In Team's final exhibition at their Chelsea gallery space (before relocating to SoHo), Dawn Mellor's We Hope You Choke takes a small sidestep from her brashly acidic, satirical portrayals of celebrity-dom to inject vitriolic political and social anger into a messy amalgam of abstract allegory. The resulting paintings avoid easy interpretation, but ooze rebellious punktitude, landing somewhere in between a sophisticated painterly take on topical issues and an adolescent outpouring of teen angst at a world gone terribly wrong.
Fuck the Mothers, Kill the Others, whose title alone tells you everything you need to know about the painting's intent to shock, conflates an Oz-ian Dorothy in battle with an advancing army clad in N-for-Nazi armbands and black riot gear. Only a thin wall of purple separates their struggles, while a rainbow and ominous clouds of red glaze fill the sky over the yellow-marked battlefield. A wall of protesters display their eponymous signage, a back-dropped slogan for the struggle at hand that, while avoiding any logical explanation for its depiction, adds to the tone of abstract referential conflict.
The paintings display few visual pleasures, as Mellor's style largely dismisses the pursuit of beauty while subjugating the expected payoff of painterliness. In the 80's they called this 'bad painting,' a subversive, somewhat transgressive rejection of taste, wielded in an effort to assert a new relevancy to painting. Mellor's 'bad painting' style is less concerned with meta-painting, but uses conflicting form and dashed-off technique to instill content in relation to her social subject matter. Painterly form and representational narrative combine to embody an enraged, rebelliously visceral outpouring that offers little in the form of real-world solutions, but avoids didacticism while responding to some of the political and social contradictions of our historical moment.
(top photo: Dawn Mellor, Get Out of My House, 2006, oil on canvas, 87 x 112 inches; courtesy of Team Gallery)
Dawn Mellor, We Hope You Choke, is on view at Team Gallery [527 West 26th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, ground floor] from May 18 through June 24.