Review: Psychosexual narratives at Redux's Subtle Imperfections 

Hello, Satan

On Friday, Redux hosted the opening reception of Subtle Imperfections, an exhibition showcasing works by Mark Hosford and Janice Jakielski.

In the first room of the gallery, the elaborate headgear of Jakielski is displayed on department store mannequin busts covered in white nylon stocking fabric. "Lah-lah" and "Beware! I am Fanciful" both consist of richly colored silks, with deftly executed tufting, ruching, and pleating. Intricately embroidered birds and flowers adorn eye masks and earmuffs. Inspired by the Amish bonnets and hats belonging to the artist's grandmother, Jakielski's "body dressings" call to mind elaborate court dress, adornment, and coquetry, as well as flight helmets.

Jakielski refers to the "flirtatiously seductive" nature of her work. That's an understatement. At her hand, the benign bonnet is transformed into a sensory deprivation mask fit for a courtesan. The earmuffs, tied neck ribbons, and embroidered eye masks, as well as the stocking over the face of the mannequin, hint at something darker.

The subject matter of Mark Hosford's prints and drawings suggest childhood trauma, and the artist's statement supports that association. "When I slept, I was constantly visited by fantastic nightmares. My dreams were inescapable and graphic, filling my mind with vivid images I wanted to relay upon waking." What causes such dreams and imaginings in a young child?

Hosford's screen prints are aggressively raw, executed in a rough-hewn cartoon style and a carnival palette. His printmaking process appears flawless. "Hello, Satan," displayed in the first room of the gallery, is a sinister depiction of the Hello, Kitty character. "Hello, Satan" spoke to me, though maybe it's because Sanrio Surprises was a personal childhood Mecca. Yes, that store in the mall.

Other Hosford prints call to mind Kara Walker's silhouettes, with a ghoulish twist. The artist, influenced by "comics, animation, punk, metal, tattoo, horror, sci-fi, street art, and counter culture," incorporates severed heads as a recurring motif. He expresses fascination with ghosts, spirits, and the unknown, a not uncommon fixation. Hosford's renderings of his dream world, however, are more obsessed with putrid flesh, oozing boils, dripping blood, and botched surgical procedures.

Hosford's Rorschach drawings, occupying an entire wall in the main room of the gallery, are executed in pencil, with an unbelievably fine line. The imaginary creatures depicted appear both vulnerable and sinister. Various mammalian skulls, quadrupeds, and worms mingle amongst other anatomical and organic parts. The Rorschachs are a compendium of nightmare imagery. Hosford's obsessive, meticulous technique keeps us intrigued, in spite of the disturbing nature of the subject matter. The graphite drawings, while subtler than the prints, are no less grotesque in nature.

There is a thread of continuity between the two artists. Jakielski and Hosford both refer to childhood objects, experiences, and memories when describing their bodies of work. There exists some repression, tension, and underlying psychosexual narrative. Perhaps I'll revisit the exhibition with a therapist.

Also of note, the incredibly talented Joel Hamilton, aka Mechanical River, performed Friday evening. Wearing a helmet. Covering his ears.

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