art review: You take it all too seriously

The Dorsch Gallery in Miami’s Design District is a cauldron of contemporary art in South Florida (currently running a new show of three artists) and advances curatorial perspective by redefining the mediums and subjects of 2-dimensional painting and drawing. The mostly tongue-in-cheek approaches of these artists, such as using advertising and BBQ rituals, provide a format for questions of relevance and sophistication.

Jordan Massengale entitled his new work Dumb Move as if to answer his formally figurative critics before they may even pounce on his step into more abstraction. His color fights with itself in a mirage of poetic mark-making that finds complexity as well as darkness in depth and magnetism such as in one of his larger works, “Coagulate.” Next to his massive canvases are a series of oil paintings all named “BBQ Remnant 1” as the main subject is the decapitated head of a pig lain out ceremoniously. His paintings call on the uncomfortable yearnings of the human experience (especially of people who have been victimized) in all of its ugly glory.

The element of grotesque here is utterly rendered as his caricatured characters explode from the canvas resplendently – whether it’s an emaciated body in Timberlands and a metal cavalier helmet (sans face with his leg cuffed to his bed post and his hand viciously nailed to the table) or a mercilessly bloated man lying on his (death)bed for a week, unseen by anyone.

On the other hand, Javier Sasieta shows sixteen monoprints rendered on dark urine yellow paper that take on a wraithlike quality thanks to the Arabic gum with which he manipulates each individual print. Disparos Repentinos (1-16) fades in and out of the figurative like the struggle to breathe when sinking under water. The prints calm with the same hand that they inspire nightmares. Eloquent and simple in form, while subtle and echoing in concept, this work reminds the viewer of his or her own sins and cries out against the sins of oppressors like a shaman conquering a curse.

Christopher Lynn encompasses the first space in the gallery with contemporary advertisements from magazines (such as big truck ads) turned (literally) onto their side, defaced with smooth and minimal paint. All of his works go untitled because there is enough happening within the concepts. On the low end, they could be called homework assignments for a 200-level 2D design class, but the power they exude comes from the artist’s marks of discipline and integrity. These are witty answers to the appropriation culture themes of contemporary art – perhaps a post-postmodern take on the ideas of Pop Art and graphic design, if you will.

As a whole, this trinity of artists here finds balance and the pieces complement each other, engaging an ongoing dialogue of the marriage of intellect and abstraction. Even more, subjective opinions aside, these works, as with any good art, uphold a roguish and playful commentary of the world seen through the artists’ eyes with whimsical zest that some people may not appreciate by, for instance, taking the grotesque too seriously. Open your eyes though. The dealers will talk and the gallery owners will brownnose, but this work will stand on its own as being worth the time.

This collective show is at the Dorsch Gallery, 151 NW 24th St., Miami, through October 4th. Call 305-576-1278 for more info.

Alex Saleeby can be reached at