Critics’ Picks

Still from Meals on Wheels, 2006.

Still from Meals on Wheels, 2006.

Los Angeles

Jonathan Pylypchuk

China Art Objects Galleries
6337 Church Street
August 7, 2015–June 6, 2006

Jonathan Pylypchuk returns to moviemaking, an early pursuit, in this show of new works. While a student in the UCLA MFA program, Pylypchuk made four films, the most memorable of which was entitled Shut Your Cockface Up and starred two confrontational hot dogs. Here, the same characters—which possess sticklike arms and legs; crude, pasted-on faces; and sometimes even genitals—appear in three new films: Dating Game, Hey Fuckface this is my nude beach, and Meals on Wheels (all 2006). Pylypchuk remains offscreen, moving the characters with sticks while delivering their lines, turning the exercise into a primitive version of Jungian sand play. Somewhat surprisingly, Meals on Wheels achieves real emotional depth. When a disgruntled volunteer (a plump, youthful frank) delivers a meal to a sickly pepperoni stick, he not only feeds the elderly invalid, but also changes his dirty diaper and bathes him; “Mr. Bojangles” plays softly in the background. The scene is absurdly hilarious, but resentment builds, and when the hot dog finally complains—“I have to wipe your ass like a fucking baby”—the response is, “I’m sixty-three.” After further abuse, the pepperoni asks, “So you’ll come tomorrow at eight?” The unexpected switch generates an amazing amount of pathos. The sets stand as sculptures in the main gallery, complete with rubber versions of the edible stars. These films are a refreshing step away from Pylypchuk’s often heartbreaking, storyboard-like drawings and paintings.