Meeting Ray Caesar is almost as mysterious as trying to decipher the personal symbols and emotions coded within his acclaimed work. His gentle demeanor betrays no signs of pretense or bravado. Instead, there is a warm, gifted man peering behind the piercing blue eyes mirrored in all the portraits lining the walls of Jonathan LeVine gallery. In many ways, Caesar’s new work retains the signature markings of the past; his female figures appear confident, pocket watch cases lie popped open in the ruffles of the finest dresses, and the vibrant, seaside shades of teal and blue glow throughout many of the works.
The new works in ‘A Gentle Kind of Cruelty’ reveal Caesar’s milk-skinnedfigures outside of the confines of their luxurious homes and out “hunting” inthe world, although their prey remains out of view and unnamed. A few of thefigures are sheathed in fox hunting gear as they cart their young across ice orstand nobly, as if posing for a royal portrait. Equipped with long knives against their thighs and bearingtheir sharp teeth and nails, the figures appear murderous and yet gentle intheir beautiful clothes and perfectly coifed, ghost colored hair. They appear huddled in the back seat of wallpapered cars and seem to have lost theirsense of gravity as they levitate and tumble through the air. The most notabledifference is the inclusion of a soft, out of focus blurring and painterly atmospheremaking the digital works appear hand-painted. These new inclusions andtechniques seem to further the spell-bound narrative as the viewers step deeperinto the supernatural wonderland of Caesar.
L to R: Samantha Levin, Jeremy Hush, Heather Gargon, Esao Andrews, Adam Wallacavage
Ladies of LeVine.
In contrast to the strange, highly detailed, Victorian landscapesof Caesar’s work, Erik Mark Sandberg’s neon hued portraits and dizzyingabstract paintings hypnotize viewers in the next room. THe odd figures wearing graphic clothingreminiscent of 80’s and 90’s fashions are completely covered in coarse fur. Thetechnique of paint application on many of the works shows a interestinglayering effect, under paintings of an image appears peeking through the manylayers of paint and resin to create the final, mask-like image.
Jonathan LeVine and Erik Mark Sandberg