This is very a strange exhibition. At first I was put off by the touchie-feely faux Pierre Alechinsky drawings–so many of them, too. My companion tells me that Jamie is based in Paris but comes from Los Angeles, which is a good clue given the huge cultural disparity betwixt the two locations. The wrestling video put me off: more men are bad, men are stupid etc. Misandristry, it’s like the layup rather than the three pointer. Men as a gender have been taking a beating for decades, and in general some of us deserve it, but short of Paul McCarthy I haven’t seen this much man-bashing in a while. And, too, the ethnocentricity of the work (forgive me for being so 90′s), I think it would be nice to leave Joseph Beuys and his crew forgotten for a time, leave the hares be and let the dead painters have their delusions.
It’s not to say that I didn’t find things in the exhibition that were entertaining and beautiful; it may just be I’m getting old and less hip. (Hey, I still think Mike Kelley is a young artist!) Besides who am I to question the wisdom of the cognoscenti who deem Mr. Jamie the flavor of the moment? I do like the Cave which has to be the creepiest sculpture I’ve ever experienced–the darkess and the texture of that plastic building material–ugh!–and those creepy bird pics. It’s that Gothic thing that Paris has in spades, all those spikey gargoyles and the whole sort of Baudelairian dankness. Icky, I felt great urgency to get out of that thing and back to the sweet comfort of the black guard who gave me the too-dim lantern in the first place. I wanted to warn some children but, hey, if mom and dad want them to experience something that weird, it’s none of my business. But I have to admire Jamie’s chutzpah to make such an unhappy sculpture. This is one of the cases where I really understand why I am so puzzled by sculpture. It’s good sick fun but is that all there is, mon ami?
The outsourced portraits, created at Jamie’s direction by street artists, of course, I found just sweet as rhubarb pie. And the Goth photos? I do my vacuuming with Marilyn Manson’s music. It’s a genre that’s hard to resist and you know you are listening to something that Dick Cheney thinks is sick. And that maybe the point is that sickness isn’t such an awful thing if it’s cultural rather than physical. The way Los Angeles hits people can be an indicator of an aesthetic proclivity. Many of my most favorite artist comrades are based in Los Angeles; as dystopias go, LA has everything one needs to create an otherness that is still home and horror both. Jamie brings together some very contradictory elements sometimes, as with the big film poster they really kick ass.
Other work: the Halloween photos are so abject that you want to run upstairs to the Arbus show to see what Halloween was really like! But Jamie’s young and when he’s on he’s really a pisser. A small group of photos (what we once called snapshots) of a Michael Jackson impersonator wrestling is a case in point. To me the piece was fabulous–beautiful color and some suspension of ego, like, yes, this is art and I get pleasure here. So what can I say? He’s the sum of his influences, and maybe he has a while to go before he outstrips those influences, but hey that’s just my opinion an artist who works a different beat, who just isn’t all that interested in culture that seems to be marginal by design. After all I have my own technicolor nightmares to contend with. Bon Apetit, it’s what we used to call an acquired taste only I think it’s more raw than cooked.