Critics’ Picks

Donna Huanca, Bruised Faux Cils. Cosmetic Painting #8, 2015, eyeshadow, oil on wool, 73 x 55".

Donna Huanca, Bruised Faux Cils. Cosmetic Painting #8, 2015, eyeshadow, oil on wool, 73 x 55".


Donna Huanca and Przemek Pyszczek

Peres Projects
Karl-Marx-Allee 82
June 27–August 8, 2015

Donna Huanca and Przemek Pyszczek both use a saccharine palette to demonstrate the hollowness of individuals’ and institutions’ attempts at masking bleak social realities with superficial glamour and artificial cheer. Just as candy and engineered sweeteners can be unhealthy substitutes for real sustenance, Pyszczek’s metal sculptures and the overly sweet colors in Huanca’s paintings—some made from high-end cosmetics on stretched suit wool rather than paint on canvas—signify the lack of real opportunities for personal expression, community support, and healthy play in many peoples’ lives and environments.

At the opening for their joint exhibition, Huanca invited her collaborative dance troupe to slink through Pyszczek’s welded pipes and forcefully press their naked and painted bodies against the gallery walls, leaving sherbet-colored stains. These imprints match Huanca’s paintings, such as Bruised Faux Cils. Cosmetic Painting, #8, 2015, where iridescent cosmetics against traditional suiting material represent women’s constrained struggles to express sexuality, confidence, and power in a social realm that traditionally identifies feminine forms of expression as flighty and superficial.

Pyszczek’s enormous network of sculptures replicate and reorder jungle gyms from public housing complex playgrounds in his native Poland. His Playground Structure (Grid), 2015, consists of interlocking pipes forming a series of cubes, some of which end in jagged-edged pieces at odds with their inviting pink, mint-green, yellow, and baby-blue coatings. Despite their hazards, they’re also disarmingly human with drips, schmutz, and rough edges proving their handmade origin. Positioned slightly off kilter, these structures invite play but signal danger. Climbing to the top of Pyszczek’s sculptures probably leads to a glass ceiling that is as oppressive as its presentation is pretty.