Friday, December 7, 2007

Un chandelier pas comme les autres

Hanging overhead, "El Chandelier" is a wonder to behold. A six-foot tall chandelier crawling with thousands of tiny knickknacks, the work glitters against the ceiling and is breathtaking in its degree of detail. A source of light and humor, the bulbs of "El Chandelier"are surrounded by little plastic palm trees, tassels, kewpie dolls, and golden cups. Squirt guns, fake pearls, dominoes, toy cars, miniature bowling pins, and an assortment of plastic animals - swans, giraffes, monkeys, rhinos - drip from every available surface. Dangling from golden perches are plastic babies. Above them, small girl dolls mingle with plastic white doves.

El Chandelier (The Chandelier) by Pepon Osorio, 1988. Mixed media; 78 x 48 inches in diameter.

In Osorio's quirky hands, scarlet fingernail extensions become bright spots of color in a dazzling, suspended gem. While lush with items from popular culture, the work's exuberance veils a deeper seriousness. Dizzy in its abundance, the sadness of "El Chandelier" is the sadness of a people who often lack the most basic of modern necessities such as money, health care, and access to education. An assault of cuteness, the work celebrates the beauty of kitsch and carnival while underlining the way in which an overblown or "tacky" aesthetic can be a critique of the prevailing and often puritan tastes of a dominant culture. In sharp contrast to the crisp corners and stark white walls of the wealthy galleries in which it is often shown, the accumulation of hand-glued objects in "El Chandelier" seems purposefully out of place - Art 21

PepĆ³n Osorio b.1955, La Cama (The Bed) 1987, Mixed Media Installation

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