Artist Eric Yahnker is the master at capturing the twisted, f****d-up modern version of the so-called American Dream. The LA artist has just opened his first ever solo show in New York, Virgin Birth ‘N”Turf, and it’s massive, “three rooms, 3,600 sq. ft. of Yahnker madness!” as he puts it. But despite the quantity there’s no compromise on quality and Yanhker’s eye for the absurdities of American culture and society remain razor-sharp and very, very funny.
Whether it’s religion, celebrity or self-help manuals he’s lampooning, the common thread throughout his work is that of promise, or rather the idea of too-good-to-be-true promise, and as ever the pieces range from huge drawings to tiny sculptures.
Where to begin? Maybe it’s best just to have a sampler – a 10ft graphite drawing of Jesus reading Michele Bachmann’s book, ceiling hangings of milk bottles and what appear to be thongs, collections of books with almost identical titles, a drawing where Tiger Woods’ face replaces a buxom blonde’s bottom, a portrait obscured by some chilli, words created by celebrities’ heads, a Dr Phil towel, a talculm-powder cross with the excellent title Talculm X and on and on and on – it’s a show produced on the kind of voracious scale Eric is poking fun at.
He said: “The show provides a mad lab where I get to swab the inner-cheek and place under the microscope a petri dish of the contemporary American experience in the shadow of another blisteringly contentious presidential election, analysing the genetic matter and microorganisms which make us tick as well as the flesh-eating bacteria which plague us.
“From celebrity politicians to real-life celebrity villains, race-baiting and birther-ism, faith and cultivation, zeal and apathy, enterprise and compassion, authenticity and existentialism, sex and patriotism, desecration of aptly-branded canned goods, and hot dishes with bad vices, I serve only to plumb the murky depths which lie below the surface, rather than hoist ideological flags or provide solutions.
“I intend it to revel in tragicomic frustration, laughing equally at as with its all-too-complex subject matter—as all good satire should.”
The show runs at The Hole until October 6.