Los Angeles Corey Helford Gallery will be opening tomorrow Saturday “Cryptotweens Are Like” by American artist Lori Nelson in her debut West Coast exhibition in Gallery 2.
Juxtaposing contemporary expression and classic painting her work, Lori Nelson presents a delightful new body of work populated by bizarre creatures like yetis, werewolves, and scaly tweens, but her subjects are not the freaks and monsters. Underneath their hairy complexions, horns and scales, Nelson’s “Cryptoweens,” as she calls them, are surprisingly like us. Though certainly monstrous, one might even call them “ugly” or “frightening,” Nelson’s wide-eyed characters with flush cheeks lit by their glowing smart phones, also embody a classical beauty. The Brooklyn-based artist originally grew up in Utah in a religious Mormon family and found herself drawn to reproductions of devotional art and photography in her family’s Bible. Often portrayed with their hands clasped in prayer, her characters carry with them the same wishes and devotions as any “normal” human child. For her debut West Coast solo exhibition, titled “Cryptotweens Are Like,” Lori Nelson expands on her cast of freakishly charming tweens in a series of 16 new oil-on-panel paintings. Like one of the horror genre’s most famous characters, the monster of Frankenstein, Nelson’s are also perpetually misunderstood. Born into innocence, we watch as they experience coming-of-age feelings of insecurity, fear and isolation, and first love.
According to Nelson she focuses on “a parallel world with mythological and magical almost-human creatures experiencing very human feelings and in recognizable earthly situations. I am drawn to adolescents as subjects because, for a brief time, they necessarily inhabit a land that is neither childhood nor adulthood, but rather a thorny connective forest that all must stumble through. Forests, we all know, though dangerous and spooky, can also be quite magical. In my recent work, I strive to show my human and semi-human subjects, my “Cryptotweens,” in a precise instance where they are occupying this middle place, at once vulnerable and yet also experiencing power for the first time.
Many of the “Cryptotweens” in this exhibit wear ecstatic expressions on their faces reminiscent of the innocents and saints of traditional religious art when a veil has been lifted and knowledge and divine power revealed. It is this dual aspect of innocence and knowledge that for me defines tween and teenhood.
It’s a look that is not easily described and hence the title for this collection, “Cryptotweens Are Like.” In my mind, the ending for that unfinished sentence would not be a word but rather something unspoken like a facial expression or gesture, an “emoji,” if you will, describing just what it is to be neither here nor there. I wish to capture the fleeting moment before the child emerges from the forest and reality and self-awareness sets upon her.”
“Cryptotweens Are Like” will be opening tomorrow Saturday, May 28 from 7-11pm at Corey Helford Gallery located on 571 S. Anderson St. (Enter on Willow St), Los Angeles, CA 90033. The reception is open to the public and the exhibition is on view through July 2, 2016.
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