In her first installation, titled “Panna III,” Tamara Gonzales gathers together a cross section of feast rituals given to those who have “dropped the body.” The entire effect here is one of subdued joy, as the work is organized around altars to Shiva adorned with lush fruits, eggs, and water; to the Virgin Mary with her flowers; and to America’s smiley face, the everlastingly affect-less symbol that repaved America’s psychic roads, which is given a place of honor in this community “puja” party. The sheer sense of comfort and exuberance is accomplished through addition and repetition: Christmas lights, balloons, and party favors all gather around the floor and up the walls and provide glittering effects. Meanwhile, life-sized figures of balloons, painted with the third eye and toothy smiles, sit on chairs with their tongues hanging out, waiting for nourishment. Gonzales’s paintings, around which this installation is organized, are made with an improvisatory approach that incorporates the jetsam of fragments from yoga, Christianity, and even the Dr. Seuss book I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew. Gonzales thus engagingly explores a large subject here: the cross-pollination of objects by cultures for their own set of regenerative concepts, where the dead outnumber the living by a wild margin.
At Cheryl Pelavin Gallery, March 14 – April 29
Rachel Youens is a painter, writer, and teacher who lives in Brooklyn.