Art in the City: Cow-Blood Communion

04/11/2007 12:00 AM |

Jordan Eagles: Signs of Life
Merge Gallery, through May 19

Some artists replenish their supplies at Pearl Paint; Jordan Eagles does his shopping at the local slaughterhouse. Mammal blood, his medium of choice, sets Merge Gallery aglow in this show of six large panels. Eagles, who has been working for ten years to perfect his technique, layers the crimson fluid with resin to create thick panels (they’re more like sculptures than paintings) that burst with energy. FK1 (pictured) pleases the eye with Rorschachian ambiguity: A splatter of blood on a milky white surface looks at once like a leaping dancer and a gunshot wound. But the work doesn’t get by on shock value alone — in fact, the swipes and drips of animal plasma have, surprisingly, no stomach-turning effect. The work instead conveys calm beauty. Circular pools of translucent red in Phases 1-2 look like Mars and Venus. In UR2, bursts of blood and copper powder shimmer and shift in the light, giving new life to remnants of the dead.

Kim Dingle: Studies for the Last Supper at Fatty’s
Sperone Westwater, through April 28

Kim Dingle, a self-proclaimed “reluctant restaurateur,” isn’t making reference to Da Vinci’s masterpiece in her latest series of oil paintings. The title, rather, points to her stint as owner of a California eatery called Fatty’s: She’s anticipating the day when she can end that frenetically paced career and return to her art. Her series of paintings on vellum depict chubby girls with wild curls, flinging food, swilling wine and tearing into each other while sitting at (and standing on) a long table (which, intentionally or not, does indeed make reference to the depiction of Jesus’s final meal). These larger-than-life scenes are straight out of a storybook about naughty children; their irreverence is reflected in the saucily loose brushtrokes and haphazardly assembled panels (the vellum is in small squares that come together to form the images). Dingle’s work infuses the gallery with a rare exuberance; it’s hard to imagine she doesn’t take some pleasure in rowdy visitors to her restaurant.