By Phillip Valys, SouthFlorida.com
4:17 PM EST, November 8, 2013
In Lluis Barba's pop-art photographs, Elvis Presley dances in the unruly hair of Andy Warhol, Homer Simpson sits on the chin of Salvador Dali, and a sunbathing model crawls across the infamous unibrow of Frida Kahlo.
Barba's fusion of art and celebrity may seem amusing, if not whimsical, but there are more-serious undertones at work in his "Self-Portrait" and "Travelers in Time" series, on view at Boca Raton's Baker Sponder Gallery starting Thursday until Jan. 4.
"Lluis thinks of these as a critique of contemporary society, about consumerism and identity," gallery curator Cristin Longo says of the seven works on display. "He picks these artists because they were very important in the evolution of art."
Barba's photo collages, which he calls "digital graphics," depict black-and-white images of master painters, each flanked by digital color cutouts of strangers pointing cameras, which Longo describes as "tourists more interested in a celebrity than a masterwork painting." One of the three collages from his "Travelers in Time" series, meanwhile, dots Rene Magritte's famous "Golconda" painting of identical men wearing bowler hats with celebrities, art gallery owners and socialites.
"We're not supposed to know who all these people are. It's meant to be esoteric," says Barba, who lives in Spain. "It really does comment on how the art world does isolate itself from the rest of general society."
Accompanying Barba's photos are 10 resin sculptures from Italy's Mauro Perucchetti, whose works include a series of red, magenta and purple heart-shaped grenades. The 5-foot-tall purple grenade weighs about 1,200 pounds, according to gallery director Beverly Cuyler.
"Mauro likes to say that his grenades signify either a lot of love or a lot of damage," Cuyler says.
On nearby pedestals are seven displays from Perucchetti's multicolored "Jelly Baby" series. On one pedestal, a trio of red, purple and green Jelly Babies stand 5 feet tall. Another features the piece "Three Politicians," depicting a set of blue, yellow and red jelly babies sitting cross-legged while covering their ears, eyes and mouths.
"It's beautiful, colorful, glossy resin. They look like they belong in a candy store," Cuyler says. "Mauro is seducing you with eye candy. He's really showing you the issues that society has, such as mass production and human cloning. They just have these plastered-on smiles. There's definitely a bit of irony here."
If you go
What: Lluis Barba and Mauro Perucchetti works on exhibit
When: Thursday through Jan. 4 (free opening reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday). Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Where: Baker Sponder Gallery, 608 Banyan Trail, Boca Raton
Contact: 561-241-3050, BakerSponderGallery.com
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