If you like work that will make you cringe (in an aesthetic way, of course) then “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, curated by Stephanie Chefas at Cella Gallery is the show for you. True to its title, the work in the show is uncomfortable if not disturbing. And yet, with a consistently dark theme that informs each piece, the works nicely compliment each other, presenting a spectrum of intensity and surreal depravity, all of which serve to purge us of the deep emotions they elicit in the first place. The show includes work by Jessica Ward, Chrystal Chan, Christian Rex van Minnen, Annie Owens, Christine Wu, David Ball, Fulvio Di Piazza, Jana Brike, Judith Supine, and Michael Page. There are images of peculiar creations and unsettling horror painted with a skilled clean style, like walking into a human experimentation laboratory. Chrystal Chan's drawing The Earth that Eats Me takes on a literal meaning as a young girl camouflages herself within a bed of foliage. Upon closer examination, various skulls become more apparent; this is no longer a bucolic nature scene but rather a willful act of consumption and an almost eerie acceptance of death.
Initially, Jessica Ward's excruciatingly sadistic portraits may be hard to take in; later though they become oddly intriguing. Her two drawings, Sacher-Massoch and De Sade create uncomfortable situations, yet their sultry representations make it impossible to deny the oh-so-present seduction in the midst of torture.
Christian Rex van Minnen's paintings of plants sprouting through bulbous, organ-like, hunks of flesh are accented with silhouettes of no other than Renaissance masters’ paintings, his influence for his superlative artistry.
Michael Page conjures psychedelic worlds with his crazed use of color. His renditions of warped faces seem as if they are ignited by fire to allow the vibrant colors to melt into one another.
Wicked from top to bottom in subject matter, style, and expression, this show is nonetheless strangely mesmerizing. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” will be on view at Cella Gallery through March 23rd, 2013.
Words by Jessica Portillo. Images by Theonepointeight.