6763 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles
September 19 - 29, 2007
12pm - 8pm daily
The world famous Lazarides gallery, mostly known for their representation of the British artist Banksy, helps to debut Antony Micallef’s Impure Idols in Los Angeles. Consisting of over 25 works on canvas and multiple gaudy, gold sculptures, the artist received a sold-out show, leaving me to wonder ‘what the hell has happened to America's ’s dignity?’
Themes of fame, vanity, sex, and mass production within the Hollywood culture lined every piece of work, which, in my opinion, is a pretty arrogant subject matter for a non-American to pump out and exhibit within America. A series of images entitled “Hollywood Prayers 1, 2, and 3" show a little girl with text on the side stating such things as “Dear Lord, please can you save all the starving children in the world and please can you make a miracle so I can have that Versace dress. Amen.” Or “Dear Lord, when I’m older please can you make me really famous and very rich and please can you make my face look very beautiful so all the kids watching tv have someone to look up to. Amen.”
A gold sculpture sat in the main gallery of a little boy with a tray full of fast food, an obvious hit on America’s problem with obesity, negating the fact that England’s rate of obese people is a mere 10% less than America’s according to Forbes Magazine, and their country is about the size of Pennsylvania.
What upset me the most about the entire show was that Micallef was vagrantly speaking out against the actions of the Hollywood culture, yet played into it three-fold by not only pricing his works at minimum of $30,000 a piece, but holding it within the very city that he so obviously hates. If Hollywood is such a vain and disgusting place, then why keep the address of your show secret until hours before the preview, and why invite such people as the Olsen twins, Christina Aguilera, and Mena Suvari? It seems to me that talk is cheap when it comes to Micallef’s work, for his actual theory is how to make as much money as possible through the sales and media that he retained through this exhibition. The whole night was full of Hollywood wannabe’s, celebrities, and Micallef walking in two hours late smoking a cigarette and acting as if he couldn’t care less about the outcome. As a round point to the artist, he certainly made his statement stand true by the pretentiousness of the crowd that attended.
On an aesthetic note, there is no doubt that Micallef has artistic ability–his works such as “The Peacekeeper” and “Mythic Weapon Series: Uzi Lover 1” are beautiful portrayals of war-torn soldiers and minotaurs covered in floral garb. However, pieces like “Mythic Weapon Series: Improvised Minotaur,” with a minotaur soldier standing face on decorated in such logos as Prada, Disney, and McDonalds is quite reminiscent of Banksy, though he never placed a value on his work until after he did Blur’s “Think Tank” album cover.
The bottom line is, Micallef’s show was a success–to the gallery, to the artist, and to the people who sat around drinking their little cans of champagne ogling the ‘pretty people’ at the preview. The show was not a success to the people who actually went there expecting to see something original, theory based, thought provoking, or a ‘good’ piece of art (on a subjective level of course). Micallef, to me, is a cheap rip-off of Banksy without the originality, guts, or political statements that Banksy used to make, and although I have no doubt that Impure Idols will prove to be a huge success in the minds of most, it truly depresses me to see my fellow Los Angelenos dumb themselves down for a “valuable” piece of work made under false pretenses.
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Alexx Shaw is a freelance writer in LA.