go from my perspective is to update the concept of the sublime and find artists, like Hess, that match exceptional technique with worthy themes.

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