Critics’ Picks

Gina Beavers, Liz Phair ‘Parasite’ Lips, 2020, acrylic on linen on panel, 30 x 30 x 4".

Gina Beavers, Liz Phair ‘Parasite’ Lips, 2020, acrylic on linen on panel, 30 x 30 x 4".


Gina Beavers

Various Small Fires | Seoul
Dokseodang-ro 79, Yongsan-gu
January 16–March 20, 2021

Early on in Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 film Parasite, the mother of the wealthy Park family leads a prospective tutor on a tour of their luxurious and starchitect-designed estate, which, perhaps like every symbol of success, carries a dark underside. Gina Beavers has aptly chosen this scene—or rather, a piece of fan art depicting it made by the American singer Liz Phair—as a motif in her first solo exhibition in Asia. The eight paintings in the show (whose title winks to motivational economist Adam Davidson’s idea of an emerging “passion economy”) were sourced from online #foodporn and makeup tutorials, imagery Beavers has mined before.

But the artist has been careful to infuse her unmistakable photorealistic relief paintings with local flavor. In Korean Fried Chicken, all works 2020, tiny acrylic crumbs have been added to a meticulously carved facture, replicating crispy batter with hyperreal effect. The Parasite tableau, only recognizable as such after reading the titles (e.g., Liz Phair ‘Parasite’ Nails), has been applied to manicured fingernails, a heavily made-up eyelid, plump lips, and a generous slice of cake being extracted from a buttock: body parts that Beavers has previously embellished with the American flag, a Laura Owens painting, and Maurizio Cattelan’s duct-taped banana.

In an interview last year with the Brooklyn Rail, Beavers said that her approach to digital imagery is “just like the way you go sit in a field and paint a landscape.” Documenting this online world, the artist seems mostly uninterested in judging the human behind the hashtag. Nevertheless, the Park family’s basement—although out of sight in Phair’s Parasite fan art—haunted her aspirational iconography. Like that hidden underground, a river of dangerous desire runs beneath Beavers’s portrayal of modern-day cravings, momentarily fulfilled.