'Creep Alert' by Noah Harmon
"Fuck You Dad," reads one of Noah Harmon's paintings now up at One on One Bicycle Studio. The words are written in bold letters and accompany the image of a man with three eyes, two noses, two lips, black scribbled hair, and a thin, black beard. It's a jarring piece, full of anger, only thinly veiled by it's childlike technique. This could be the painting of every artist who chooses to pursue their art over their parents objections, but Harmon expresses the sentiment with such rawness, it takes one aback to look at it.
The piece really defines the theme of the whole exhibit, which features work by Harmon as well as Mary Gibney, two artists who use irony as a means of expression. For Harmon, much of the work seems to grapple with personal identity, in some cases defining oneself by exploring what is ugly about humanity. His work is full of portraits of losers and weirdos. "Creep Alert," reads one painting of a boy with a bowl haircut, his teeth sticking out as he subtly smiles in a dazed expression. "Adult Self," reads another, depicting a balding man with wrinkles drawn into his bearded face.
It's as if Harmon, a young man who indeed has all of his hair and is not fat, explores fears of what could be, of what he could become. Or, his characters are simply manifestations of the ugliness of society. Either way, there's an underlying cynicism that is always covered by a satiric flourish. "Think about it," reads one painting, a banana with a pink background.
Gibney similarly uses satire in her work, and depicts felons and various other seedy characters. Many of her works in the show are taken from mug shots. For example, there's a drawing of a frightening looking man with a beard and hollow face glaring at the viewer. It overlays an index of words, and at the bottom, it reads "Mugshot Drawing, Arrested in Minneapolis, April 3, 1972." Who knows the significance of this particular person, but there's an intentional juxtaposition going on between the drawing and the words underneath with the corresponding pages to find more about these words. "Funny Bone," is written in, as an afterthought, perhaps to the typed index. Gibney contrasts the apparent orderliness of the found piece of paper, the symbol for knowledge, with the depiction of a person who has clearly taken a different path.
'Fuck You Dad' by Noah Harmon
There are paintings of mugshots too, and also policemen, who look just as evil as the criminals. There are nightclub singers, girls with four legs, and women with no arms. Like Harmon, Gibney chooses as her subjects the underbelly of society, although in her case, it seems less a self exploration as a critique of what society values, and of our society's judgment of particular choices in life.
The two artists' styles work very well together. They have a similar sense of humor and eye, and a darkness that is barely covered by their melancholy whimsy.
"Gabba Gabba We Accent You One of Us"
Work by Mary Gibney and Noah Harmon
Through January 4, 2013
One on One Bicycle Studio
117 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis