Chris Coy “A Little Death” at Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles
Late 18th century France brought us decapitation and, in equal measure, rococo, with its playful, effervescent brush strokes and soothing pastel radiance.
Fragonard’s grand gesture of The Swing was as much a sweeping erotic spectacle of ancien régime courtship as it was a prologue to the sanguine collapse of the French social order. And yet, within the jardin à la française, all are subject to a rigid Cartesian logic, from the hare’s warm blood still flowing over freshly-cut grass to the upskirt hijinks of a maiden and her two male admirers.
It is from the exterior environment of the French garden to the chateau’s interior where the rococo steps in, imagineering domestic space with a complete totality, and an overwhelming compulsion to link spatial awareness with sensual cues. Gilded leaves, floral patterns, branches, tree roots and bronze cherubs become hyperlinked invitations to touch, hear, smell or taste this simulated garden of earthly delights. Unblemished mirrors are part and parcel of the experience, bouncing midsummer sunshine throughout the room’s arched surfaces and asymmetrical stucco trim—a tableau of bourgeois rituals regurgitated as decor.
The primacy of the mirror in the rococo was perhaps a reflection of the frivolity of form, yet as an interface it made viewing oneself both a social and political experience. The world made flesh reworked into the picturesque, the curious and the whimsical, atop mantels, ornamented wall panels and gallery passages. Here was a codification of the glances, winks and errant looks that sustained a social order fortunate enough to occupy this private space, and whose future slaughter would thrill a jeering public. The mirror is the same imagined site of action within which we now touch, tap, swipe and pinch, all in the hope of an immediate realization of an imponderable dream.
Anat Ebgi is pleased to present Chris Coy’s first solo show at the gallery. Comprising a new series of painting, installation and video work, Coy expands on his previous use of themes blending frivolity with horror, sublimated psychological desire and sanctified experience. A mural-sized oil painting of airbrushed chrome mines the surface language of rococo, linking the movement’s attentiveness to sensuality and form with the overwhelmingly haptic characteristics of the modern interface. Elaborating upon these narratives are mirror installations placed at opposite ends of the gallery, one atop a mantle in the front room, while an opposing pair etched with Disney iconography flanks a video installation in the gallery’s rear. In situating his work in the rituals of social identification, beauty and superfluidity, Coy addresses how the visual paints a vector towards both unknowable and transcendent potentialities.
at Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles
until 22 October 2016