Baby-faced Anthony Goicolea is best known for creating unnerving digitally altered photographic self-portraits in which he appears as a frolicking troupe of incestuous adolescent clones engaged in sordid homoerotic shenanigans.
The New York-based Cuban-American's flawlessly staged narcissistic fantasies smack of a genetic engineering experiment at an elite boarding academy gone awry. They teeter wickedly from ribald horror to campy hilarity.
His technically masterful large-format photographs exude an operatic grandeur and portray the cherubic Goicolea in lurid acts of saccharine-lacquered mayhem.
Multiple versions of the thirtysomething artist, appearing half his age, typically confront the spectator in dystopian scenes of psychosexual high jinks. They're so provocative that one is tempted to wash out the eyes with bleach and is left wondering if the artist might be Cindy Sherman's depraved bastard son.
Morbid circle jerks, pee parties, blood-sodden sadomasochistic roughhousing, pyromania, cannibalism, and animal torture are themes Goicolea commonly mines. They result in scenarios that could have been hatched by Wes Craven, John Waters, and Larry Clark while kvetching over a keg of wormwood juice and comparing bodily fluids.
Astonishingly the work, which can read like the masturbatory fuel of a deranged chickenhawk, is immensely popular with the culturati, who have gone gaga over Goicolea and apparently can't gobble up enough of the vainglorious wanker's stuff.
In his current show, "Permafrost," at Luis Adelantado Miami, the artist veers away from his eerie, shock-schlock photo vignettes and presents a monumental painting and sweeping video piece with panoramic views of starkly beautiful yet inhospitable natural scenes a dark winter's tale.
Entering the space, one is confronted by Milky Way, an epic fifteen-by-eight-foot acrylic-on-wood painting. It features fifteen androgynous, sapphire-eyed waifs Goicolea in the guise of a brood of hell-raising mountain climbers seemingly stranded on a desolate snow-peaked alpine range. In the lower half of the composition, the wan lads recline on mattresses, comforters, and sleeping bags, pondering their fate.
Some huddle together for warmth, some sleep as if lulled by dreams of a peaceful winter wonderland on which they plan to wreak havoc, and others are off alone staring at the vast nocturnal sky.
The piece shares an uncanny sensibility with the paintings of local Hernan Bas though Goicolea paints on a grander scale. The artist, who has covered the top two-thirds of the picture plane in light-reflecting coats of tarry black paint and littered the abysmal void with lavish glittering rhinestone constellations, heightens the illusion that the group is lost at the end of the world.
The icy despair is captured in the lower foreground by a boy whose feet are heavily bandaged with cloth and bound by rope suggesting frostbite. The whistling sound of freezing winds emanating from another room seems to herald their doom. The scene is reminiscent of the 1993 movie Alive, which depicts the true-life drama of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972, forcing them to strip dead buddies of flesh to survive.
A sense that the end may await is conveyed by a lack of food sources and animal life in the picture.
Next, one follows the sound of a lashing Arctic blizzard booming into the main gallery. There Snowscape, a two-channel video installation, evokes a hauntingly bleak permafrosted netherworld. The video imagery stems from still photographs of winter landscapes that the artist shot and then manipulated digitally to create a seamless work that engulfs the spectator in scenes of snow-blanketed plains, craggy frozen terrain, glacial caves, and tundra.
Projected onto towering twin walls and imploding into each other, the images convey a sense that the viewer is hurtling through space at break-neck speed. The snippets of animal skins, urine-stained snowbanks, clotheslines, and other signs of human habitation in the dismayingly depopulated scenery are unsettling.
The gloom is ratcheted up by the hypnotic crescendo of howling wind and what sounds like crashing cymbals as the video screeches to an end in a blinding snowstorm that swallows the viewer in a sensory avalanche.
The combined effect of the painting, video, and accompanying soundtrack transports the viewer into a menacing wilderness that seems spawned from the grimmest of fairy tales. The artist succeeds cleverly in conjuring a frozen purgatory.
Some might find Goicolea's misty-gazed band of youthful adventurers heroic in scope, and detect a cheerful wanderlust coloring their exploits. But considering their uncertain plight, one is left relieved that the call of the wild in Miami means chilling in a bathing suit and sipping a frosty beer on the beach in December.
The artist's daring willingness to strut confidently across inventive terrain away from the photographic work that set his stock soaring leaves a lasting impression.
Adelantado's impressive program and pristine, capacious new digs mark a sterling addition to the scene, and the dealer proves himself a savvy business dude. Most of the titillating stash of Goicolea's naughty self-portraits exhibited discreetly in a back room sold out before the show opened.
Over at Rocket Projects, Ali Prosch makes a jaw-dropping statement with "A Day and Forever," a multimedia exhibition sprinkled in witty doses of flair and drama that portrays the lifestyles of the young and fabulously dissolute. Prosch traffics in hyperbeautiful imagery, at times evocatively laced with autobiographical commentary. In the role of social diarist, she seems to blithely chop Miami's decadent run-amok egos at the knees in a series of photographs, videos, and drawings that are a revelation.
An arresting color video titled Glitter Butt is a savory opus in which a young nymph's unblemished derriere flexes spectacularly across a flat-screen TV and appears ripe for a Howard Stern probing.
As one sidles up, it becomes apparent that the woman has packed her tailpipe with a spoonful of silvery glitter, which she farts demurely startling the unsuspecting spectator with a subtle report, achieving somewhat of a fizzling Roman candle effect.
Nightshade, a series of medium-size cibachrome photos, is a commentary on posh parties and runaway indulgence that delivers a visceral uppercut.
In one piece, Ali's Drink, a group of insouciant riffraff sits at a dimly lit dinner table tricked out with silver candlesticks and fancy china, sipping Chablis from cut crystal goblets. In the background, the artist-cum-hostess, decked out in a virginal white spaghetti-strap evening gown, swills from an expensive decanter.
Este's Dead, another shot from the series, has the taste of the Jonestown mass suicide and features some gaudy revelers sprawled across overturned chairs and others with torpid mugs plastered atop a bar.
Nearby, in the middle of the gallery space, hangs a giant chandelier dripping in sable, amber, and crimson beads. Petula Clark warbles, "Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares," over the loudspeaker, contributing to the sense that one's a fly on the wall at an A-list soiree.
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In Waiting for You, a large video projection, the larger-than-life artist is captured from the waist down grinding her pelvis in a snazzy gold lamé dress. As she giddily peels off her clothing, it becomes evident that going "downtown" is Prosch's metaphor for losing oneself from life's nagging vagaries in a torrid embrace.
In the project room, Forever, a video diptych, features twin closeups of Prosch's scarlet-slashed gob opening and closing like a manic hen's egg pouch.
On one screen a white rose buds forth from her puckered lips and blossoms. On the other she mumbles as if her mouth were full of marbles and then delicately coughs up a sprig of baby's breath. Dozens of ostentatious floral bouquets, reminiscent of a gangster's funeral, are arranged in a rotting heap below.
For anyone who has suffered rejection at the velvet rope or gotten the cold shoulder from the snooty demimonde, this show delivers a knockout a fist-pumping money shot that cuts those sybaritic slackers down to size and smartly anoints Prosch as an audacious talent.