Maccarone, Los Angeles
The Other and Otherwise
January 26 - March 2, 2019
300 South Mission Road, Los Angeles
By Katelynn Mills February, 2019
We make “Others” of others, otherwise it’s too weird for most people. They graze, reproduce, exchange moo’s, whatever. It’s ironic knowing they think so little of people like us when I see them as philistine cows. Maybe it makes sense. Cows probably don’t inherently think much of humans. What I’m getting at is the everyday condition of being a creative adult among a throng of normies in sunny Southern California. There’s a legacy of underlying abject darkness pertaining to the situation; a theme thoroughly explored by artists such as Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley that doesn’t go unnoticed. It has to to with the domineering, right wing, “family” oriented influence coming from San Diego and Orange County. It’s emphasized by the sparseness of architecture and the desert climate (seriously, don’t forget your water and sunscreen on a gallery-hopping day). For sensitive folk, like yours truly, existence in such a place can convince the effect of being on a low to moderate dose of psychedelics most of the time. You know, that sensation of swimming around in a brightly colored fish tank, the world outside magnified, off kilter, and always observing. And the event of walking into a Trulee Hall exhibition, particularly “The Other and Otherwise” held at Maccarone Los Angeles through March 2nd, is the condition externalized and further transformed into something much sweeter than what our more traditional SoCal abject/ absurdist artists have left and leave us with.
Hall, who is frequently described as an absurdist, transcends (or even contradicts) the categorization by normalizing the subject matter in her work. Strolling through this exhibition, words like: anus, perverse, deranged, and creep come to mind. But they are merely subcategories to adjectives like: cute, sweet, endearing, and cheerful. This is made apparent in a variety of pieces. Considering Water Dance for the Country Queen (Video, single-channel, dimensions variable, edition of 5), it’s as though the viewer is observing the unmitigated dream desire of a grandmotherly woman in her throne. The other characters: average-bodied, middle-aged dancing women as well as young, strapping shirtless lads, give one an Oedipal impression — but one that is harmless, earthy and devoid of self-criticism. The color and choreography tell us it’s coming from the mind of a person who collected Lisa Frank stickers as a child and watched Harmony Korine movies as a young adult — 90s Pop and dark revelry exhumed and transformed into another creature entirely. The other videos in the show, particularly the claymation, reinforce this feeling even when singularly considering the medium. It’s curious how Trulee Hall can turn taboo so charming.
The paintings in this exhibition branch off into a slightly different set of concerns to explore a sort of dichotomy between various conditions. In this case, Hall isn't simply pairing something with its opposite — she is showing us that the distinction between any two opposing ideas is a matter of articulation. In Horny Ladies (Team Effort), (acrylic, oil, and collage on reclaimed, movie set backdrop, 74.5 x 90”), four loosely rendered, curvy female figures are grouped standing together. Their bodies are comprised of fluid contours and filled with collaged patches of blues and nudes. They’ve been endowed with erect, photorealistic penises and their faces have been realized to some level between their abstract bodies and realist dicks. Stylistically, perhaps this is saying the dicks have more impact or emphasis than their chicks — it’s as though every element in the painting is essential in supporting the visual weight of those cocks. There is a strong sense of balance in the composition. What’s more is that the figures’ self-contained hermaphrodism is emphasized by gaping mouths one would see on a blow-up sex doll. Their yaps are clearly the answer to their own respective erections. It’s a funky uroborus in every which way.
One particularly interesting feature in this exhibition is the video, Pink Lattice Room Relations (video, single-channel, dimensions variable, edition 3 of 5) along with a painting based on/ titled after a still from it , (oil, acrylic, collage, and gold leaf on, board, 45.5 x 54.5”) (or vice versa?). Often with video, artists will supplement an exhibition with printed frames and artifacts from the shoot. It’s strange to see this — and it speaks to the artists dexterity in moving from moving from one medium to the next. The concerns of painting are different than those of video art. And even though the same imagery is approached, it is done so by someone with an apparently sophisticated, adaptable sexual persona. The paintings take on shape verses volume, how they relate and separate, and how this says something about our interpersonal experiences. The videos are more about a continuum of interpersonal relations; how they break down and reanimate.
What seduces the viewer so quickly and completely is the holistic nature of this exhibition. The mechanical sound of the kinetic sculptures combined with the video works playing on loop creates the perfect audio atmosphere for the world Hall has made in gallery’s massive space. The artist has multiple architectural works: staircases of astroturf and tits, golden walls adorned with corn frieze (so, so much corn… so much corn one forgets it’s even a “thing”), water fountains, a girls polka dotted bedroom the viewer may choose to be inside of or observe through a window outside (or both). The sculptures seamlessly mitigate the space between the architecture and paintings as it all marinates in the weird sound bath completed by the viewers’ gasps and giggles. Hall truly has a way of turning the inside out in this exhibition. It allows the freaky little being that is our subconscious a place to run around and ask questions in the safety of a room full of entities, that may or may not understand our own peculiarities, but will surely acknowledge them with humor and sweetness. WM
Katelynn Mills is a painter and educator based in Southern California. She holds an MFA in Painting from The New York Studio School. Mills has been the recipient of a variety of awards, such as: The Mercedes Matter Award, the Peter Rippon/ Royal Academy Travel Grant, the Irwin Project Grant, and was an honoree for the President's Award for Excellence in Leadership at the LCU Fund for Women's Education.view all articles from this author