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August 2008, Narratives of the Perverse - NO ONE UNDER 18 @ Jancar Gallery

 Ignacio Noe, Untitled, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

Narratives of the Perverse – NO ONE UNDER 18
: the Boundaries of Disclaimers
Jancar Gallery
Through August 30, 2008

Jancar Gallery presents Narratives of the Perverse – NO ONE UNDER 18, whose subtitle is the topic of this review. Allowing no one into the exhibition under the age of eighteen, one wonders just by the title what sort of work will be displayed. Consisting of ten artists represented by Jancar gallery including the internationally known Argentinean erotica comic book illustrator, Ignacio Noe, the gallery is filled with ceramics, painting, embroidery, mixed media, and drawings.

Images such as Snow White giving fellacio to a dwarf, Scooby Doo penetrating Thelma “doggie-style,” and a painted red paper with actual pubic hair forming an abstract shape resembling a buttocks graces the interior. In the main office, a mural-sized drawing by Dickson Schneider entitled “The Fish Wife,” portrays a large octopus performing oral sex on a woman which makes you want to scream upon viewing “There’s something in The Mist!”

 Roger Herman, 2008, ceramic bowl, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

Ignacio Noe, Untitled, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

 Ignacio Noe, Untitled, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

Ignacio Noe’s comical drawings of a “naughty nun” being caught by the Mother Superior having intercourse with what looks to be an alien bouquet of phalluses seems to deal with fantasy, religion, and morals. As the Sister attempts to hack at them with an axe, the culprit sits and licks her fingers in a provocative manner.

The creepiest and possibly most powerful of the exhibited was a small painting in the main gallery of labia curtains in which a shadowed figure peeps through. Taking Degas’ keyhole effect and the tableau vivant to a new level, any female viewer would feel vulnerable, exposed, and dirty.

 Tyler Stallings, Double Torso, 2008, 12" X 9"
 watercolor on canvas, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA  

 Ignacio Noe, Untitled, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

 Ignacio Noe, Untitled, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

Overall, the work in Narratives appears to be a typical conglomeration of pop culture erotic entertainment which does not deserve the disclaimer of “No One Under 18.” According to Tom Jancar, the gallery director, owner, and curator, the idea of the exhibit was to “…both bridge and blur the boundaries between the fine art culture and the popular art culture making erotic art works.” If this is the case, then why does the show need a disclaimer? Fine Art, according to the Supreme Court ruling in 1998 falls under the first amendment of Freedom of Speech after Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs were so graphic that a trial was actually set to discuss whether to allow them in museological institutions. So why does Jancar gallery feel it necessary to add a disclaimer for drawn imagery, and how does this affect the show’s potential and intent?

As families have increasingly become the target audience for museums and galleries over the past five to ten years, Narratives has quickly stripped away that target and made it more for voyeuristic singles. Is the disclaimer on the title acting as a warning label for the general viewer that they have to be either a voyeur, perverse, perverted, or a fan of one of the artists in order to enjoy the show? As viewing possibilities are cut in half by placing work within the White Cube already, the censorship to minors and families then decrease the number of exhibition goers even more; not to mention those who read the title Narratives of the Perverse – NO ONE UNDER 18, and think to themselves ‘this is a show of perversion and X rated material that may be too much for me.’ Jancar responds to this by saying “I don’t think that most people will even think much of the title once they have entered the gallery and are viewing the work.” This is most likely true if viewers can initially get past the title.

 Ignacio Noe, Untitled, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy Jancar Gallery, LA

The images on Jancar gallery’s website for Narratives are censored as well. If youths under the age of eighteen can access regular pornography, or even a nude photograph of Brooke Shields as a teenager by simply typing it into a search engine, why censor cartoon images of “erotica?” Even Classical and Modern imagery such as Olympia, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and The Venus of Urbino are on display not only in museums, but in Art History survey classes in high schools. Is it the gallery’s job to censor their work? Where is the line drawn?

Narratives of the Perverse – NO ONE UNDER 18
is truly an entertaining show. However, I am not, nor will ever be an advocate for censorship, especially concerning “fine art.” The subtitle is exceptionally problematic and could cause many issues with multiple viewer demographics. For peace of mind, the works displayed are nowhere near as raunchy and pornographic as the title makes it sound. If you can bear through Boys Don’t Cry and Basic Instinct, Narratives will not offend you.

Jancar gallery is located at 3875 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1308, and will be moving to 961 Chung King Road on August 31. Narratives of the Perverse is open from August 9 – August 30 Thursday through Saturday from 12 – 5 PM.

Alexx Shaw for WM LA

Alexx Shaw is a freelance writer in LA.

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