On the heels of his magnificent solo show at Seattle‘s Roq La Rue Gallery, which ended it’s run earlier this month (covered by us HERE), the incomparable master painter of photo-realistic Victorian oddities, Travis Louie, has guest curated one of the most consistent group art exhibits that we’ve seen in years. Opening tomorrow night (May 25th), ZOMBIE will run over the next month at the Last Rites Gallery, New York City‘s premiere venue for the “Dark Art movement,” and showcase over 50 individual artists interpreting the word “ZOMBIE” through more than 60 different works, ranging in medium from oils and charcoal to mixed media and sculpture.
Known for the meticulous detail in his own work, Louie has proven that he takes his curatorial duties just as seriously, assembling a rock solid group, which has yielded an equally impressive output. Among them are recognizable names like Charlie Immer and Bob Dob, but this isn’t simply a list of the usual subjects; more than just the names that you do know, you’ll discover a list of artists that you definitely should know. With someone of Travis‘ credibility and reach, it would have been just as easy for him to phone it in, recruiting a bunch of highly talented big name artists that would ultimately produce some great work, but weren’t necessarily perfect for this exhibit. Instead, there was clearly a great deal of thought behind who was included, resulting in some remarkable skill being represented. It’s no surprise to find a contribution from Last Rites favorite, Chet Zar–known for his brilliantly dark oil paintings and work (makeup, design, special effects, sculpture, 3D animation, etc) for such films as Hellboy 1 & 2, The Ring, Men in Black II, and Darkman; and music videos for TOOL–but one might be surprised by the absence of such artists as Alex Pardee and Skinner (neither of which are included), who are also well known for their horror and gore-centric aesthetics. Venturing slightly outside of the box and not restricting himself to fine art’s typical established parameters, Louie opted to welcome in a couple of other makeup and special-effects artists from the film world, like Robert Kato DeStefan (Batman Returns, Watchmen, Tron Legacy) and Face Off – Season 4 champion, J Anthony Kosar, as contributors. Kosar even offered up his award-winning makeup-effects services, specifically, to one particularly elaborate piece contributed by horror photographer Joshua Hoffine (the creation of the image was so involved that it actually required a kickstarter campaign of it’s own just to fund it). But, aside from everything else that’s impressed me so much about this show is the amount of contributions that have been included from females; about a-dozen-and-a-half incredibly talented women are taking part in this show–something that we’d definitely like to continue seeing more of.
Here is a list of contributing artists:
It’s interesting to consider how most, if not all, cultures seem to contain legends of “monsters” woven into their histories and, even more specifically, how so many involve some version of the zombie–the Tibetans fear ro-langs; the Chinese have the more vampiric Jiangshi, stiff, hopping corpses that feed on chi; the Norse mythology warns of draugrs, etc. As with Jekyl and Hyde, the werewolf always seemed to represent some form of primal nature being suppressed in man, inevitably fighting its way to the surface in a modern, “civilized” society that has worked so hard to tame, if not eliminate, those inherent aspects within ourselves. To me, vampires seem to mirror the idea of those who derive their energy–or, “life force”–by draining it from the rest of us, often leaving us disgruntled and willing to lash out and bite the neck of someone else, in a failed attempt to gain our equilibrium back. Likewise, zombies can be interpreted as a reflection of the braindead, soul draining, mundane figures and aspects of life that have the potential to suck us in, infect us, and turn us into mind-numbing creatures of our own. But that’s just it, they could be interpreted in so many ways. Maybe the undead is just a reflection of our own confusion and uncertainty with mortality and the afterlife. But, whether you’re some delusional wingnut expecting to see an actual half-woman/half-fish on Animal Planet‘s fictional (I repeat, “fictional”) mermaid special, someone that views them as metaphorical representations of human nature, or someone that’s analyzing them in the respect to the historical context in which they first originated, the interpretations of these legends are the most intriguing and, for the most part, the most tangible aspects that exist of them.
For this group show, the various interpretations are equally as fascinating. One artist might take this opportunity to make a social commentary on our increased technological dependance on newfangled gadgetry (Ben Walker), or opt for a tongue-in-cheek reference to the resurrection of Jesus (Stefano Alcantara), but even when tackling a more classic rendering of a cannibalistic re-animated corpse, the range in their aesthetic interpretations provides an undeniable depth to this exhibit. I’ve seen the whole collection already, and there are, surprisingly, no weak spots.
Last Rites is an amazing gallery that has a history of showcasing some amazing talent. Unfortunately, I have a history of regularly stumbling across their exhibits after they’re already fairly deep into their runs. That’s why we’re particularly excited to be able to preview this one now–you know, before it happens. Rather than simply sending over a zip file of selected images, as is often the case, the gallery was generous enough to allow us to scan through all of the art beforehand and personally select which pieces we wanted to present to you in our preview. It was a difficult decision, but hopefully there’s enough variety to provide a decent representation of what to expect. This is guaranteed to be a good one.
Check out a selection of preview images below the following event details…
via press release
When most of us hear the mention of the word “zombie”, it brings up images from George Romero’s “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD” movies, the AMC television series, “THE WALKING DEAD”, and both Max Brooks’, “Zombie Survival Guide” and “World War Z”. Contemporary society has become obsessed with this dead, cannibalistic phenomenon. Yet the earliest appearances of zombies date back to African and Caribbean religious mythologies. Some argue even earlier manifestations can be found in the “Epic of Gilgamesh” and “New Testament Book of Daniel”. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, that zombies first made their debut in American popular culture. From then onward, the horror paradigm evolved from bewitched, voodooed creatures, to the decaying undead with a taste for human flesh.
In the past few years, the images of the walking dead have appeared in numerous ad campaigns, countless video games, and organized “zombie walks” across the USA. It seems everywhere we look, people have “zombie” on the brain. With this art show, we asked 50 artists to interpret the word “zombie”. What is it about living dead that intrigues us? Is it the idea that they were once like us? Are the masses really consumer “zombies” programmed to receive and carry out the demands of commerce, by going out and shopping for the latest things they’ve been convinced that they need? Or is the zombie sensation just another popular culture craze? Get your zombie on with us this summer.
ZOMBIE: 50 Artists Interpret the Word “Zombie”
Guest Curated by Travis Louie
Saturday, May 25th
7pm – 11pm
May 25th – June 26th
Last Rites Gallery
511 W 33rd St
New York, NY 10001
Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Artists will be in attendance
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/457903320963687/
[click images to enlarge]
Acrylic on panel
20 x 16 inches
oil on panel in antique frame with convex glass
9 X 15 inches
“Is there anybody there?”
Pencil on 310gr Arches paper
16 x 22 inches
“Idol of the Bokor”
oil on panel
13w x 18.5h inches
Charcoal & Pastel on tinted Strathmore
8 x 10 inches
Cast Resin with Faux Bronze Finish
36 wide x 27 high x 5 deep inches
“Easter in Stuttgart 1957”
Oil on board
11 x 14inches
Archival print on poly fiber paper
40 inches wide
Edition of 3
“The Walken Dead”
cast in silicone with hand punched hair
18 x 10 x 8 inches
“There Are Three Types of Zombie Root”
graphite and acrylic wash
8 x 10 inches
“Zombie Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
oil on canvas
12 x 16 inches
mixed media and collage on panel
16 x 12 inches