If you have ever been mooned before, we suspect the culprit would have been a younger sibling or rowdy classmate, but probably not George Washington. If you are not ready to be mooned by the founding father of this nation we suggest you turn back now. Erin Cosgrove renders America's most legendary leaders as ancient deities — fiery, grotesque and lacking the stuffy sartorial elegance for which they are often known.
Far from the squeaky clean depictions we see of Abe and the gang in history books, Cosgrove creates polychrome wooden sculptures that riff off Ancient Assyrian bas-reliefs, Japanese Yokai, gothic grotesques, and Himalayan Buddhas. Equipped with bulging, bloodshot eyes, sagging multicolored flesh and an apparent appetite for stepping on those beneath them, our country's father figures are brutish, infantile and yet dazzling. Dubbed Urfathers (Ur meaning "first" or "primal"), the fired-up rulers are satirized through an accompanying video, narrated PBS-style.
Through this refracted lens of terror, power, and humor, Cosgrove's works tend to look like the result of a Picasso image mating with a character from Aaahh Real Monsters. In other words, both childish and volatile.
Cosgrove, a Los Angeles native who trained under John Baldessari, tackles political themes while keeping her distance from the tired political rhetoric that plagues bumper stickers and awkward conversations. She has also kept her sense of humor painfully sharp throughout her career, as evidenced in works like "The Big Dick Contest." In this piece, the artist took out a personal ad in a German paper asking "why the men in Germany all act like big dicks, but fall anatomically short," and documented the response.
Check out works from Cosgrove's "In Defense of Ghosts" at Angles Gallery in Los Angeles until October 27, 2012.
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