Visual Arts


Too often, looking at sculpture — spying on a silent figure unaware of our voyeurism — is a static endeavor. But the blown glass and multimedia sculptures in "Figurate Esto," influenced by Catholicism, American consumerism, and Mexican folk art, are much more engaging. In many ways, the works by brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre react to us.

Wildly colorful, figuratively menacing, and totally in your face — with a cutting, humorous edge — every work in this show at Lisa Sette Gallery is made of glass, and the medium's ever-present fragility counteracts the aesthetic boldness. The combo makes for a shy and cautious viewing experience, at first. But once you're brave enough to face them head-on, you're greeted with characters who stare right back.

Robo Malverde is a pink angel wearing blue slippers. Standing bent over with his naked little butt poking out, he looks forward with a sassy white-gloved hand raised to his puckered mouth. His green, saucer-sized eyes bulge in surprise, making clear his naughty "oopsy!" pose. Here, the brothers have their way with this religious symbol, playfully perving it out a bit. There's no confusion about the gender of this little guy because the artists included an exaggerated, rose-colored, flaccid wiener dangling from his groin. These brothers are definitely raunchy — they added a blue butthole and erect nipples. This little guy could easily offend someone, but with his gesture of faux shock, he's preemptively mocking your surprised reaction.

Que me Vez? looks like a Mayan or Aztec calendar. Just like the other pieces, the circular pattern has a disco-club palette of bright colors. The centerpiece is a hideous grimacing face with a large tongue sticking out; it's as if time is teasing you. It's circled by colorful glass imprints of what look like factory toy molds. Embedded in the glass are cheap-looking trinkets like dominoes, bugs, cars, and dice. Seeing this work made me think of just how much junk is piling up on this planet — and it's clear that the brothers are fascinated by it.

Anime is my favorite work and definitely takes religious imagery to a whole new level. This wall piece is the same size as a church wall decoration that might hold a votive candle. But its shape screams "vagina." The lips are made of a gorgeous, salmon-colored glass with orange and yellow flames licking up each side. They are covered with stickers of Japanese anime cartoon characters — like the ones you could buy in a grocery store vending machine. And, oddly, there is a plastic female anime figurine placed right where the clitoris would be. Surrounding these flaming lips is a series of glass borders that resemble the full body halo around the stereotypical image of El Virgen de Guadalupe. The piece is a playful mishmash of sexual energy, Mexican Catholicism, and cheap, disposable toys.

Definitely glass half-full. At least.

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Lilia Menconi
Contact: Lilia Menconi