Critics’ Picks

View of “Paul Pescador: Ajar,” 2018.

View of “Paul Pescador: Ajar,” 2018.

Los Angeles

Paul Pescador

2616 Crestmoore Pl.
January 13–March 30, 2018

The traffic light has flashed to green, but Paul Pescador lingers at the intersection. It’s no wonder, when there’s a slobbering beagle pawing at the steering wheel, a newly sprouted commercial strip mall out the window, or an unread message chirping in his phone’s Grindr inbox. For this thoughtful, site-specific installation, the artist has piled heaps of postcards in the gallery, a champagne-colored Ford Crown Victoria that drives visitors around Los Angeles. This accumulated paper clutter, a series titled “Ajar,” 2018, recounts six divergent fictional episodes staged by the artist that take place in, on, and around the vehicle. These anecdotes unfold in fragmented, written installments documenting the odd incidents and quiet errands that become fraught with our desires, fears, neuroses, and erotic fantasies, feelings that eventually come to settle in the trunk or on the dashboard.

Dollar-store schlock photographed in the car populates the reverse of the scattered cards, where cheap puppets and stuffed animals cavort over the mobile gallery’s faded beige interiors. On one particularly salacious entry, Ajar 1, a gelatinous fuchsia figure grazes what appears to be a severed prosthetic limb, and on another card, the specter of a toy creature casts a menacing shadow on the back seat. Dramatically lit, these knickknacks come alive with the vehicle as their stage. Visitors likewise animate the space as they squeeze into the back seat or take over the driver’s seat to view this pliable paper assemblage.

Pescador’s outlandish stories and imagery are spliced into the conventional experience of riding in a car, addressing a site that is at once intimate and exposed, personalized and generic, lonely and essential to accessing companionship. The artist proposes that this particular mode of private transportation is not merely a means of transition but also a locus of pleasure, pain, and awakening.