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Larassa Kabel
at Peel Gallery, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Troy Schulze

Continuing through April 30, 2011

Walking into Larassa Kabel's new show it's hard to step away from her series of eight-by-eight foot black-and-white drawings of horses in free fall, titled "Any Minute Now." It's arresting imagery rendered in incredible detail. In one, the horse's entire body is captured in Kabel's square frame, and its muscles are visibly strained and taut, preparing for the inevitable impact. The strands of hair in its mane and tail defy gravity, flowing upward by the force of the fall. In two other drawings, the horse's head, neck and forelegs are inverted as they enter the top of the frame. One of the animals is obviously distressed, mouth open in an upward scream. The other faces downward, resolved, legs outstretched as if diving.

Kabel achieves elegant composition on the blank white paper, with beautiful contrast; the images are near photographic. They're also both meditative and tense. It's jarring to picture horses in such positions, so ungrounded and vulnerable. And it's disturbing to imagine the circumstances that could cause such falls.

Kabel also casts a wide net of interest with these drawings. Lovers of surrealism will appreciate them, as will horse aficionados and general western enthusiasts. Kabel's show opened one week after the closing of this year's Rodeo Houston; it would've been interesting to view the drawings while the city was immersed in the rodeo context. After all, Kabel depicts the horses unsaddled, free of any mark of domestication.

Also on display are a series of smaller drawings, mostly nudes and images of women performing blowjobs (cropped to leave it to our imaginations). They're well done, but presented in contrast to the horse drawings, their provocative nature feels forced, as if in competition with the large-scale works. Kabel's horses win the race.

Peel Gallery

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