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War faces off pop icons at Fulcrum

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Jan. 27, 2010 at 6:54 am with No Comments »
January 26, 2010 11:19 pm
Troy Gua, "Monument." Photo courtesy of the artist.

Walk into Fulcrum gallery and you’ve got a choice. Turn left, and it’s mangled limbs and a blood-red war memorial. Right, and you can see three Michael Jacksons and Boy George reincarnated as Queen Elizabeth II.

Hmm, choices, choices. The irony is that the two sides of the gallery are both by the same artist – Troy Gua – and they don’t, in fact, either mock or detract from each other. They don’t exactly dialogue, but then you can’t expect too much.

On the left, Gua has constructed an eloquent testimony to soldiers who have lost limbs and lives in war. “Monument” has as its center an installation that flows down the wall onto the floor: On the wall, a grid of hand-cut tiles in rest-room-icon images, only with arms, legs or complete self missing. On the floor below is a blood-red ‘reflection pool’ of plexiglass, broken into segments. The utterance of loss is stark.

The other elements of “Monument” aren’t quite as powerful: a series of photographs of delimbed mannikins seem like cheesy Cindy Sherman, and the missing limbs are regurgitated as doll parts in a sculpture of plastic boxes – more gruesome than articulate.

Troy Gua, "The Michaels." Photo courtesy of the artist.

On the gallery’s right side, though, are Gua’s Pop Hybrids series. Photographs of pop or social icons that have been superimposed and rendered into glassy acrylic, enamel and resin on MDF, these are, for the most part, fantastic to look at. “The Michaels” layers Michael Jackson as child, teen and alien 50-year-old into a black and white portrait that’s both  troubled and ghostly, with evil-shaped eyes.

Troy Gua, "The Queens of England."

“The Queens of England” combines Queen Elizabeth II with – of course – Boy George, with the Union Jack for color, and it’s amazing how similar those half-lidded eyes and half-smile are in both. “Davids 2.0″ mixes Michaelangelo’s sculpture with his modern counterpart David Bowie, the two of them narcissistically beautiful with pointed chins and aquiline noses.

But the point of the Pop Hybrids, rather than similarity, seems to be the uncanny beauty that close dissimilarity affords, teasing our eyes and brain.

“Movement” is open at Fulcrum noon-6 p.m. Thur-Sat through Mar. 13, with artist talk 6:30 p.m. Feb. 18. Free. 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma. 253-250-0520, www.fulcrumtacoma.com

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