by Sam Richard
From the cute and cuddly creatures, to the drool, blood and, ahem, sexual fluids, Gary Baseman’s art continues to go in new directions and always remains a little bit outside of your typical gallery experience. Baseman’s art can be seen in many mainstream venues, from television and film (his three-time Emmy winning Disney show, “Teacher’s Pet,” and a movie of the same name), to books (his newest art book, “Dumb Luck”) to board games (Cranium). But when it comes to his gallery exhibitions, like the Manifestations of Desire show at Ox-Op Gallery, you wonder how Baseman ever got involved with the likes of Disney.
in Bronze” is a mixed-media piece—acrylic paint on an old black-and-white
photo of a naked woman kneeling, hands on her shoulders. The images from this
series feature figure models from 1930s/40s “art” publications.
Baseman embellishes these vintage pin ups by adding his signature creatures—disturbingly
cute, pastel-colored blobs of various shapes—who interact with the women
in the photos. In “Statuette in Bronze,” a stack of three blue,
round heads stare and drool; another creature, a brown blob with a Hershey’s
kiss head, affixes itself to the model’s behind.
In another mixed media series, Baseman paints on old photographs that look like
they were taken from a Girl Scout manual. “Squeeze My Desire” shows
two smiling Scouts standing beside a tree. One girl holds a drooling, pink,
eggplant-shaped blob, while a brown creature sits grinning on top of her head.
The other girl holds a white, egg-shaped creature with big eyes. The juxtaposition
of the oddball characters (did it pee on the her head?) with the naive, awe-inspired
expressions of the Girl Scouts is hilarious, and shows Baseman’s mastery
at blending the absurd with innocence and normality.
Some small, colored pencil illustrations round out the show. “Yawn Yawn’s
Manifestation of Desire” is drawn on a page of Japanese text. The illustration
features a creature with blood-soaked hands and the decapitated head of another
figure who looks up longingly. The piece is simultaneously cute and disturbing,
which is what so much of Baseman’s work is about. ||
Gary Baseman: Manifestations of Desire is on display through Jan.
31 at the Ox-Op Gallery, 1111 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-259-0085. Gallery
hours are Tue.–Fri. 4–8 p.m.; Sat. 1–5 p.m. Closed Sun. &