ARTFORUM Critics' Pick by Natasha Young

Critics' Pick! Ariana Papademetropoulos: The man who saved a dog from an imaginary fire

‘spirit of Elvis be my sugar daddy,’ 2017, oil on canvas, 60 x 60"

‘spirit of Elvis be my sugar daddy,’ 2017, oil on canvas, 60 x 60"

Los Angeles

Ariana Papademetropoulos
WILDING CRAN GALLERY
939 South Santa Fe Avenue, Unit A
September 16–October 26

Los Angeles–based artist Ariana Papademetropoulos recasts the cult of domesticity as hallucinatory fantasy: Watermarks tear Lynchian portals into her oil-on-canvas re-creations of photos depicting retro-kitsch interiors. A bedroom suffocated with royal-purple floral fabric appears in psychedelic relief in Best thing about not dating a scientologist is that I can do acid again (all works 2017). A bile-green aperture is superimposed over a bathroom with gaudy wallpaper, golden drapery, and a porcelain throne—rather unlike the one Presley died in—for ‘spirit of Elvis be my sugar daddy.’ In this lineup, Holy Water is a breath of fresh air: The watermark disintegrates the walls of a grand venue, opening it up to a misty mountainscape; chandeliers hang from the blue gauze sky; the empty theater seats are turned away from the natural splendor.

On a platform upholstered in plush magenta, Women Running Away From Houses displays an array of gothic romance novels whose covers portray women escaping from mansions, villas, and castles. A shrunken doorway in the gallery leads into a space reminiscent of a bedroom (Secret of Pale Lover), evoking the illusions of growth and shrinkage endemic to any acid trip. Here is a giant tennis racquet, a leveled bed with swan-shaped posts and mussed satin sheets, and a tiny chair. A ladder leads not to a window or an exit but to a vanity mirror, and a vintage exercise bike is poised near a TV encased in mossy plastic stone—a nod to Pippa Garner’s absurdist installation Thoughtspace, 1984. The tube plays a film of the artist exploring a mansion in a giant hamster ball. As Richard Lovelace wrote: “Stone walls do not a prison make / Nor iron bars a cage.”

https://www.artforum.com/picks/id=71506