Preview: October’s “The Macabre Show” at La Luz Highlights Grotesque Beauty

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The word grotesque comes from the same Greek root as “grotto,” meaning a hidden place. It was in grottoes, either natural or man-made caves, on their sprawling estates where nobility would have artists create strange, fantasy-driven works of art to surprise, delight and disturb. By the 18th Century, the word’s usage, whether in English, French or German, had come to mean ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting. Works termed “grotesque” –whether in art, literature or performance–deal with concepts of doubleness, hybridity and metamorphosis, invoking contrasting sensation of revulsion and empathy. Using those oppositional sensations, grotesque art takes us to a hidden place within ourselves, a place that can be accessed in the new show at La Luz de Jesus.

On Friday La Luz de Jesus opens the “The Macabre Show,” featuring new works by  Steven Daily, Myron Conan DyalCraig LaRotonda, Scott Holloway, Mavis Leahy, Miso,Gail Potocki, and Jasmine Worth, where the grotesque becomes the macabre. Daily’s Old Masters/classical painting style captures skulls, lost souls, and demon kings.  Dyal’s challenging sculptures, visions borne out his epileptic seizures, were just shown at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art where he drew rave reviews, including a comparison to Richard Serra.

In his “Rise of the Robosapiens” LaRotonda–whose art work has appeared in film and television, as well Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and numerous other publications–paints subjects are solemnly metamorphosing from human to mechanized beings. Doubleness and dichotomy form the inspiration for Scott Holloway in his new series “Janus,” drawing and painting of skulls with gold leaf which evoke both classical medical drawing and religious icons.

Miso, who sold out her last show at La Luz, presents “Birth,” a new micro-portraiture series in ornate frames focusing on fetal and newborn mutations, while Leahy, a Los Angeles native showing for the first time at La Luz, creates hybrid memento moris from china doll parts, skulls, and antique fabrics in her rest in “Peaceful Slumber” series. One of the premier Symbolist painters Gail Potocki brings a new work on linen in ornate frames to La Luz with her triptych “Unkept and Whispered,” while four of her works from previous shows hanging in the gallery’s Art Hallway are also for sale.

Worth is the hot property in this show, with all but one piece from her new “Dark Mother” collection sold at press time.  “Dark Mother” explores the religious belief that casts woman as both the originator of sin and the Mother of God. While Worth uses Christian symbolism as a starrting point, she incorporates  elements of Paganism to resolve the dichotomy of the divine.

La Luz de Jesus’ “The Macabre Show,” which showcases both emerging and established Symbolist and Contemporary Surrealist artists, is a must see. (Oh heck, for me it was a must-purchase: I couldn’t resist one of Leahy’s creations!) The images–disturbing, seductive, at times repulsive, yet always compelling–evoke the surprise, wonder, disgust and empathy of classically grotesque art and provide the perfect welcome to the chthonic revels of the All Hallows season.

CARTWHEEL will be bringing you full coverage of the opening.

(Top image: Scott Holloway, Oroboros)

The Macabre Show
October 5-28
Opening Reception: Friday, October 5th; 8-11 PM
La Luz de Jesus
4633 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Open Monday-Wednesday 11am-7pm; Thursday-Saturday 11am-9pm; Sunday noon-6pm

Steven Daily, Watcher


Myron Conan Dyal, Cycle of Life (triptych, detail)

Craig LaRotonda, The Evocator

Mavis Leahy, Delilah

Miso, Infant with Ectrodactyly

Gail Potocki, Unkept and Whispered

Jasmine Worth, Patron Saint of Freaks

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