Jaimie Warren: ‘That’s What Friends Are For”
Art in Review
05.02.14 page C26 of the New York Times
In her latest New York exhibition, Jaimie Warren comes across as a force of nature, or at least pop culture, whose work brims with messy promise. Based in Kansas City, Mo., and New York, Ms. Warren is a founder of Whoop Dee Doo, a traveling artist-run project that has created performances and installations at universities, festivals and museums since 2006. On her own, she concocts photographic impersonations of celebrities and characters from the world of entertainment. These pictures indicate a talent for color and tactility (to say the least) as well as for rough-edged transformation that combines aspects of the work of Cindy Sherman, Sandy Skoglund and Alex Bag while channeling the spirits of Leigh Bowery, Divine and George Grosz. Perhaps most important is an ease with grossness that is still unusual for a female artist, especially one whose drive and inherent wholesomeness largely sidestep the abject in favor of camp.
Some works here continue the artist’s takeoff on the Totally looks like website, whose pairings of celebrity look-alikes in turn descends from Spy Magazine’s Separated at Birth? series. In her versions, Ms. Warren plays both sides of the equation, whether Lady Gaga and a ham, Lil Wayne and the Twilight Zone gremlin or Boy George and the hapless Ralph Wiggum from “The Simpsons.”
Ms. Warren continues her equally colorful “Celebrities as Food” series with self-portraits as “Lasagna Harding” and “Chicken Tikka Ma alvador Dali.” The putative centerpiece of the show is a five-channel video that recasts the crowded predella of Fra Angelico’s San Domenico altarpiece with the artist’s friends decked out as everyone from Peggy Lee to Snooki, including multiple Michael Jacksons. Ms. Warren already has something of a cult following, but with a little more discipline, she could stretch her art further.
A version of this review appears in print on May 2, 2014, on page C26 of the New York edition with the headline: Jaimie Warren: ‘That’s What Friends Are For’.
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