Kenton Brett, "Sunday Picnic," Ink, charcoal, digital print, and paper
Kenton Brett and David Jarred co-curated the show currently up at Thunder-Sky, Inc., titled "(F)art Show," which is up a couple more weeks. It's a group gig filled with wonderful and hilarious moments. The two of them (under the guise of Golden Brown) truly have done a magnificent job installing all of the works, so I wanted to spend some time with some of the pieces I admire.
First off, it's one by Mr. Brett himself, titled "Sunday Picnic." Essentially a diorama made from cut-out drawings, "Sunday Picnic" has a presence both on the wall and in your head of blanched Saturday morning cartoons slowly transforming into a Bosch bash that is both frightening and terribly funny. The meticulous care it took to make this paper wonderland is breathtaking. Each fragment has a skillfully accomplished edge, and the whole enterprise is just plain flawless. The assembled, lacy atmosphere makes me think of both Henry Darger's warrior princesses and Kara Walker's supercharged silhouettes. The simplicity of the landscape gets overcrowded with a sort of leisurely mania. A coloring book has exploded and definitely does not want anyone to color in its lines. Also Kenton seems to be referencing storybook illustrations from the 19th Century (like those Sir John Tenniel did for Alice in Wonderland) while undermining the whimsy with fart clouds and a deadpan depiction of Victoriana: a stiff upper-lip uncurls into a Monty Python snarl.
That really is what the show centers on: a joke that inverts itself and becomes so polished and pristine you have to take it seriously just because it makes no sense and is so skillfully executed. The senselessness is the point, but also the counterpoint. Kenton's constellation of drawings inhabiting a black box has a sort of puppet-show innocence to it, but also a Vaudevillian meanness, a propensity for anarchy. You want to laugh even when you feel a little uncomfortable with its manners turning to shit.
I'll be writing about some more of the pieces through the closing of the show. Stay tuned...