What's artist Nicolas Lobo's beef with high-pitched forest animals and cough syrup? It turns out that he has a rather keen interest in the subcultural oddity Alvin and the Chipmunks as well as financial theory, algorithms, and what looks and smells like grape-flavored Robitussin.
Lobo has an exhibit ("Limestoned") up at Charest-Weinberg Gallery in Wynwood (helmed by the ever-entertaining, afro-ed French-Canadian gallerist Eric Charest-Weinberg). In it, the Los Angeles-born, Miami-based artist strews a folded, stainless steel sheet with punched-out numbers alongside an arched, formica strip. The sculpture is anchored with granite blocks and topped with three multi-colored limestones on the gallery floor. On the walls, minimally framed, pulsating drawings hang in a series offset by a colorful, geometric patchwork-like image. Tough to visualize? Read on for images and our review.
Using these works as visual triggers, Lobo investigates the systems and
theories of how we brand and market our culture. Whether we're aware of
it or not, culture is not an esoteric umbrella that governs our
pursuits. More to the point, we manufacture our culture in hopes that
demand exceeds supply. The musical and TV mini-phenomenon Alvin and the
Chipmunks is, for Lobo, an auditory overdose of American culture.
His piece Screwed Up Alvin and the Chipmunks seems determined to reverse the
excess: The cough syrup-soaked stones (which are meant to physically
resemble the creatures themselves) is a reference to DJ Screw who, in
the 1980s, slowed his tracks down to sound like a gooey, audio elixir.
Another piece Straightened Record is metallic origami, pierced with a thin rod with a 1-800 number punched out of its face. Ethnographic Sound Blanket is a mosaic of cell phone images with a tribal decorative overlay. All of these conspire to remind us of the constant creation of micro-economies, micro-managed and micro-scrutinzed to fit the public's varying tastes. Lobo succeeds in warping these concerns into a tripped-out aesthetic, but can you actually enjoy it?
If nothing else, "Limestoned" offers the classic escape from the ordinary by illuminating the ordinary measures of record executives, amateur financial theorists (AKA bankers, consultants, and speculators), and entrepreneurs to ensnare its consumers. A word of caution: chugging NyQuil before viewing this exhibition may result in an experience similar to the Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd's soundtrack: appropriate, but just plain weird.
"Nicolas Lobo: Limestoned" is on view at the Charest-Weinberg Gallery (250 NW 23rd St., Miami) in the Wynwood Arts Complex until February 27th, 2011. Gallery hours are Tuesday thru Saturday, 11a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment. Call 305-292-0411 or visit charestweinberg.com.