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Lou Beach's 'Revelations' A Foray Into Multi-Dimensional Magic

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 27, 2014 4:00PM

I would love to enter the mind of Lou Beach, or at least visit the whimsical landscapes he creates, coexisting with the acutely fascinating characters who occupy that space. His exhibition, Revelations, at Firecat Projects is confounding, moving, and unsettling in its complex and multi-textured strangeness. These works are at once darkly funny and slightly disturbing with surreal figures who look aggressive as they embody a silliness and move within coastal and woodsy surroundings, giving them a footing in some semblance of reality.

The depth and texture of the work is facilitated in his use of chromolithographic material, creating a vintage storybook quality. Each one tells a tale that confounds and entices while evoking a humor that is dark as it is light. The covert whimsy of the figures in "Run, Redhead, Run (There's No Ocean in Indiana)" show this dark and light. The "redhead" is being pursued by a bird-headed aggressor. She cries and tries to get away while a skull emerges from a bottle of rum as if it is assisting in the pursuit. Meanwhile, in "Young at Heart (Dr. Kind Rat)" the motion of the tooth-juggling creature with a maniacal smirk is playful in its darkness. There is a kind of pursuit here, too, with the characters in the foreground running away in fear even while the juggler stands still.

The Magritte-like compositions in "Chair Dream" and "End of Days" show Beach's enviable ability to create texture and depth. Chairs hang in the trees while a man quite literally walks with his head in the clouds. Nature permeates the scene while it is an unnatural one. It is serene, though, unlike the rugged dystopian narrative in "End of Days." Again, nature is prevalent here, but so is the destruction of it with the brute figure made of tree trunks and the oil tower in the distance. The torso-less chair looks to be rocking back and forth, again showing the artist's incredible talent in producing motion and texture.

Although this is an exhibition of framed works on paper with cut-outs of some of the intensely memorable characters from the works stickered on the walls, it is hardly one-dimensional or flat. Beach's work turns the gallery into a fanciful playground that actively encourages imaginative musing about the places and things he portrays, asking viewers to be open to new perceptions, to seek their own revelations.

Revelations shows through Sept. 20 at Firecat Projects, 2124 N. Damen Ave.