Utopia can be bought and sold. Paradise goes by many names but "all inclusive package" is the most popular these days. A Caribbean Island cleans up well. For a moderate price, the 3rd World can be swept away for a few miles allowing the vacationer a space to relax without a single prick to the conscious.
Painter Melissa Loop's exhibition Jet-setter Hideaways at Soo Vac this month questions the facade of idyllic landscapes and hidden paradises, digging up traces of what may be looming underneath. Loop’s paintings portray wondrous mountain landscapes topped with modern marvels of architecture, or luxurious hotels getaways set on relaxing beaches where tranquility and fun prevail. These are the things that sell on a travel poster. We all want a place where we can step out of our lives and spend a little time in heaven. On a very shallow level, it could be easy to get sucked into the beauty of this, but there is something uncomfortable lurking under the surface.
When we step closer at Loop's over-the-top images of nirvana, we experience something much grittier. These paintings, made on rough wood, are covered with intentional imperfections. The textures are rough and there is rawness to the surfaces, with flecks of paint and areas of un-sanded wood grains. It is as if the disparities of the vistas portrayed have manifested themselves subtly. The promise of flawlessness begins to read as a sad ghost of optimism.
The colors Loop favors on these pieces are bright but not optimistic. Instead the palate is sticky sweet and more than slightly nauseating. It’s reminiscent of cheap candy. You can literally see these grotesque waves of color excitement looming in the skies and weaving through the buildings. Is this implied fun or the stains left from food coloring, sugar and fat? These colors also manifest as on the edges of the paintings as graphic patterns that remind us of postcard advertising or corporate branding.
It is this mix of beauty and the grotesque that makes these paintings so successful. The subtly used by Loop makes you initially want to embrace the beauty, but then back off when the reality of the images sinks in.
Melissa Loop is a painter whose level of depth is so apparent visually that you are probably wasting your time reading this.
Go see the show at Soo Vac!
On View: September 10th, 2011 – October 23rd, 2011
Where: SOO Visual Arts
Address: 2638 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Gallery Phone: 612.871.2263
Hours: Wednesday - Friday 11-7pm and Saturday - Sunday 10-6pm.
September 10 - October 23
Soo Visual Arts Center
2638 Lyndale Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55408