The best way to describe Eric Timothy Carlson's current show, "Resist Pop Fantasy II: Liquids Words," now exhibiting at SooVAC, is to say that it is a conceptual thesis in resistance of contemporary American culture.
A varied collection encompassing mixed media work that incorporates found objects, pop iconography, and a sarcastic sense of humor, Carlson takes the viewer into an argument against living as society dictates we live. His way of making this argument doesn't always make logical sense. In fact, the concepts are almost incomprehensible, unless you use your dream mind to make sense of it.
Take Necromonican(Burnt Rains), for example. The 60''x40'' piece, made of toner, ink, graphite, tape, acrylic, and oil on museum board sucks you into its world. Layers of black on black, divided into two sides, reverberate with an energy that is at once frenetic and at the same time meditative.
Another large piece is a 28'x10' organic cotton white sheet, which the notes for the show lists "humans" as one of the materials used to create it. The title of the work is Earth Crooks. Perhaps it is a statement about human kind's imprint on nature, or perhaps it was created simply for the gross-out factor (it is the most grotesque in the collection), but at the same time there is a certain beauty in it too.
Some of the pieces in Carlson's show at SooVAC are deceptively logical. For example, in Anti-Work Carlson uses graphite to draw a picture of a cat with boots lying on top of two Yin Yang symbols. There is calligraphy above the image of the cat, with the word "lazy" on the top right corner. At first glance, it appears to be a simple homage to a Taoist lifestyle, but perhaps there is another message as well about our society's inability to accept creating art as a real job.
One section of the show called "Pop Fantasies" is made up four graphite pieces titled Substance, Text, Symbol, and Surface. The most notable of these is Symbol, featuring a number of recreated images from popular culture, including drawings of peace signs, Bugs Bunny, a photo of a nude woman with her legs spread, a women in prayer, and an upside down image of an athlete in motion. While Carlson calls the section "Pop Fantasies," it is more like a nightmare, juxtaposing all that society supposedly values with what it looks down upon. Carlson shows all of the images with an unbiased scorn.
Although there definitely seems to be a message throughout Carlson's show, thankfully it isn't just all about that. The work has an aesthetic that stands on its own, so fretting too much if you don't "get it" is not warranted. Probably the most satisfying way to experience the exhibition would be to do mushrooms beforehand, but if that's not possible, the best thing to do is just chill out at as much as possible and let the art take you for a ride.
"Resist Pop Fantasy II: Liquids Words" can be seen at SooVAC Gallery (2638 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.871.2263). Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.