‘Grotesque Histories’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Grotesque Histories” presents the work of three artists who deploy iconographies based in history, both ancient and recent, to address the current world condition. The show will be held at the BRIC Rotunda Gallery, 33 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, July 2-August 8 with an opening reception July 2 from 7-9 p.m.

Each artist projects a distinct visual style, but all draw upon grotesque visual forms to express pointed, often passionate statements about recent history and political memory. Relying on recognizable allusions to activate the collective consciousness of their audiences, these artists reconstruct identifiable signs of popular culture and mass media to draw attention to the absurdities of history, politics, religion, and society.

A leading figure in the Chicano art movement, painter and printmaker Enrique Chagoya, employs a visual vocabulary that synthesizes pre-Columbian iconography, American popular culture, and art historical references as a means of shifting power relations and rethinking political hierarchies.

Brooklyn-based Aaron Johnson incisively critiques contemporary American society, from politics to religion, by applying a filter of eastern mysticism to expose garish portrayals of legendary Western icons.

Miguel Luciano, also of Brooklyn, examines the uneasy colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

The grotesque simultaneously evokes disgust and empathy, intertwines with natural forms, and dissolves into the bizarre and the fantastic. During the Renaissance and leading into the 17th century, artists often subverted grotesque forms into their visual imagery to symbolize cultural decay or deterioration, vices, the devil, and other unknown evils. The resulting forms are at once both starkly humorous yet disturbing.

The artists in “Grotesque Histories” employ similar concepts to address their concerns for the current state of political and social affairs.

The gallery is open 12-6 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. For more, visit or call 718-875-4047.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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