Of Flies And Women

Last Friday night, NYC Art Parasites swooped down to myplasticheart, a vinyl toy store/art gallery, for the opening of its latest exhibition, “Lush Natura,” a dual show featuring the work of Tatiana Suarez and Jason Levesque. The exhibition consists mostly of lusciously rendered, imaginatively invented, female figures juxtaposed against cockroaches, fruit flies and other “lesser loved fauna.” Even with all the buzz, we got a chance to meet both artists and pop a few questions—not to mention indulge in all the eye candy!

What (F)lies Beneath

Tucked away in a casual yet quirky toy store, Suarez and Levesque’s cartoonish characters made themselves at home. Suarez is known for her doe-eyed divas—all her figures don a huge pair of glassy eyeballs, embellished with full, fluttering eyelashes—which she accredits to childhood influences like Tim Burton and Disney princesses. Her figures are ethereal, dreamy, even mystic, and stylized with vivacious strokes and vibrant colors created through a range of mediums like watercolor, acrylic, oil, and charcoal.

"Swarm" by Tatiana Suarez. Photo: Melissa Bartucci

A crowd favorite was “Clutch,” an oil painting depicting a doe-eyed red-haired woman with clusters of larvae eggs growing on the figure’s green-tinged skin. The medium served the artist well, as her color gradients were smooth as licorice.

"Clutch" by Tatiana Suarez. Photo: Melissa Bartucci

Although depicted in different settings and personas, all of Suarez’s characters seem to have the same physical features, as if it was the same woman re-imagined, again and again. Suarez, however, revealed that, in her process, she sees each character as a different woman. Yet somehow, each of her ventures leads to the similar-looking character—perhaps something more subconscious is at play here.

"Roach" by Jason Levesque. Photo: Melissa Bartucci

Levesque complements Suarez with a clean linear style and an affinity for ink and prints. Instead of doe eyes, Levesque’s female figures have pupil-less eyes and oozing sclera (the white part of the eye). With the use of different live models, each of Levesque’s characters has distinct physical features, making his women appear slightly more realistic than those of Suarez. He draws inspiration from scientific news and documentaries, even listening to podcasts as he works.

"Carrison Crow" by Jason Levesque. Photo: Melissa Bartucci

But here's what bugs me: while the works are imaginative and skillfully executed, they lack substance beyond the surface. A beautiful woman posed with a creepy-crawly—what of it? The juxtaposition makes merely for an arbitrary mixture of subject matter, rather than a thought-provoking one. The exhibition was certainly lush, certainly natural, but nothing more. Maybe even a little bit gross in content but even an effect of disgust was elusive. The works provide a quick visual sugar rush, but not enough to sit in the stomach.

  • myplasticheart – “Lush Natura” by Tatiana Suarez & Jason Levesque – May 24th to June 23rd, 2013 – Tue-Sat: 12pm-7pm, Sun: 12pm-5pm [Price range of works: $150-1000]

Article by Maggie Wong