“Exorcism: New Drawings and Paintings by Erik Foss” currently on view at Paul Loya Gallery, has nothing to do with a crucifix wielder, battling the head spinning, demonically inhabited. Foss’s latest outing is in fact, a revealingly intimate presentation. One seeped within evocative undertones of poetic subtlety. “Exorcism,” is an amalgamation of confident artistic applications and products of physical processes. A cheery color palette, gives way to gray webbings and Rorschach looking skulls (each more delicate than the next)- the psyche exposed through a journey of many methods. This is not easy to come by, however, one must look closely to glean such an approach- as the devil is in the details, if you will.
Placed throughout “Exorcism,” are seemingly sterile computerized helixes that intertwine in and out of floral nettings, resulting in delicate variations of each other. “Snow White (2013),” “Halloween (2013),” and “She Wore a Mask in that One (2013),” each black, white and grey scale in tone, morph as the viewer zeros in. Up close, the shapes are revealed as women’s fishnets and lacey underthings. The intricacies of these canvases are not immediately registered. Depending on angle and base color of the canvas, perception of each work is altered. In, “Snow White,” the creamy white ground of this canvas, is first to betray its subject matter as women’s intimates. On the other hand, the black based canvases (“Halloween” and “She Wore a Mask in that One”), elongates the netting to become whispery smoke (maybe you can see the faces too?), covert in its contents. Most importantly, “Snow White (2013),” “Halloween (2013),” and “She Wore a Mask in that One (2013),” exudes a subtle sexualized energy. The erotica that permeates within these nettings is underplayed to an extent where the eye analyzes the slick control of the spray can, before the symbolism of the contents is arrived at.
Physicality also plays a major role in Foss’ “Exorcism.” Process supersedes content within several studies- each, remaining compellingly vivid. “Honeymoons Over, (2013),” for example, is a massive work (over 7’x5’) of gracefully swirling acrylics. Created by throwing dildos at the canvas, aim and gravitational pull appears to be centrally centered on a downward falling trajectory. The title and by chance splatters, alludes to a domestic dispute during dinnertime (spaghetti, aim, fire). The interaction of paints, are interesting on its own- the approach adds to its mystique. This ritualistic creative process is also mirrored in, “Tattoos are Stoopid, 2013.” Atop a raw, untreated canvas are hundreds of maniacal smiley faces, burned into the surface with Bic lighters. Various degrees and pressure applied forms an unpredictable pattern of masochistic leanings and its deceptively simple aesthetic. “Tattoos are Stoopid,” could be a manifestation of a drunken dare or a tongue in cheek allusion to Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang?
For “Exorcism’s” pièce de résistance, Foss delivers a balance of commanding conceptual approach and serendipitous physical outcome. In “I Did More Drugs Than You, (2013),” wads of toilet paper in varying colors, are hurled heaven ward to a canvas affixed to the roof. The result is an electric hued, collision of controlled chaos. Behemoth stature (10’ x 9’ total) can hardly corral these explosive crustaceans. Piled upon each other, these paint bombs of sorts, detonate into synthetic stalactites. Indeed, memories of this act of middle school vandalism (or discovery in science?) are enhanced by the psychedelic nature of the hyper neon color choices.
Erik Foss’s “Exorcism” invite appropriates the movie poster of the 1971 classic, of similar name. A solitary figure, surrounded by darkness in a cold and damp street, purple letters hover above- but look closer and notice the streaming glow fixed on this shadowy man. Perhaps, Erik Foss, the protagonist of this show, is more that lone individual than initially considered? Could “Exorcism” be a manifestation of excommunicated memories? Wherever the truth lies, the stream of light visible throughout is the progressive growth Foss commands. “Exorcism,” combines the capabilities Foss has frequently shown with refreshed elusive energy that, at times, nearly jumps out of its canvas constraints.
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-Contributed by Bianca Guillen