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Eva Lake
'Targets' at Augen Gallery
Review by Richard Speer


Eva Lake, 'Target No. 28 (Carroll),' 2008, Mixed media, 16 3/4 x 17'' Photo: courtesy Augen Gallery

Widely known in the Northwest for her finely graded abstract paintings in the Op Art tradition, Eva Lake shared a different vein of her practice in her latest show, "Targets." Since 1978 she has worked steadily in the medium of collage, producing a body of work parallel to and informed by her painting. For this show, the compositional rigor and self-assured color palette endemic to her work in oils were evident in a suite of collages that melded feminist and post-feminist concerns with a familiarity with popular culture. The motif central to each collage was a symbol that has bubbled up in our collective unconscious from prehistory through Jasper Johns through contemporary corporate branding: the bullseye target. In varied, often unsettling ways, Lake deployed the bullseye to critique the male gaze as manifest in the entertainment industry, where the corollary to being placed on a pedestal and adored is the near-guarantee of being kicked off that pedestal once the ravenous gaze has moved on to fresher meat. The compositions were peopled by Hollywood starlets of the Golden Age (Jean Harlow, Susan Hayward, Elizabeth Taylor, Carole Lombard), iconic sex symbols (Marilyn Monroe, Ann-Margret), actresses from the 1960s through 1980s (Natalie Wood, Liza Minnelli, Jane Fonda), and in a token nod to today's Tinseltown and tabloid culture, Lindsay Lohan. Lake's imagery points to the ways in which her glamorous subjects suffered the consequences of objectification. Minnelli, costumed as Sally Bowles from "Cabaret," has a head and stomach full of pills; Monroe luxuriates inside a cocktail tumbler; Harlow is half-hidden inside a box, neatly packaged for consumption; Fonda appears against an American flag and a rifle, evoking the 1972 trip to Hanoi that earned her the wrath of the Nixon and N.R.A. establishment. Lohan, less subtly, is pictured in the center of a suggestive popsicle.

Chromatically, the rag papers that underlay each collage ranged from the arresting yellow and orange in Target No. 25 (Tina) to the grayscale and gunmetal blues in Target No. 37 (Yvette) and Target No. 28 (Carroll). Impeccably composed, the works guide the eye without dictating or pandering to it. Across the exhibition, Lake's integration of visual seduction with pointed critique seduce and indict with Roland Barthes-style double-coding, lending the works visceral and conceptual potency.

This article was written for and published in art ltd. magazine art ltd logo sml

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