Jod Lourie

Stux Gallery

Jod Lourie’s porcelain reliefs grow ever more bizarre, fantastic, and grotesque. Her previous efforts in this medium have addressed the confluence of a repressed Italian Catholic girlhood and emerging female sexuality. Now in her 40s, Lourie appears to have worked through most of that tortured post-adolescent conflict. At midlife she has added a forthright confrontation with death to the heady mating of religion and sex.

In all of these most basic human experiences the self is transformed. In religion, the self is abandoned to spirit; in sex, to the other; in death, to nonexistence. Lourie’s fantasy tableaux reveal the irrational self through a spectrum of fragmented symbolic forms culled from nature, the human figure, and Catholic iconography.

Out-of-scale and dissociated, these elements are arranged in enigmatic groupings, which draw the viewer in on a direct, albeit inexplicable level. In a 1986 work, Eschatos Logos (the Catholic “Last Words” prayer before death), a man’s legs protrude from the jaws of a fearsome crocodile, across whose back and tail are strewn parts of a human skeleton. But has the crocodile captured him, or is he diving in? The viewer is seduced by this ambiguity and by the unabashedly theatrical allusions to death, martyrdom, and ecstatic passion – a process that intriguingly parallels Lourie’s theme of abandoning the self to irrationality.

Lourie’s sensibility is solidly Baroque, recalling Bernini in her expression of impassioned religious emotions and her frontal viewpoint and delicately tinted porcelain (Bernini used white and colored marble). The word “baroque” is partly derived from the Portuguese barrôco—a large, irregularly shaped pearl used in the ornate jewelry of the period–which offers a potent metaphor for Lourie’s elaborate, flamboyant imagery and translucent surfaces.

Nancy Stapen