Watch & Squirm

“Who ate all of the skittles and threw up on the wall?” was my first reaction as I walked into Bourouina Gallery to check out their latest exhibition, “Dr. Sourmoles in the Land of the Lung Slugs” by Chicago artist Paul Nudd. No, these were not conceptual pieces of upchuck art, as I was relieved to discover. Instead, what greeted me at the door were the intricate silhouettes of five hosts that, despite their grotesque appearance, welcome visitors to take a more intimate look and discover the fine details of their creation.

paul-nuddOne of artist Paul Nudd’s artworks on exhibit at Bourouina Gallery in Berlin. Photo: Chris Phillips

I was surprised to discover the various layers of pigments, glued paper, and graphite used to create the organic flow of these decomposing bodies – making me feel like a forensic scientist on the first day at the job. Spend enough time looking at these works and an odd feeling of empathy for “Dr. Sourmoles” and friends will begin to crawl up on you. Their life-size presence coupled with their atrophied humanoid form makes us remember our own fragility. But, their message is not a bleak one. On the contrary, it’s filled with lushness: their own decomposition and disappearance has brought about new forms of life and growth. Now that is what I call inspiring. 

TV or not TV
The exhibition also displays an installation of several TVs crowding the hallway that leads to the second room.  Sitting on the ground, they invite us to squat before them and watch closely while simultaneously challenging us to keep a straight face while watching the visuals. This challenge is difficult as thick, gooey liquids bubble from unidentified fleshy sphincters (unsettling, I know). Yet, these scenes proved to be only complex scenarios constructed and recorded by the artist. Any fan of John Carpenter’s cult classic film The Thing will find the aesthetic similarities with these works striking, not to mention nostalgic.

Dirty Painting

At the end of the hallway you’ll encounter Nudd’s Dirty series: a number of black and white, large-scale paintings that appear deceitfully simple from a distance but explode into intricate panoramas upon further inspection. What appear as fine-flowing pencil lines reveal to be nothing more than glued strands of hair (trust me, you’d be not surprised at this point) amidst other fluid forms that seem to contract, expand, reproduce, mutate, and ultimately engulf you once you’re close enough. To give you a visual: imagine a Rorschach inkblot test in the mind of a lost ant. If you can’t imagine that, then you’ll have to check out this repulsively attractive exhibition before it’s too late!

  • Bourouina Gallery Paul Nudd: “Doctor Sourmoles in the Land of the Lung Slugs” – Until November 24th 2012, Tuesday to Saturday 11am-6pm  [Works range from €3,000 to €9,000]

Article by Jovanny Varela-Ferreyra