Hespe Gallery, San Francisco
by Richard Speer
Painter Kevin Moore displays impressive photorealist technique in his wide-ranging show, Album, juxtaposing gemütlich still lifes and portraits with uncompromising conceptual studies. The former are gleaned from Moore’s life as a husband and father: a bouquet of orchids he gave his wife on their first anniversary; bottles of Excedrin to relieve pain from the migraines the couple suffer from; and a freeze-frame from one of their son’s favorite computer-animated films, Toy Story. Bridging these halcyon, if literal, works with more symbolic fare is Liger, which depicts Moore’s son wearing a lion costume, standing next to golf great Tiger Woods—a metaphoric portrait of the boy, who is biracial, as part lion, part “Tiger.”
A distinctly different body of work—the paintings Wrap, Aperture, Migraine, and Kiss—does not particularly cohere with Moore’s family-flavored vignettes but shows his promise as an emerging conceptual talent. The paintings show a series of faces tightly covered with shrinkwrap, a conceit suggesting that the ubiquity of consumer culture has found its end in the commodification of human beings. Visually striking, conceptually engaging, these images stand among the show’s strongest. The shrinkwrap creates myriad reflections and light-splitting flecks of green, blue, and mauve, a glittery effect that nicely contrasts with the faces’ distortions: noses pulled askew, eyes forced closed, a pair of lips puckered and warped to the side. Richter-like soft focus offsets the realist’s tendency toward hard edges, while impressionistic dollops of creamy paint telegraph reflected light. With their one-two punch of visceral grotesquerie and social commentary, these works are simultaneously hard to look at and irresistible to the eye.
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