Art Blog

'Barbarella' by Colin Christian

Colin Christian Brings Sexy Back to the Future in "Cosplay" (by Sandra Hale Schulman)

Zap! Bam! Zowee!

If visual art made a noise, that's what Colin Christian's hyper-realistic, fetishistic, ComicCon and cinema saturated statues would sound like. These figurative sculptures, on view in "Colin Christian: Cosplay" through September 8 at the Vered Gallery in East Hampton, effectively conjure the psychedelic sci-fi aesthetic of the 1960s and '70s-shiny, loud, cartoonish and anime.

The title of the show, "Cosplay," is a conflation and abbreviation of "costume play." Brought to 3D life in Christian's life-size and larger than life fiberglass and silicone and LED light-infused works, these fembots-to borrow the appropriate "Austin Powers" and "Bionic Woman" term-straddle a wicked line between art and mass production toys for big boys.

The pieces were a big, buzzed-about hit at the Vered booth at different art fairs over the last two years, and have been featured in places as diverse as the permanent exhibition of the New York Museum of Sex and onstage with hip-hop provocateur Kanye West. Representing something akin to teen comic wet dreams come to life, the sculptures stand apart from the kind of work being shown at most contemporary galleries.

Even though Christian, born in London and currently based in Florida, was a high school dropout, he benefited from on the job training: It was only after making latex clothing for fetish stores that he came around to art, practically the only subject he enjoyed while he was in school.

According to his Vered website artist bio, he finds inspiration in "old sci-fi movies, pinup girl/supermodels, anime, ambient electronic music and H.P. Lovecraft," and he infuses all of these elements in his work. Despite their initial sex doll impact, on closer inspection these are some badass babes who seem to be holding all the power and, perhaps, the keys to the secrets of the Universe.

Cast in resin, sanded, airbrushed to perfection and with glass eyes that sparkle with embedded Mylar stars, the double-take duality of these pieces causes a kind of bizarre "is it art?" confusion.

But the mass popularity of animated films, comic conventions and the sci-fi and fantasy genres, it seems, has now caught up to high end art. This kind of overlap serves as one explanation for the genesis of figurative sculpture like this-pieces evoking what the artist refers to as "modern mythology."

In these figures there are timeless themes of good and evil, love and hate, peace and war. The yin yang tension of the unity of all opposites is the cohesive force binding the light/dark polarities of these works.

Film is a major influence here; the works directly reference characters such as Barbarella, melded here with a popular pinup model named Miss Mosh for a figure, Barbarella (Starring Miss Mosh), that includes its own psychedelic celluloid backdrop.

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