Critical Reflections: Gregory Lomayesva - Bounce

URSA<br /> 550 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe

Date June 30, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Author Anthony Hassett

Publication THE magazine

Categories Performing Arts


As Santa Fe succumbs to its seventh pandemic of biennial fever,

and contemporary New Mexico-based artists get shoved aside by statements, proposals, notes, and spectacle, those who appreciate homegrown talent can bypass the great, heaving, disparate mass of Globalization and head over to URSA to witness Gregory Lomayesva's quiet homage to wrecked homes, Bounce. Refreshingly unblinkered, relaxed in technique, unconcerned with style, fame, and who got there first, Bounce navigates the perilous path of interpersonal relationships.

It unearths, in its progress, the worm-riddled promises of love that are one part foolishness, one part edificatory disaster, and (buried in the slippage) that one part of moral beauty that undergoing a prolonged period of suffering can produce.

The complexity of Lomayesva's gesture toward memory, and the psychological memorabilia it occasions, is underscored by the way he chooses fragments and pushes them in idiosyncratic directions. We see paintings of pole dancers with smeared features or ominously empty eyes, wood carvings of incipiently fat men stuffed into miniature burning houses, beer-swilling slobs stretched out in EZ chairs like hand-molded sacks of fast-drying cement, a young blonde on her hands and knees fishing around for her tennis racket, and leafless trees erupting from, or enveloping, middle-class homes. There is a cool symmetry between the sculptural aspects of the show and the paintings, and many instances of doubling. At certain points it is difficult to tell whether a carving is a study for a painting or the painting a study for the carving. In this light, it is worth noting that the artist's predominant interest lies not in the specifics of medium. Rather, what appears more compelling in this case is the question of representation-memory shifting between the ephemeral and romantic palette of the paintings and the obdurate, separable repetition of the sculpted object. The emotional effect this strategy produces, should one be receptive to it, is not of a strictly compositional space, but rather a place (like memory) where things are.

The stakes involved in articulating any form of earnestness, beauty, or sentiment are high, as this is ground for critical suspicion-bringing up questionable relationships to cliché and convention. But much of this is diffused by Lomayesva's up-to-the-minute common sense. Instead of aiming for the "big emotions,"€ he concentrates on interiority itself-human beings left alone with their experiences. In A Study Of Your Love Affair With Christian Louboutin, we are introduced, in acrylic, to an impetuous summary of a girl's shoe collection, which is painstakingly reproduced in carved Jelutong wood. Faithfully rendered in size eight pairs, the shoes reflect a sense of loss for the person who once wore them, as well as an anxiety about commodity status. More than that, implicit in the work is a kind of aesthetic self-abnegation, affected in order to escape both art's (and love's) promise of permanence and the paradoxical lure of the market.

The convenient antonymy between desire and disgust is explored with relish. The human body-attractive, brutish, reflective-almost automatically pursuing fulfillment through personal and social rituals, is thwarted at every turn by the billowing, dark turbulence of emotional weather or environmental ferocity. Each body is either grand or companionable, or a small omen of approaching chaos. Each girl-each house, each heart, each tree, and each shoe-possesses a measure of magical utility, until something or someone is gripped by the urge to doom it all. In Argument, a totem of Juletong wood and acrylic paint, we have a perfectly fine example of how a piece of wood can convey the treeless waste of domestic conflict in a few simple gestures. A woman covers her face while yet another domineering husband raises his arm to strike her down. And it is here that the strength of the work resides, precisely here that the pretense of working the gap between art and life disappears in the strangely ordinary world of interpersonal relationships, especially since we live in a country that constantly brays its commitment to imagining a world that is less ugly, more beautiful, less discriminatory, more democratic, less dehumanizing, and more humane than our own. The fact is driven home in Lomayesva's illuminating pageant of frustrated aims-the family is the cradle of all the world's dysfunction, where each of us learns the arts of domination and subjugation that produce all our familiar icons of suffering. Even so, there is a tiny ray of hope in the negative here. In a passage from a Hopi folk tale that tags a triptych of faceless strippers, we are told, in a few fragments, to persevere"€¦