Two women loading stuff in through the back of the Copro Gallery Saturday were letting people scuttle in and take a glance in advance of the 8pm exhibition opening. I didn’t have much time to look around.

Chris Mars: Life is Beautiful

Chris Mars: Life is Beautiful

Off in one room I saw a lot of goblins with psoriasis, painted by Chris Mars. “Life is Beautiful,” above, features a crowd and the figures are seedy as hell. They’re garish and ugly. Mars paints such exquisite texture to their bad skin; it’s dry to the point of being gross.

And there’s a camaraderie to this whole grouping. They’re positioned like demons standing around at a party. They’re limned with soft edges in a Romantic portrait style; they look natural and familiar to each other, and more or less content. The floating pumpkin with the ice cream cone hat might not be having such a good time, but it’s not picking a fight with anyone. It’s like family is getting together for a holiday. And while the presence of mist and flowing ribbons give the scene a haunted-house feeling, the rainbowey hues filling the space add a sense of unity and togetherness to the gathering.

I also couldn’t help noticing the way the eyes gleamed with friendliness. For those that had eyes. There are a few that just have sockets where the eyes should be, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong.

There’s more festivity in “Chapter 31 Paragraph 2.”

Chris Mars: Chapter 31 Paragraph 2

Chris Mars: Chapter 31 Paragraph 2

Mars’ artist statement is quite compelling, and worth a read.

In the other room were fiendish feminine figures smirking at me with large, colorful eyes that seemed to know I was looking. Here is “The Wild Pack,” by Ciou.

Ciou: The Wild Pack

Ciou: The Wild Pack

Despite the flat, cartoonish aspect of the drawing, there’s an incredible amount of detail and texturing to the surfaces; the ropelike quality to the legs, the strokes in the eyes that darken and add depth to the irises. The fur on the mouse in the foreground.The strong, bright colors of the foreground figures bespeak enchantment. Check out the background too. The text, foreign and old-looking, gives more weight to a fairytale-ish influence on the work. Like a magic spell was cast and brought Ciou’s fiends to life. From Ciou’s bio:

Suspended between dream and nightmare, her paintings consist of a base made of a collage of old papers, taken from old medical books, dictionaries, and nature manuals, where she uses acrylic and ink; creating her own personal mixed media.

Here is Life on Mars:

alifeonmars

Ciou: Life on Mars

[Copro Gallery]