Art Review: Einar and Jamex de la Torre at Koplin del Rio Gallery
“Animexican,” Einar and Jamex de la Torre’s third solo show at Koplin del Rio Gallery, is a raucous parade of unlikely icons, sabotaged masterpieces, reconstituted artifacts and cock-eyed renditions of just about anything you can think of.
The brothers, born in Mexico, split their time between Ensenada and San Diego. Their work begins by sending seriousness packing. It continues by skewering art-world shibboleths like good taste and sensible craftsmanship. And it goes on to make scathing fun of the idea that history is sacred, that culture is pure, that identity is stable and that meaning can be passed from one generation to the next without mutating into something no one expected.
Two triptychs set the stage for their voracious cannibalization of official symbols. The first transforms Hans Memling’s 17th-century painting of the Last Judgment into a complex morality tale about the European conquest of Mesoamerica. The second, “El Cakeito,” features a graffiti-covered image of the Buddhist deity Tara, Japanese shop windows packed with fabulous plastic cakes and the brothers’ own poured resin reliefs depicting hungry faces.
The remaining 20 works fall into two groups: tabletop sculptures and wall-mounted pieces that recall traditional religious icons and Aztec reliefs. The De La Torre brothers make both from blown glass and all manner of cheap souvenir trinkets, an unholy alliance that is often hilarious.
Rather than making simple statements that can be easily translated, they go in for a type of Baroque overdose that is the 3-D equivalent of Peter Saul’s terrifically tasteless paintings. You have to see their polyglot confections to believe them. And you probably will still doubt your eyes.
-- David Pagel
“Animexican,” Koplin del Rio Gallery, 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-9055, through Oct. 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.koplindelrio.com
Images, from top: "La Reconquista"; "Mitosis." Credit: Courtesy Koplin del Rio Gallery