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New work by Tara Sasiadek at Art Space

Tara Sasiadek paints 464 Gallery's Marcus Wise.

Coming Soon

Any art show I wake up thinking about at 4am must surely have aspects of consequence. (Musing over recent works by Tracy Emin and Cindy Sherman in placing their demurely posed nude art selves in the pages of Playboy called to mind Camilla Paglia’s editorial rant on the commodification of fine art.) But, as it was, I lay awake trying to find a generous approach to reviewing the exhibit Coming Soon, giving the artist, Tara Sasiadek, due consideration for her ambition in producing a coherent body of work while prompting viewers/readers to think about what the exhibition says about the state of much contemporary art.

Sasiadek presents a frantic barrage of images and mixed-media sculpture dealing with issues of gender stereotype through a series of largely monotonal portraits of men and boys in domestic settings against a background of bombastic word expulsions radiating in garish colors, creating a mood of faux Grand Guignol street art. Her artist’s statement, concerned with the liberating influences of her parents in an environment of gender-free presumption, proclaims an “R”-rated line in a movie starring a sociopathic Nicolas Cage opened her eyes and ears to the idea that gender roles are still art fodder for an extended comment on the dude/dudess dichotomy.

Of course traditional archetypal roles of men and women engender much emotion typical of human experiences and accompanying images that touch one deeply. Compelling examples may be found in the guise of fairy-tales, fables, and legends surviving from earliest times, as anima, (female) and animus (man) child, trickster, and self. These Jungian constructs may help to define a multitude of overlapping gender strata that Sasiadek is interested in getting at in her pictographic exploration of sexism as a worldview—sexism as an unconscious, hidden, yet ever present part of the ongoing conversation about the natures of men and women, inculcating for women daily messages about inferiority. Sasiadek is out to, as she states, “blow up” these perniciously prescribed gender roles.

Her summary execution, however, undermines the impact of her thesis, choosing a medium—grisaille portrait painting worked in thinly brushed figures set against emanating vectors of raw red and yellow with titles such as I Am Become Cute, Destroyer of Worlds”—suggesting a blasé attitude toward engaging issues beyond the ironic cant of social media, though Shop Till Your Panties Drop appears to build on the psychosexual urge to fill a void (that rampant commodification again) of an affluent suburbanite. Dishes Are Clean, Motherfuckers seems to further highlight recent political broadsides by the actor Samuel Jackson rallying online support for engagement where motherfuckers are concerned. These titles create a distinct disjuncture with the images portrayed, further feeding the idea of an art of posturing, cynically nihilistic and estranged from any sense of spirituality.

The exhibition continues with displays of disembodied sculpted individual hands, open and palm up, molded in acrylic glazed resin, holding cards printed with vernacular words and phrases such as seen in cartoons and comic books and heard aloud in TV advertising spots. Along one wall is a long, brightly painted swath of canvas reiterating the leitmotif of exuberant release—“kaBoom”—capping the show’s title, Coming Soon, with an intimation of ejaculatory resolution. The logo-like signature “T-Sas” seems especially apt as an expression of the artist’s attitude.

The First Friday opening in the Art Space gallery was especially well attended. Guestbook remarks speak to the clearly positive response Sasiadek’s work received. The exhibition continues through January 26.

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