Skyscrapers crawl like roaches. A phoenix flies out of the head of a monk, praying and aflame. Such is the surreal imagery found in the paintings of Myles Williams and Christina Egede, on exhibit in Mammal Gallery’s Peripheral Visionaries, on view through January 24.
Atlantan Williams and Dane Egede have very different aesthetics in terms of color and texture, but both take on the ills and enchantment of urban living.
Egede’s largely black-and-white paintings offer a series of seemingly typical urban motifs such as stacked skyscrapers, subway trains, and bridges over rivers. On closer examination, however, they are very strange. Birds on rooftops sprout human breasts in Our time. The underside of a bridge in The city that bites looks like a human mouth. Egede’s Bug city depicts skyscrapers that have grown legs, buggy eyes, antennas and butterfly wings.
Williams’ glossy, brightly colored paintings are both humorous and provocative. My Most Believable Dream features a Mad Hatter–like image of President George W. Bush peeking creepily through a window with green curtains at wife Laura, who is facing outward and smiling. She is surrounded by distorted versions of cartoon characters, including a butcher-knife-wielding Super Mario, a snakelike Mr. Burns from The Simpsons around her neck and the face of Family Guy’s Stewie on a black widow spider’s body.
In Super Classy, the mash-up of pop cultural icons — such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Trump (in Apprentice mode) and Glinda the Good Witch of the North — offers a new look at familiar imagery.
Both artists suggest that their subjects are too big for the canvases that hold them. Egede’s urban landscapes look squished, and Williams’ scenes look as if the stories continue beyond the borders.
Williams’ painted newspaper box holding issues of Creative Loafing standing in the center of the gallery contributes to the urban vibe. Even in their most abstract moments, the paintings in Peripheral Visionaries also reflect their surroundings, both the gritty downtown neighborhood and the charmingly grungy makeshift gallery, which founders Brian Egan and Chris Yonkers describe as a DIY art space. If the artists seem similarly “emerging” rather than fully established, they both possess an aesthetic and outlook that bode well for the future.