May 02, 2010 | Comments 0
Mayday - The international definition for a distress call; a day of celebration or political demonstration. In this newest show by Los Angeles Artist Shark Toof, Mayday at De La Barracuda on Melrose Ave, the title is apropos. Shark Toof presents a visual celebration of human and political stories of adversity that ultimately surface as a personal journey of ourselves.
The experience begins as you enter into the show through a towering shanty assemblage made of wood decorated in a colorful image quilt of Shark Toof imprints and iconography. The imprints, which occur throughout the show in differing mediums include beautifully illustrated drawings, paintings, stencils and retro comic book like scenes of heroism, love and life in the throws of doom and recovery. The large shanty foyer is gateway int the world of Shark Toof’s vision of the world.
As you initiated past the gateway you travel deeper into the exhibit and you are are faced with a wall of stacked illustrated blocks constructed into the form of a pyramid. Each block upon closer inspection tell’s it’s own rich story. I could not help but think of a metaphor for the levies of Katrina this block wall may have represented knowing the vulnerable shanty village just behind it. But just as this thought passed and as I stared closer at it the tower morphed into a monument of triumph celebrating the stories of our human condition. Perhaps it was also a facade of what we hide, cover and disguise The work supports this in itself by masking the the harsh emotions that life can present to us a beautifully illustrations, colorful motif’s and likable characters. But underneath is the the story with deep meaning if you are willing to see it.
The shanties like the blocks were vibrant and full of life. They are presented at different viewing levels and different heights, like in life each with it’s own hierarchy. I sensed Shark Toof’s kinship, appreciation and sympathy for these these stricken areas. There is a vulnerable an delicate nature to the work. Even the way the show is constructed I was cautious as not to accidental bump of a piece may bring the work tumbling down giving them adding to the effect. I also found it interesting how each appears like the iconic shark head Shark Toof is so well known for. He infuses himself into the work and becomes one with the plight.
Just hovering above the shanty town is the largest of the works and his signature symbol: The sharks. Again in this piece Shark Toof demonstrates a narrative of overcoming adversity. The narrative show the sharks traveling from left to right. On the right we are presented with the struggle of life, the shark being “in the red”, imprinted by the advertisements and coupon leaflets from stores typically in low income neighborhoods. Then the shark on the right lies in the green, the color of money, or nature..our our more natural state. A place where the grass is greener. Green means go. This is the place where the breakthrough is made. The place where adversity is overcome.
I recommend checking the show out and allow for time because there is a lot to see.
Shark Toof / Mayday!
De La Barracuda
7769 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
For more Shark Toof, check out his site at http://www.sharktoof.com