[Monstrosity Art Gallery, September 7th]
This isn’t the Monstrosity Gallery I remembered from before. The bright lights and breezy bluegrass music has been replaced by a sensual, low-light ambiance, flickering candles, and a DJ playing classic trip-hop. I feel as if I’ve stepped into an opium den, and at the stairs I’m greeted by Bacchus wearing a garland crown and holding a bottle of wine. Annie greets me and urges me to head over to the sangria bar, where two transparent coolers are filled with red and white sangria, and bowls overflow with strawberries and orange slices. I fill my glass, as erotic art is always best paired with liberal amounts of wine, and head toward the center of the gallery.
Tonight’s offerings are sensuous, dark, and fully exposed. The artists’ work is no longer segregated by wall, collating bright, color streaked nudes from Lauren Suzanne with Andrew’s grotesque, half-corpse half-sexed naked psychological portraits.
Justine Beech, one of my favorites from last month’s art event, is back with several pieces. She sits with me on the couch for a while as we drink sangria and the crowd begins to filter in. Her offerings tonight work in storms. “Hurricane Autumn” features a knock-kneed, vicious looking sprite wearing nothing but a bustier, string bikini, and yellow rain boots. She stands in a puddle of water, umbrella and lantern in her hand. “Miss Early Spring” is a riot girl turned siren, wearing mary jane heels on a rock in the middle of a stormy sea.
“I painted those just this week,” she told me, “felt like I should bring something new here, even if it didn’t fit the theme. To continue to focus on my own style and growth.”
Lauren Suzanne, dark haired and smiling, introduces me to her chakra series. Each painting in the series features a nude filtered in color. The series chronicles her personal growth through all seven chakras, from root to crown. The first chakra is the red root, which represents foundation and balance. Finding your balance leads to the orange lower abdomen chakra, which is about learning to connect with others and exploring sexuality.
“My favorite painting is the third chakra. That’s the solar plexus, and it represents personal power.”
The woman that represents the third chakra is full of energy, tinted in yellow, her arms and legs broad brushstrokes, ready to pull the universe down.
Deborah Argyrpoulos paints in oil, mixing bright colors and bold figures with contemporary realism to dramatic effect. I’m particularly fond of “Cerulean Nude,” a crouching, blue woman with her face obscured as she looks toward the floor. Argyrpoulos highlights every detail in the figure, including light and texture, making the woman in oil pop.
On the far wall of the room hangs Brooke Gassiot’s series of plates, nude masturbating women in pastels and inked blues. Definitely something for your next high society dinner party.
Portishead’s classic “Only You,” begins playing from the speakers. People are beginning to congregate at the overflowing chocolate fountain, the platters nearby laden with strawberries and crackers. I run into a friend who I met at the last Monstrosity Gallery event, a guy named Evron who lives in the room downstairs. He finds me contemplating a picture of a grotesque, rot-colored woman who appears to be between death and ecstasy.
“Oh, Andrew painted that,” he said, “do you want to meet him?”
I find Evron leading me down the stairs of the Monstrosity Gallery, out into the dark. We round the driveway to a nearby house. Evron climbs up onto the dusty porch and starts banging on the windows.
“Andrew!” he yells, “Andrew! Wake up! Someone wants to talk to you.”
“He’s probably sleeping.”
“Yeah, but he needs to get up. He has deep, dark psychological issues. Also incredibly charismatic. You’ll like him.”
Unlike many of the artists, who explored sexuality as powerful and beautiful, Andrew Scaturo pushes his artwork to the edge of disgust. His paintings are designed to elicit an emotional reaction, and seeing his artwork is like viewing the dark-painted inner works of the average and troubled human mind. My personal favorite was “Red Sky,” a small painting of a dark and pantless girl isolated against a dark, reddened landscape, a tree in the background fading away like a skeletal ghost.
I never get to meet Andrew, but I’m sure I’ll have many other opportunities. The Monstrosity Gallery is constantly shape shifting, as if it’s walls breathe and rearrange themselves. I’ll be back soon.