Hybrids features four artists whose work takes subjectivity as porous and mutable, a site of constant evolution, manipulation, and exploration. There are elements of fantasy here, a kind of surrealism for our present moment, as well as investigations into gender, desire, and the ways technology has become embedded within us. The recognition of the fragmented self is the not the end goal for these artists, but rather the starting point for envisioning identity as ever-expanding and perpetually available for reinvention.
E’wao Kagoshima came to prominence in Tokyo in the mid 1970s. He moved to New York in 1976 and became immersed in the burgeoning East Village art scene. His paintings, drawings, and collages often give the appearance of the unconscious unspooling in vivid technicolor. His images verge on the erotic and speak of unfulfilled desires, but there is also the sense that the body is always a place of dream-like fantasy composed of disparate sources.
Kembra Pfahler has made her life a gesamstkunstwerk, in which boundaries between herself, her multidisciplinary artistic practice, and her personas are negligible. Living and working in New York since the late 1970s, Pfahler’s practice is infused with a gothic, horror-movie infused aesthetic, and is a celebration and emphasis on female presence.
The Chicago-based artist, Robert Lostutter, is closely affiliated with the Chicago Imagists. For years, his remarkably precise drawings and watercolors have focused on “portraits” of figures that are unsettlingly beautiful hybrids of men and bird-like creatures. Here the human and non-human animal divide has been elided to reveal, as Lostutter believes, that paradise is before us if we’re only able to look for it.
Lynn Hershman Leeson has been a key figure in the Bay Area art scene since the early 1970s. Her feminist inflected Conceptual art has offered some of the most radical investigations into artistic subjectivity. Hershman Leeson’s art has also focused on technology and the pervasiveness of surveillance in everyday life. Her work in Hybrids, all from the mid 1980s, are photographic-based pieces that show the female body in a sort of technological transformation—an analog presentation for something ubiquitous in our digital reality.