Allison Edge "Wonderwall"

Like the Spice

poster for Allison Edge "Wonderwall"

This event has ended.

"Wonderwall" depicts male actors, models, and the artist's friends who fall under the category of the "pretty boy". The show raises questions pertaining to the act of drawing, and portraiture, as well as of feminine agency and the power of the gaze.

There are portraits that hang in museums and on gallery walls, portraits meant to evoke something special about their subjects, to pay homage to someone's beauty or to capture something fundamental about a personality. In these portraits, the personal significance of the act of depicting the subject is overshadowed by emphasis on the final product, whether it captures beauty or is an accurate representation. Then there's another kind of "portraiture", one that anyone with an affinity for drawing who's ever been in grade school is familiar with. These are portraits made by young boys and girls of their crushes, whether they be celebrity heart-throbs or that boy or girl in Chemistry class. In this type of portraiture, portrait-making becomes a kind of devotional practice for the painter; the emphasis here is on this act as opposed to the final image. In her series "Wonderwall", Allison Edge displays these pictorial love letters in Like the Spice gallery. Her portraits are both evocative finished products and documents of an obsessive quest to capture an ephemeral moment of youth.

Edge's doe-eyed "pretty boys" stare out at the viewer in blue, brown and gray. They look like the nubile boys who grace the pages of magazines marketed to teenage girls--objects to be admired for their superficial beauty. With their come-on stares and posturing for affection, Edge's subjects seem feminized, an effect enhanced by Edge's rendering them in delicate watercolors. "Wonderwall" flips the patriarchal dynamic famously outlined by Laura Mulvey on its head. It begs the question: is female objectification of men in the age of Justin Beiber justifiable, or is it just a perpetration of the same crime committed by the patriarchy (or perhaps both)? She probes the specific nature of the "pretty boy" who is, perhaps, asking to be objectified.

More than just grounds for discourse on the “patriarchy”, these portraits are the product of an obsessional attempt to capture a fleeting moment in time, to freeze these pretty boys in a state of in their state of innocence. Compelled to make these portraits over the course of more than a decade, Edge’s quest to capture the ephemeral betrays a longing for that delicate and fraught moment between childhood and adulthood. The feminine delicacy of Edge’s Wonderwall subjects is a symbol of this tender lost innocence.

Like the teenager who lovingly draws a portrait of her crush in the back of her notebook, Edge is obviously enamored with these objects of worship. In this exhibition the Wonderwall series is displayed in a temple of nostalgia for an ideal of youth, beauty, and fleeting innocence. From within their shrine-like space, Edge’s pretty boys make us ponder the nature of the “crush”, the meaning of beauty, and what’s at stake in rendering and gazing upon the image of another.



from December 10, 2010 to February 06, 2011

Opening Reception on 2010-12-10 from 18:30 to 21:30


Allison Edge

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