January 28–March 31, 2012
Pope.L's second exhibition at Catherine Bastide Gallery is entitled 'Three Projects' and is comprised of actually four projects.
From the ceiling, the artist has hung a large fragmented figural work that drips chocolate and is called 'A Vessel In A Vessel In A Vessel and so On' : suspended upside-down from the ceiling of the Gallery, is a larger-than-life hollow plastic statue of a saucy pirate babe, her stance and dishabille suggesting eternal Mardi Gras. Her head has been lopped off and replaced by a plaster bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., slightly smaller than life-size and coated with gold.
Incandescent light glows from the interior of Pope.L's recycled pirate, and thick chocolate syrup drips from the top of the civil rights leader's head, pooling on the floor in an ever-expanding puddle that resembles spilled blood. On the serving tray in the pirate's hand, Pope.L has affixed a mirror, allowing viewers to catch their reflections against the backdrop of dark, glistening syrup. Strictly speaking, "A Vessel in a Vessel in a Vessel and So On" is a clunky chandelier. Or a supersize, nonstop syrup dispenser for some misbegotten ice cream stand. Or a ceiling-mounted vanity for someone who has everything. And that's the tip of the iceberg. Things get complicated when the metaphors loaded into Pope.L's piece spill out and draw in viewers. To my eye, the sculpture does not mock King. But it does raise profound questions about his legacy, his place in history and, most important, in public consciousness. Sexuality — and what people make of it — also enters the picture, with the endless supply of sugary sweetness oozing from the upended bust like an overflow of libido. And humor plays an essential role. The piece is both utterly ridiculous and right at home in our topsy-turvy world. It also raises questions about art's place in life, and where politics and entertainment fit in.
Two works ring the walls of the space: 21 drawings from Pope.L's ongoing racialist drawing enterprise entitled 'Skin Set'. Interspersed between the drawings at uneven intervals is ‘Polis’, a set of intimately scaled shelf pieces; each holds a single painted onion.
On the floor is a tall glass of milk entitled WELL. ‘WELL’ is a few things: a stand-in for a performer; a place-holder for a sculpture; the frame and the liquid for a painting; the image for a slideshow; a pillow for an emperor, a pixel for a value system. The piece is a performance of ways of making. In terms of time, it is a moment indexing many moments and each one is a conflation of strategies, techniques, wishes and propositions evaporating into each other.
At the entrance and at the far end of the gallery ‘two season drawings’ are hanging very low to emphasize the contrasting ways children and adults perceive the world around them.
Pope.L continues his longtime interest in the use of organic materials, a playful dispersal of media, format and language in order to create an exhibition that hovers between ideas, sensibilities, artworks and projects without loyalty to any.