I've been trying to come up with a demure way to describe the group show at Stephanie Chefas Projects this month, but nothing polite does it justice. So here goes: Heatwave feels like a hot fuck in the middle of an August afternoon in Los Angeles after you've come home sticky from the beach with the taste of salt still on your tongue.
Meegan Barnes' high gloss ceramic sculptures will call you in from the doorway. The female forms are cut off above their tiny waists and below their sun-kissed thighs, leaving nothing but thong-clad asses that drip gold luster like sweat. The considerable height of the pedestals on which they're displayed plays up the in-your-face sexuality of the pieces because they are, literally, in your face. Normally this would feel heavy handed, but for these pieces it's exactly right. A bottle of suntan lotion and a pair of sunglasses accompanies each form on top of its pedestal, and the objects are glazed to such a shine that the gallery lights glint off of them like the blazing sun.
Kate Klingbeil's paintings of coitus on wood panel lack the male gaze, highlighting the female subjects' pleasure and form. Over flat gouache sunset-colored backdrops, Klingbeil pipes acrylic paint like frosting to create lushly textured figures and flora in the foreground. The combination of food and sex confuses the brain, and the total effect is sweet and dirty, hungry and horny all at the same time.
Monica Kim Garza's naïve tropical paintings on paper offer another contradiction: childlike renderings of fruit trees and smiley-faced suns share compositions with naked figures engaged in carnal acts. The marriage of these elements calls to mind a simpler and freer time, the lusty insouciance of youth before the weight of relationships came bearing down.
It is exceptionally difficult to put together a cohesive group show around a single theme, but Chefas has managed to take work from eight different artists, in a wide range of styles and media, and make it feel like they are speaking to us in a collective voice about the same luscious, sun-soaked idea. I have only touched on the work of three of the artists here, but there are beautiful abstracts, geometrical phenomena, precise paper cuts, and feats of undulation and symmetry waiting to leave you hot and bothered.
See it: Heatwave is at Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave #202, 503-719-6945, through Sept. 3.