In Darkness There Is Light

An artist exorcises his creative demons

Singh appears as the throttled lad squirming at the bottom of the picture, as what seems to be the artist's plucked-eyebrow-and-shaved-leg doppelgänger tops the figure in turmoil from above.

The succubus side of Singh's image is a phantom delicately cloaked in wiggling maggotlike curlicues and simmering with sexual energy. The erotic entity hypnotizes the viewer with batty-lashed, sable-hued eyes that reek of a Sidney Sheldon book jacket or as Tammy Faye Bakker masquerading as a Black Sabbath groupie.

In this slippery encounter the artist strikes one as psychologically masturbating in forbidden zones, issuing a challenge to others who fear treading in his boots. Surreal swirls of mood lighting magnify the piece's ominous quality.

Diego Singh's He Came Riding Fast as a Phoenix out of 
Five Flames, 2005
Diego Singh's He Came Riding Fast as a Phoenix out of Five Flames, 2005
Diego Singh's Let's Build a Fire, 2005
Diego Singh's Let's Build a Fire, 2005

"When reality fails to function, one must seek possibilities to exist in the other," Singh contends.

He shatters complacency with his provocative oil-on-linen epilogue Hey I'm one big queen. No one can stop me. Red light, red green. Sat Back, I'm watching, 2005. This eleven-foot by eight-foot painting metaphorically breaks the handcuffs that prohibit self-fulfillment and hints at a scandalous debutante party for the artist. The boisterous work seems to thrum with PJ Harvey's thunderous falsetto, telegraphing Singh's struggle to upend convention.

Consumed in an apocalyptic revelry, Singh's inner megaqueen appears livid with deep-bruise purple, rope-burn lavender, and gangrenous emerald tones. The artist's towering alter ego materializes veiled in a curdled milk splatter and is joined by an ashen, red-eyed, light-shunning owl roosting at the lower left. A grave-dust-furred jaguar, executed with a stiletto flick of the artist's wrist, perches on a limb toward the bottom right and seems to witness Singh's "I'll live as I wish" pact with his personal demons.

"I'm bringing you the bad news," Singh crows. "I'm her, the 50-foot-tall mistress of the universe, and I'm realer than real!"

Soaking up the artist's show, one feels on the verge of applauding his flair for disguises. This Halloween do yourself a favor: Hook up with a Jesuit and risk possession by Singh's liberating and joyfully wicked diversion.

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