LA Weekly “Pick of the Week” – “Alyson Souza & Bill Barminski”, 2003

Alyson Souza and Bill Barminski at Robert Berman

By Peter Frank.

“Alyson Souza & Bill Barminski” Alyson Souza crowds her painting-objects with information, conceptual and material, until they literally pop off the wall in layers. This is a kind of bricolage storytelling with 19th-century-style anatomical heads, their brain areas cut away to reveal various comical inner workings, wrapped in other visual cues. Among these are elaborately, often poetically worded phrases, moralizing on the human condition (or at least the condition of certain humans). There’s something endearingly shaggy-dog about these info-rich, reference-crammed, work-intensive, backward-looking, childhood-evoking constructions — and something ominous about them as well.

Bill Barminski’s also a moralizer of sorts, as overtly wise-guy as Souza is sly. But Barminski mocks mostly at his own expense this time, turning the social-comment Pop he’s been crankin’ out for years, with its subverted brand logos and its surrealized billboard imagery, back on himself. He accompanies his current slew of begrunged, sabotaged mass-culture quotations with museumlike storyboard panels in which a Dick-and-Jane-ish family walks through the exhibition snarkily trying to make sense of its logy references and bass-ackwards poetry. The self-satire works; Barminski’s gimmick puts the twinkle back in his, and our, eyes.

Alyson Souza and Bill Barminski at Robert Berman
Oct. 31 to Nov. 6, 2003
All at Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Aveune, Santa Monica
(310) 315-1937