Critics’ Picks

Rafael Delacruz, Scooge 3, 2015, oil pastel, 11 x 14”.

San Francisco

Quintessa Matranga and Rafael Delacruz

Et al.
620 Kearny Street (beneath Union Cleaners)
January 8–February 13

The rabbit hole of pop apotheosis, where Jerry Garcia, Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Elvis, and the Mad Hatter reside, threatens us with a question: Where do we go from here? Quintessa Matranga and Rafael Delacruz, in their dual exhibition, “100% Stupid,” take on the impossible task of drawing out how one can wrest subjectivity and creativity in the force of unattainable perfection.

Delacruz’s oil pastel drawings simulate the visual tide of the online art-sharing platform DeviantArt. As Jacob Ciocci, a founding member of Paper Rad, attests in the show’s press release, the website serves as a digital town square where amateurs might buoy an artist’s sense of “unique genius,” or pathetic lack thereof. Scooge 3 (all works 2015) suggests the latter, where we see a boyish character sliced in half to reveal oozing green guts. Are we all just slimy garbage behind the flimsy veneer of our artistic moves and aspirations? However, in another drawing, Garbage men are all magicians, seems to offer that the mind’s capacity to transcend reality, inspired or insipid, might undo the stronghold of self-doubt.

Matranga’s “unfinished” paintings exacerbate the relationship to success that many artists struggle with—a desire to go above, beyond, and be stupendous, but without the means (i.e., luck, courage, financial or intellectual resources) to go about it. Thinking About Egypt, in which a pathetic-looking yogic figure dumbly contemplates a pair of pyramids, is hung right next to Evolution, a picture where the evolutionary scale of man is turned up vertically, trapped and stagnating between the upper and lower edges of the canvas. Finally, My boyfriend wants to watch a scary movie shows an adolescent’s diary entry partially obscured by gray hearts and an unfinished drawing of a woman’s face—the artist herself?—bearing a scar above her eye and a wan smirk. Abutting it is Paris, France, a de-skilled sketch of the Eiffel Tower against a fecklessly rendered backdrop of night. Maybe it’s here, in this space of ambivalence, uncertainty, and abjection that—with an openness toward failure coupled with a great deal of love—true creativity and uninhibited subjectivity can thrive.