Magazine article Artforum International

Charles Garabedian

Magazine article Artforum International

Charles Garabedian

Article excerpt

L. A. LOUVER

The old adage that art offers the viewer a glimpse inside the artist's head isn't all it's cracked up to be. Often, a tour of an artist's psyche feels like sitting in on a stranger's therapy session or listening to a cocktail-party acquaintance recount last night's dream--boring, even embarrassing. But when Charles Garabedian opens the door to his mind, it is an entirely different experience. In his first Los Angeles show since 1996, Garabedian's twenty-three works on paper and canvas inspired not so much thoughts of escape as fears that the gallery might close too soon.

Many of Garabedian's new works involve his trademark idiosyncratic mingling of figuration, abstraction, landscape, symbolism, dream imagery, history and mythology, and comedy and tragedy. Butterflies, 1999, depicts two fragmented male nudes with brushlike fingers; one pushes his hand into the chest of the other in an ambiguous act of violence, intimacy, or healing. Around them float fillets of veiny flesh, pictograms and ghostlike figures of unknown origin, and a dreamy vignette of a boat with lips on its side and a noselike treble clef for a mast, sailing under clouds that become the eyes of a face. In Dragon, 1999, human bodies and serpents blend in and out of the landscape while two severed feet hover in the air; from a corner of the composition a cyclops peeks in with a string of ears trickling down its head. Figures become flesh, vegetation, water, and stone in Workshop, 1999, and the cacophony of abstract forms, symbols, and objects in Salmon Studio, 1998, is punctuated by a small volcano erupting and a giant pair of lips surrounded by a fence. …

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