When Portland art stars defect to Los Angeles (Miranda July, anyone?), it kinda smarts. Which is one reason it's so refreshing that brothers Jacob and Arnold Pander still call Stumptown home, even as they juggle projects in Hollywood. The sons of veteran Northwest painter Henk Pander, Jacob and Arnold sometimes collaborate as the Pander Brothers. As individuals, Jacob is perhaps best known as the filmmaker who, with Marne Lucas, (in)famously co-produced the 1995 arthouse porno The Operation and its 2013 sequel, Incident Energy. Arnold is probably best known for his graphic novel, Tasty Bullet, and his appearance on America's Next Top Model.
The brothers' new exhibition, Fabrication/Corrosion, at Mark Woolley Gallery features artworks that were created separately, although they share a common theme: the allure and dangers of the high life in the City of Angels. In his untitled photographs, Jacob dynamically composes cityscapes that highlight celebrity-centric billboards and scenes of urban decay. He prints these images onto metal plates, accentuating the coldness and hardness of civic architecture and the imposing cladding of the celebrity mythmaking machine.
For his part, Arnold deploys an implicitly ironic medium, black-velvet painting, to deconstruct the illusionism endemic to the film and music industries. His paintings abound with celebrity portraiture: Chris Brown and Rihanna in One Love; Lindsay Lohan in Flash; Justin Bieber in Good, Bad, Ugly; and Kim Kardashian in Prettier. But these aren't pretty images. Beautiful People shows a progression of plastic-surgically mangled youth-seekers: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, comedian Joan Rivers, British pop singer Pete Burns and so-called "Catwoman" socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein.
The crux of both bodies of work is that the personalities we exalt are the stuff of smoke, mirrors and Restylane. One could argue this is all too easy a thesis for generations weaned on Behind the Music. But the materials the brothers use are uniquely suited to their subject matter and manage to make this well-trodden material fresh again. Somewhere between Jacob's unforgiving metal and Arnold's cushy velvet lies a truth about the confounding relationship we have with our idols of the screen and sound booth.
SEE IT: Fabrication/Corrosion is at Mark Woolley Gallery, 700 SW 5th Ave., Suite 4110, third floor, Pioneer Place Mall atrium. Through Sept. 14.