May 142024
 

 

Kris Lemsalu’s sculptures for One foot in the gravy at Margot Samel are well crafted explorations into life and death, using a lot of tongues. There’s a lot of humor in the work, and this levity is nice to see in the galleries- especially in our current times.

The press release is interesting too-

One should acknowledge, with infinite joy, the fact of being alive. We should celebrate our existence and recognize its fragility in every moment. It’s easy to forget, to get distracted by mundane circumstances of our day-to-day life. On the other hand, life’s impermanence may induce panic, an all-encompassing fear that leaves us searching for answers. Still, we are resilient to becoming just another customer at Café Gratitude, its slogan ringing in our ears like a mosquito — What Are You Grateful For? Baruch Spinoza introduced the concept of conatus, which illustrates the internal drive of every being to persevere in its existence. The conatus is inherent to every substance; it is the engine that propels life. However, older philosophies get boiled down to artificially made bite-sized snacks at Café Gratitude — Live Laugh Love — pushing us to habitually flee from quick, feel-good moments.

Celebrating life doesn’t seem to intimidate Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu. Her work emphasizes, with absolute honesty, life and its different stages. This direct form of communication is not new to the artist. In 2019, she presented the work Birth V – Hi and Bye at the Venice Biennale which was an unmediated exploration of cycles relating to birth, life, death, and (fortunately) rebirth. Lemsalu continues her celebratory, inquisitive, and pagan journey in her exhibition at Margot Samel. We are welcomed with a grand altar inscribed with “VITA”, each letter created with an anthropomorphic character that references Baubo, a figure from Greek mythology associated with vitality and renewal, famed for making Demeter laugh in her most tragic moment. This figure often recurs in Lemsalu’s work, appearing with a jaw (or vulva) as a head, wearing a pair of cargo pants with tongues leaning out from its utilitarian pockets.

Tongues multiply in various sizes and formats throughout the space. Sometimes they are raised like the bright flag of a grand country, other times they rest on a rocking chair, contemplating life. The tongue is a familiar symbol in Lemsalu’s work. The artist often correlates the body part to the Hindu deity Kali, a controversial figure, who in the ecstasy of an uncontrolled dance, extended her great tongue to drink the blood of demons, resulting in a triumph over negative forces. Kali’s tongue is a symbol that evokes both laughter and fear, simultaneously bestowing life and death, creation and destruction.

When we enter the world of Lemsalu’s work, our experience functions as a ritual. Each work acts as a rite that celebrates our conatus and the perseverance of our existence, shamelessly celebrating our fragility and the passage of time, commemorating life with flowers, with one foot deep into the gravy.

Enrique Giner de Los Ríos

Oct 282022
 

Captain Hercules Fighting Hydra, 2015, by NYCHOS, located in downtown Los Angeles.

From his other website about the work-

It shows the fight between Captain Hercules and Hydra, and is a fusion of two stories: One goes back to the greek mythology, where Hercules is given the task to kill Hydra, a nine headed snake that grows two new heads for every decapitated one. The other story refers to a comic book published by none other than Marvel, where Captain America fights the identically named terrorist organization Hydra. When merging these two plots, Nychos creates the story of Captain Hercules, who is battling a multi-headed snake and its skeleton. Covered with the translucent skin of a lion and equipped with the attributes of both heroes – Hercules’ spear and Captain America’s shield – Nychos’ character appears on multiple layers, visually as well as substantially.

More of NYCHOS’ work can also be found on his Instagram.