Art Openings for Clive Barker and John Santerineross
Downtown LA is always hopping and tonight isn’t any exception. A pair of art openings on the same block are sure to stir up a few hornets in the not too distant future.
John Santerineross has been at the center of heated discussion and condemnation from religious groups for some time. His previous shows have been met with critical acclaim and conservative lambasting because of his intense erotic subject matter and use of iconographic symbolism.
“John Santerineross is mentioned extensively in Catholic League President Bill Donahue’s newly released (September 2009) book entitled “Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America” (ISBN# 978-0446547215) along with several other groundbreaking artists including Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe in Chapter 4: Artistic Sabotage. Donohue states:
“In 2006 at KFMK Gallery in New York City, an exhibit of the work of John Santerineross featured a photo of a woman with her genitals cut and bleeding; a crucifix was placed below the woman, and the blood from her mutilated genitalia was shown running into a wine glass. Just so we got the point, the photo was dubbed “The Transformation of the Madonna”. These artistic assassins want to artistically assassinate Christianity, especially Catholicism. They are not artists who are simply making a statement. They are nihilists. Not to understand the difference between artists who protest Christianity’s teachings on sexuality, and moral anarchists out to sabotage Christianity altogether, is not only to miss what is at stake, it does an injustice to their work.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Santerineross )
Tonight’s works feature nude figures in various stages of discomfort with substantial propping and staging. As I perused the exhibit tonight (a preview soft opening before tomorrow’s art walk) I found myself drawing similarities between Santerineross’ work and that of Joel-Peter Witkin . While stylistically similar and evocative of like-minded mood, the images in tonight’s show don’t take things nearly as far as Witkin’s more salacious work. Todd/Browning gallery on 5th St at Spring, the host of tonight’s show, is known for carrying books and artworks that appeal to the edgier end of the art set. This exhibit will no doubt continue them on that path.
As I was getting ready to leave, I overheard the owner mention something about an even more scandalous opening that was going on. I was surprised to find that it was a Clive Barker show of paintings and photographs at Bert Green and that it was sure to be an outrageous display.
The show is called Imagining Man, but it leaves little to the imagination. Barker’s photographs are highly charged homosexual images of men in body paint, blood, costumes, or nothing at all in bondage and torture scenes. Though artfully lit and composed, they could be very upsetting for the faint of heart. Models seem to have been selected based on the size of their “equipment” among other criteria. The sign on the door stated no minors were allowed without a parent, for obvious reasons.
Barker also exhibited sketches of skulls, props from his photo shoots and some inspired paintings. No doubt he is a talented painter, and pieces were not unreasonably priced. Prints of the photographs were available in signed limited editions for $300 and signed open editions for $50. Paintings ranged from a few hundred to $8000.
Barker embraces a friend at tonight’s opening.
It will be interesting to see what furor ensues as the conservative crowd catches wind of these two shows. With this month’s Art Walk kicking off tomorrow, thousands will have the opportunity to make their own judgments of the work.