Friday, December 4, 2009
A few weeks back I attended the closing reception for the final show at moxie's North Side venue. The gallery is going virtual, so the last night of its wittily themed Dia de los Muertos show was the last chance (for now) to see it in any sort of physical incarnation.
Going back to its first location, in a Bloomfield storefront, moxie's typically done good work, and Muertos was no exception, featuring art by such local stalwarts as Kyle Ethan Fischer. But I was especially struck by the paintings of Michael Koehler, another young Pittsburgh-based artist.
Here's one that was on display, titled "Almost." The human figure with the robot head is featured in a couple of Koehler's paintings at moxie, and in fact the image recurs in his work.
I like the combination of his subtle palette and the surrealistically devastated, post-apocalyptic landscapes he uses it to render.
What's most intriguing about "Almost," though, is the ambivalence of the imagery. Obviously, there's a lot of tension in the frame; those rainbow-like arches are igniting the robot-man into flames, after all (and the figure is lashed to the ground).
But the "rainbows" probably aren't -- they're a sort of grayish green, with a texture closer to stone than to light. And look at the robot-man: His body is clearly human, while the head suggests a decorated box a kid might don to play a Halloween robot.
Yet the way the head and body are joined, it looks like one being, not an entity that could simply remove its mask and go back to "normal."
Perhaps in reaching for the dandelion, robot-man is trying to transcend his nature. To be reborn? Of course that's what moxie's show was all about. But with Koehler's paintings, it's just as rewarding to be unsure.