I had never wanted to hug intestines until I saw Marina Vendrell Renaut’s knitted sculptures at Johansson Projects, part of a group show called Flaming Furbelows. There were eviscerations, udders and other mammalian pudenda hanging like stalactites from the gallery ceiling. Undoubtedly, they’re meditations on the love/hate/grossness we feel towards our innards. And Renaut employs reduce-reuse-recycle tactics like a good citizen. But you just can’t get past how fun the pieces must have been to make. Imagine sweater heaven at the Salvation Army, combined with flea market furs and afghans. Grandma would turn in her grave if she saw the oversized tentacled sock monkey called Coochie Boo Hoo, and her phallus-enhanced tea cozies fitted over remote-control toy cars. But the cherry on top are the five bissected marmots, above. Pull the tassels and they croon lullabies like ghoulish mobiles.
Unfortunately, Renault’s humorous touchables make the paintings on the walls — by Kate Tedman and Eric Siemens, working collaboratively here as “Kate Eric” — look fussy and cold by comparison. The pair must love watching the Discovery Channel. Tiny alien hybrids of bugs and fish alternately war, screw and puke in heavily impastoed acrylic on paper. The technique is as precise as a Dungeons and Dragons drawing, so that you have to examine each monster up close. The animal violence provides a stark contrast to the jellyfish-like silks billowing through the compositions. But ultimately, between chopped up animals and light existential drama, the artists are well-paired, echoing each other in mutually controlled chaos.
Flaming Furbelows runs through May 2.
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