In his first solo project with the gallery, Larry Mantello constructs an elaborate collage of color, line and form out of seemingly endless supplies of costumes, wigs, shirts, patterned textiles and other accessories emblazoned with brightly hued images of pop culture consumer icons. All these elements seem to undulate in constellations of shifting scale while suspended above a mirrored platform, illuminated by colored florescent and disco lighting in the artist’s bizarre mise en scene.
Mantello’s installation is dominated by three sections of theatrical fabric curtain that are hung from the ceiling providing a fantasy playground of excess for characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons among a host of others. They act as avatars of childhood abandon and innocence, all of them encapsulating a sense of play and escape that is an integral part of the artist’s work. Mantello provides the viewer with a tropical garden of sensual pleasures complete with dangling marijuana leaves, psychedelic bugs, and exotic keyhole images of male and female bodies. Providing stylized cloud-cover for this island tableau is a series of lighted boogie boards that dangle above the character-encrusted scrims. A cacophony of numerous overlapping soundtracks of mostly children’s songs echoes the visual gluttony of cartoon emblazoned consumer goods.
Larry Mantello’s work has been exhibited internationally for nearly two decades, including shows at The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Art + Public in Geneva, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and more recently at the Andrew Kreps Gallery, the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle and Henry Urbach Architecture. His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas. This will be his fourth solo show in New York.