Whitehot Magazine

September 2011: Neck Face at New Image Art, Los Angeles

Neck Face, Untitled 2011

NECK FACE & FUCK THIS LIFE: 2 of Amerika’s Most Wanted
New Image Art, Los Angeles
September 18 - October 14, 2011

Dissident art never seems to go out of style -- especially when that artwork has its share of requisite T&A, vomit, poop, and laughing genitalia. And certainly if anyone can lend an air of false civility to this seemingly endless investigation, it would have to be Neck Face. A major player in what has come to be termed “American street art culture” and a participant in MOCA’s recent Art in the Streets exhibition, Neck Face, whose new drawings in charcoal and gouache on view at New Image Arts continue his investigation into human grotesqueries of all kinds, employs a particular focus on our culture’s inability to forge lasting human connections. These images chart a course of isolation, desolation, and the more or less awkward human idiosyncrasies that define us as living beings; albeit, broken, sick and more often than not, bizarrely twisted ones.

Neckface, Untitled, 2011

Working in conjunction with the group Fuck This Life, Neck Face continues to explore the underbelly of American culture; and as with other artists like Marcel Dzama working in a similar “counter-cultural style,” Neck Face celebrates the fine art of misery as a foundation for a broader more open-ended discussion of our general cultural malaise.  Drawing on significant tropes including racism, sexism and youth culture, works like “Wrong Lamp Little Nigga,” (2011) show a vibrant, bloody, three-headed genie strangling a scrawny, bristle-haired blue figure. The implication here is that the small blue man is aligned with a darker sensibility and wrongly assumed his own luck would be good if he rubbed the peripatetic bottle. Here, as with other drawings in this series, Neck Face conflates the idea of injustice with an inherent assumption that “shit just happens” no matter what the circumstances or our perceived attitudes, so everyone and anyone is culpable.

Neck Face, Untitled, 2011

Other drawings, mostly ink and gouache on paper, are less overtly rigorous, as with the work “Welcome to the Afterparty,” which proposes a visual relationship between decadence and sexuality, death and seduction, as a red clad skeleton seems to leer at a young tattooed Elvira type that turns out to be Amy Winehouse. The images balance each other in the corners of the picture plane like two ballasts, strangely holding down the surrounding negative space, creating another, implied level of conversation between the two figures.

Neck Face’s use of the color red is also of some relevance and certainly not accidental as it frequently transforms passages of compositions into a hiccup or visual tick; as the red of genie skin or a girl’s brassiere carries the same brutal weight and ribald sexual nuances as the figure-based narrative itself. All in all, Neck Face is on to something here and it isn’t simply “cock for cock’s sake” basic shock-value; these drawings allude to a more compelling and unsettling undercurrent of brutality that informs the basic human condition, one in which we are all suspect whether or not we care to admit it. 

Neck Face, Untitled, 2011

Neck Face, Untitled, 2011

Eve Wood

Eve Wood is both a critic and an artist. She was represented for five years by Western Project and before that at Susanne Vielmetter; Los Angeles Projects. She has exhibited her work at numerous galleries including Angles Gallery, The Huntington Beach Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art etc. Her art criticism has appeared in many magazines including Flash Art, Artnet.com, Tema Celeste, NY Arts, Angelino Magazine, Art Papers, Bridge, ArtUS, Art Papers, Artweek, Latin Arts.com, Art Review and Artillery. She is also the author of five books of poetry and one novel.

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