"Endless Vacation" now at Thinkspace, lives up to the fact that things aren't always what they seem to be. Artists Jeff Ramirez and Dan Lyndersen present artwork whose appearance and narrative cause a double take reaction, requiring a closer analysis. With his hyper realistic portraits, Ramirez puts us in first-person view as though recording the spontaneity of the night, while Lyndersen exposes how strange a narrative can get when creating visual unlikely relationships. "Endless Vacation" may at first connote a fabulous getaway, but, most vacations don't usually go as planned. In this show, both artists grasp the concept of the "unexpected" through uneasy, somewhat discomforting, paintings.
Inviting us to live in the moment with his subjects, Jeff Ramirez renders photorealistic paintings of what seems to have been a memorable night, but in fact, no one will recall. And although this may have been an amazing night, the people Ramirez portrays are defiant, unpleasant, and distant. Not only is the validity of these portrayals questioned, since at first seemingly being photographs, but so is the amusement of his characters.
"Ain't It Fun" bursts with sarcasm as a young woman rolls her eyes and drags her hands down the sides of her face. Her loud desperate grunt for attention is heightened by the sharp contrast of light flashing across her face. In "Every Place and Every Moment is Always The Best", a person anxiously pops a questionable purple pill. Like in most of Ramirez's paintings, anonymity plays an important role in capturing the essence of the moment. With their head thrown back and throat wide open, we can only imagine how soon this pill will take effect and how much more irrational the night will get. While "I Would Prefer Not To" shows a common act of defiance to someone having a candid picture taken of them, in "There There" a dog, blinded by the flash of an implied camera, is oblivious to the mayhem his owner has gotten himself into. The randomness of Ramirez's portrayals act as attempts to remember a given night, but instead only guide us nowhere.
As disturbing as Lyndersen's paintings may seem, there is a comforting quality in allowing our own interpretation to make sense of them. His contrasting themes result in intense representations, such as the painting "The Golden Hour". Here a breathtaking view turns into a disturbing sight as figures run away from a car bursting into flames. A young lifeless boy lies face down next to it. At a closer glance, a gas can next to the burning car suggests that this was an intentional fire gone wrong. In "Front and Rear", an adorable house fit for a doll, reveals its mysterious backyard. Being on top of a grassed hill is immediately degraded by a repugnant fluid trailing from underneath the house out into the vast already-collected amount. "Send-Off" also sets a tone difficult to take in. What is usually an exciting beginning of a new venture is dimmed to a somber depiction of a woman almost pushing away her dead loved one. The gloomy setting is offset by a red balloon prominently hovering over the dark farewell. Lyndersen's perplexing pieces may cause discomfort, yet, still manage to intrigue.
“Endless Vacation” at Thinkspace runs through August 31st.
Words and images by Jessica Portillo