Race, gender and sexuality are definitely some of today's hottest topics. While many approach it the subjects on tip-toe, skirting around offensiveness and pledging to the PC altar, queer artist Nolan Hendrickson confronts you with a freak show.
Many approach 'inferior' minority groups with the normalizing trope 'we're just like you.' Hendrickson's work says something similar yet opposite: 'we're all a bunch of freaks.' In his shocking paintings, race and gender are mixed and matched as if in a very dirty flip book.
A pageant-ready white girl's face gives way to a hairy black belly and bulging neon jock strap. Giant bodies sprout baby heads, and flesh is not just black or white but green, red, blue, or sometimes a bit of each. Private parts are far from the perviest things on the plate; personally, we're freaked out by the characters' cockeyed gazes. Hendrickson's paintings, with irreverent humor and a strange twist on childlike simplicity, welcome you to the freak show.
The images take flatness to a new level. By shirking the black and white dichotomy but working in two dimensions, Hendrickson seems to suggest that issues of identity are not complicated but complex. The world is simple and colorful: we're all in the same boat, or, rather, carnival tent. This super-flat, super-saturated world, where whipping it out is as regular as playing Connect Four -- (we swear we see Connect Four in the background there somewhere) -- makes us proud to be freaks.
Noland Hendrickson's new exhibition, NEW NEW FACE, will show at Ramiken Crucible from January 20- March 9. Let the paintings bring out the freak in you.
Take a look at the slideshow below and tell us what you think: offensive or awesome?