Rainforest Cafe
3407 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90065, United States
Saturday, June 1 at 6:00 PM 9:00 PM
Ends Jul 6, 2024
Guerrero Gallery is proud to present Rainforest Cafe, a group exhibition curated by Higinio Martinez, featuring works by twenty artists hailing from Los Angeles and beyond. For many, the words Rainforest Cafe still ring with a warm and hazy nostalgia, recalling bites of chicken fingers and quesadillas punctuated by a recurring simulated thunderstorm and a canopy of recorded bird sounds on loop. Rainforest Cafe still remains as an archetypal example of the immersive themed restaurant–a space that eschewed white linen table cloths and chandeliers, for faux vine-covered ceilings, animatronic animals, and a talking tree named Tracy. However, there’s no amount of “Python Pasta'' that can assuage the letdown as our jaded selves are forced to reckon with the naive illusion that forms that jungle themed restaurant–a honed tool of hyper-capitalism that uses an elaborate naturalistic set and a veneer of conservationism to hawk mediocre food and overpriced merchandise to tourists. Yet through this whole charade, therein still lies the deeply human impulse to represent the natural world as a means of reflection and connection–an impulse that was shared by the creators of the restaurant chain and similarly runs through the works of all the artists featured within Rainforest Cafe the exhibition. Depictions of the natural world date back to the beginning of humankind and artistic expression, and the desire to depict spaces and beings that are outside of our species and realms of knowledge have never waned. Yet as can be expected from such a collection of artists, the varying approaches employed by these artists are wide and far reaching. For many, the animal form in all of its manifestations becomes a site for investigation, play and projection. Nina de Creeft Ward’s raku-fired ceramic sculptures are saturated with a quiet empathy and gravitas–the artist’s “Bluebuck ‘You Will Always Be With Me’”, features the bust of this now extinct animal, its head turned and eyes closed in a delicate almost slumber-like pose. Maija Peeples-Bright’s ceramics on the other hand, glow with an effervescent energy as googly eyed animals with mouths agape interact with other similarly goofy beings such as in “Bat Snail”. At the far end of this spectrum is Thomas Linder’s “The Colosseum”, in which a gigantic cowhide has become a substrate for a trompe l'oeil pool table that follows the natural contours of this pelt–a surreal juxtaposition that’s both emotionally evocative and deeply confounding. Similarly, another grouping of artists tends towards materiality, form and more abstract means as a way to unpack and explore our natural world. Ben Quinn’s “Spirit of a Snail (Nature Painting 001)” features a verdant and immersive field of greens and browns punctuated by an inkjet print of a snail hovering in the middle of the composition, while Matthew Sweesy builds materially rich and chunky oil paintings on wood that call forth fauna and atmospheric occurrences. Lara Karadogan creates carved clay compositions that are then painted to accentuate and interspersed with arrows and other language that contrasts the organic undulating forms. While Julianne Lee’s “A Cloud Forest at Lava Lake” employs six lava rocks arranged in a grid on a canvas bag in which they were collected, all enveloped and emanating a custom scent created by the artist from essential oils and synthetic aromamolecules–a deceptively simple piece which leads viewers on an open-ended journey via olfactory and sculptural means.
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