The new space is deep and somewhat narrow, and feels a bit like being in a giant service hallway. Up the right wall, Neck Face’s work progressed from sketches to ink and gouache, while the left wall included the show’s mural, a series of Fuck This Life’s collages, and two large collaborative pieces.
Ranging from playful (a piece featuring wigged and rouged demons) to ultra-grime (a skeleton peppering a grave with feces and a demon vomiting colorful chunks into a toilet), Neck Face’s pieces delivered the skeletons and demons aesthetic that owes much to heavy metal–with plenty of pentagrams to spare, and even a detailed disemboweling piece–but what I particularly liked about Neck Face’s demons was his attention to detail in their tattoos.
The artist seemed to be suggesting that humans can be demons as well (or at least act that way from time to time), and although this isn’t an earth-shaking statement, it did add another layer of a meaning to a series of pieces that read like one-frame cartoons and featured a few dull jokes, like the exchange in “Untitled 7”.
Having only previously seen his lines in aerosol, I was impressed by Neck Face’s purposeful chaos in his sketches, especially in “Untitled 2”. The heavy charcoal mixed with scraggly fissure-lines of pencil skillfully evokes a creeping decay.
For his part, Fuck This Life created a series of rectangular collage works on white backgrounds with layouts reminiscent of Internet image searches. The artist could easily have created these by digital means, but the smaller images were clearly cut from newspapers and glossy magazines, and had a zine-like feel as a result.
The imagery most frequently tackled in each collage revolved around sex and death, with occasional appearances by hip-hop icons (Jay-Z, Chuck D, Little Wayne), celebrities (mostly women), and the odd transformation sequence from film or television (e.g. Bruce Banner becoming The Incredible Hulk or Michael Jackson becoming a zombie from the “Thriller” video). When mixed in this way, it was easy to wonder what kind of search word (or words) could create each grouping.
The two collaborative pieces were the most interesting part of the show. Done on square board, each featured Fuck This Life’s collage work, Neck Face’s character sketches, spray paint, and deliberate burn marks. “Lights Out!!!” was the stronger of the two.
The series of portraits that anchors its lower right corner–and rises up the right edge with Neck Face’s signature, hairy-clawed hand–appeared to be still frames of security camera footage (the lone color image in this grouping appears to show a defenseless man getting punched in the back of the head), mugshots, and police sketches.
This grouping was unsettling enough on its own, but when surrounded by Neck Face’s trademark imagery, it seemed as though both artists were unified in pursuing a visual representation of evil. The combination truly worked. It was haunting stuff and the highlight of the show.
Yet, I couldn’t help thinking that–rather than relating to the artists–this was a better expression of “Amerikas Most Wanted” in the show’s title, and perhaps even a missed opportunity for a stronger overall concept.
Neck Face/Fuck This Life, “2 of Amerikas Most Wanted”, runs through October 14th at New Image Art, 7920 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046.
Photos by Ryan Gattis