Thursday, February 12, 2009

Splitting at the Seems

Tonight, Thursday Feb 12th, is the night for LA's monthly Downtown Art Walk which this time includes the closing reception for Larry Pearsall's Beneath the Seam at the Downtown Art Center Gallery from 6 - 9 PM.

"There’s an abandoned warehouse near the heart of Ice Dirt Town, where a bald, bearded and extremely tall pedophile named Bon lords over a harem of barely teenage boys — Lapito, Alex, Day Day, Billy, Ralph, Kevin; amputees Earl (left arm), Fakebein (right arm) and Marleytom (right leg), and about a dozen others. The boys don’t seem to realize they’re being abused. In fact, the few times we see them out of their ubiquitous denim overalls — being tickled or posing for a snapshot — they remain chastely clad in shorts and socks. But the cats see all. The Applebaycats, led by Blato, creep through the broken heating ducts of the abandoned warehouse: observing, commenting and envisioning a better time. A time beyond Bon.

This is the underlying scenario for one of the most compelling exhibits of narrative-based art in recent memory, a tour de force titled “Beneath the Seams,” currently on view at the recently opened DAC Gallery on Main Street at the edge of downtown’s gallery row. Artist Larry Pearsall is soft-spoken but happy to talk about his work and the avowedly fictional world it depicts. “The cats can’t do much. Except this one called the police on Bon. He was the last one to call the police, and that’s when the police came,” recounts the artist. “Bon goes to jail. Him and Molly and Brures. And they were after Balisha and her boyfriend, Reggie.” Balisha leads a contingent of slightly older, mostly African-American teens, who seem to sometimes provide the boys’ escape from Bon’s predations — and sometimes participate in them.

It’s hard to get a clear picture about the exact chain of events, or the specific roles each character plays, because Pearsall unfolds his story in discrete achronological fragments: single-frame tableaux rendered in a flat, jagged cartoon style as acrylic paintings on paper or canvas (as well as sculptures not included in this show) that jump discontinuously between settings, times and characters. Moreover, the almost 100 works included in “Beneath the Seams” are only a fraction of the completed chapters comprising a complex epic that shows no indication of reaching completion anytime soon. Which is probably why writer/director/producer Obie Scott Wade thinks Pearsall’s work is perfect for an Adult Swim–style animated series.

“I fell in love with the notion of animating Larry’s brilliant work because he paints as if God were holding a gun to his head and he cannot tell a lie,” asserts Wade, whose résumé includes Baby Looney Tunes and a transgender version of Shazam!, called Shezow. Citing Persepolis and Waltz With Bashir, Wade believes that “if handled properly, animation is the perfect medium to deal with hypersensitive subject matter. Larry is painting a singular universe populated with fully realized characters dealing with some very grimy issues.”

Read the rest of On the Seamy Side: Larry Pearsall's Avant-Garde Graphic Narrative here

1 comment:

Ryan Callis said...

Doug H I am a better pair of eyeballs for having seen and read that. That painting at the top with the cats might have changed my painting life. a generation of stoner/illustrator types waisted years trying to produce work with such...such...BAM