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April 6, 2009

{     Lost Constellations - The Art of Tara McPherson Vol. II     }    

taramcPmuthafuckaz233223333.jpgCrowndozen has been digging the work of Tara McPherson since back in her early gig-poster days, her muted pastel palettes and signature characters have taken up permanent residence in our minds ever since we first laid eyes on them. The past few years have seen an explosion of interest in her work and a subsequent unfolding of her skills into a variety of mediums, from toys and sculpture to paintings and screenprints. This collection from Dark Horse manages to capture McPherson in full bloom, with the same attention to detail and lavish presentation seen in Volume 1 applied to these newer works.

We see most of these pieces evolve from sketches to roughs to final product, getting a peek at the artist's process start-to-finish. It's great to see themes develop here, as there are often substantial changes from beginning to end with each stage coming closer to the fullest and best expression of what she's aiming for. It sets an almost narrative tone to her work, as we see the characters change positions or their environments morph, developing visually.
The subjects of several of her paintings are a variety of young women with heart-shaped pieces of their torsos punched out, standing, lounging or floating amongst different backgrounds. There's a weird emotional gravity to these pieces, despite their almost cartoonish presence, and it becomes easy to feel a sort of blank absence where the heart should be after taking them in. The negative space suggests other thoughts as well- "You can see right through me.", "I've no love to give." or "It was not just broken, but stolen from me." The backgrounds reinforce this; a glacial lake, outer space, quiet private places that would seem intimate if shared, but instead feel only lonely.
Where previous works depicted these young women as indie-rock pixies or lithe sci-fi babes, these newer pieces often eschew clothing, divorcing the subjects from such distractions as "scene" or "genre". And while they are certainly attractive, their nudity summons sexuality as a natural force, a raw universality, not some mere pin-up lustiness. These women are closer to nyad and dryad than they are to Suicide Girl or Burning Angel, though other subjects pop up throughout this collection to cater more directly to those needs.
The rock posters here, in particular her piece for Mastodon, are some of McPherson's most daring; where the majority of the paintings leaned on a kind of esoteric elemental sexiness, these can favor a more openly hedonistic sex-appeal. It's refreshing to see sexuality handled so well and so candidly, to know that the same artist that is capable of such subtlety and nuance also understands and acknowledges the fundamental magnetism these images carry when re-contextualized, and doesn't mind doing so within a few pages of each other as presented in this collection.
And maybe it's that level of development that's really being celebrated here. It's not just commercial success as an artist that McPherson's achieved, this volume is testimonial to her growth as an artist and as an individual as well. Kudos, the results are as beautiful as they are thought-provoking.

     » "Lost Constellations" - The Art of Tara McPherson Vol. II - (Only $15)

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