LA Weekly 9/23 – 9/30 1999

ART PICK OF THE WEEK

Art Review of Alex Grey exhibition
Rico Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

ALEX GREY

Alex Grey commands a stunningly exacting technique, painting with the precision and detail of a cartographer or anatomical draughtsman. Indeed, he maps the human body in nearly every rendering, turning the skin transparent and depicting vessels and viscera in place, whether the body in question is standing up or lying down, giving birth or dying, copulating or discoporating. (To add to the visible-man/woman spectacle, just put on the special specs, and everything pops into 3-D.) Grey is a fervid psychedelophile, and his vision conflates religious, non-religious and post-religious belief into an extended hyperspiritual trip. Panels from two multiptychs, “Nature of Mind” and “Sacred Mirrors,” anchor the show (which also includes several individual paintings, a drawing series, and an MPEG video concerning a chapel project to house one or both the multiple works). All this mind-blowing imagery can seem naggingly factual one minute, transporting and otherworldly the next. Is Grey a transcendent genius? Or is he a metaphysical Norman Rockwell, literalizing experiences and states of being whose essential ineffability resists depiction? Something in between, and he’s damned good at it.

–Peter Frank