You won’t find Lindsey Carr’s Pavo Simulacrum in Audubon’s The Birds of America. And you won’t find a pulp novel or a vintage burlesque poster quite like Handiedan’s mischievous pin-up girl collages. These two contemporary artists subvert familiar images and styles—naturalist painting for Carr and the pin-up for Handiedan—subtly and whimsically, and they execute pieces of such skill and intricacy that you may find yourself transfixed, enthralled by the magic in the details.
Scottish painter Carr and Amsterdam-based collage artist Handiedan are rising stars in the pop surrealist movement, and their double exhibition, running through May 5 at edgy alternative gallery Roq La Rue (2312 2nd Avenue), will take your breath away. Carr’s “The Augmented Animal” and Handiedan’s “Circulus” could be thought of as separate shows, but there’s a shared lushness and opulence in their work, to paraphrase Roq La Rue’s founder Kirsten Anderson, that makes the joint show a particularly happy accident.
Lindsey Carr draws inspiration for her artwork from the natural beauty of her home in southwest Scotland. That’s not to say that peahens and monkeys roam the glens; rather, nature informs the work of her imagination. Using brilliantly-hued acrylic ink and gold leaf on watercolor paper, Carr captures the feel of old-fashioned natural history paintings while creating a kind of dreamlike bestiary with science fiction undertones. She also brings her fascination with Chinese history to bear in one of her most striking works, Gifts From The Red Barbarians (above), a reference to the Opium Wars. From the monkey’s masklike face to the imagery painted into its elaborate robes to Chinese characters (reading “emperor”), Carr’s masterpiece draws you into the mystery with every exquisite brushstroke.
Hanneke Treffers, better known as Handiedan (a Dutch play on words based on her first name) also injects a certain whimsy into a familiar art style. Handiedan takes burlesque figures and, with a combination of digital wizardry and old-school cutting, reassembles them (“Like Frankenstein!”) into poses. That might be the simplest part. In fact, Handiedan’s finished collages involve so many layers of magazine images, foreign money, stamps, sheet music and even cigar bands poached from her dad’s collection that the surface of the works stands out in relief. A cut-out filigree pattern might weave between many layers. You’ll also find Handiedan’s impish doodled avatar peppered throughout, plus some hand-drawn moustaches on the pin-ups.
Dreamlike and provocative, pop surrealism possesses “a very refined craftsmanship” yet “retains an element of fringe,” to borrow Anderson’s words. Museums haven’t embraced pop surrealism as quickly as collectors have, so galleries like Roq La Rue may be the best venues to discover this visually rich form of contemporary art. For more information, visit http://www.roqlarue.com/.