Misty Burruel: Newspace

By Miles, Christopher | Artforum International, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Misty Burruel: Newspace


Miles, Christopher, Artforum International


In her second solo show at Newspace, Misty Burruel persisted in her attempt to engineer a decorative Pop-psychedelic Art of the Uncanny, here focusing on how representations of nature may become emblems of confusion, desire, aspiration, and tweaked Romanticism.

Rim of the World, 2006, shared the title of Burruel's show and formed the sculptural centerpiece of the main gallery. Modeled after a topographical map of three sites near Highway 18 in the San Bernardino Mountains, it is made from layered sheets of contoured birch plywood. Irregularly shaped but roughly the size of a boardroom table, it is elevated off the floor on short legs, putting it at the right height for child's play. Surrounding this work were five untitled wall-mounted sculptures, all also (rather improbably) dated 2006. Each of these began life as a stock molded-foam mule deer (a breed native to the area) of the sort available from taxidermy suppliers.

On to three of the heads, Burruel has grafted flat, round ears, so that the creatures suggest crosses between deer, hyenas, and comic-book mice. Coated in white paint that gives them a porcelainlike surface, the heads and necks have been hand-decorated, as if by a china painter, with polka dots (derived from the balloon design on Wonder Bread packaging), birds, and dogwood flowers, and a repeated motif of three conjoined circles that looks like Mickey Mouse's internationally recognizable silhouette. Brushed on in boyish blues and girly pinks, these motifs also suggest dividing and multiplying cells, or the spread of an infection. The trophies are mounted on elaborate plaques cut from plywood into profiles of "natural" deer that double as impossible shadows.

Two other works, one a diorama, the other a trophy, each also sporting markings that appear at once decorative and pathological, take more ghoulish and goofy turns. …

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