Mica-encrusted, ebony swirls weave through Camille Rose Garcia‘s most recent body of work, Hydra of Babylon, on display at Merry Karnowsky Gallery in Los Angeles, CA through October 10th, 2009. In addition to her highly calligraphic black lines, Garcia layers translucent hues, silver leaf, and iridescent sheens to depict her usual suspects – winged creatures and desperate divas, all signaling disdain for the world around them. If oozing toxic drips, tear stained eyes, or nonchalant hand gestures don’t fully reveal the artist’s message, viewers can usually find a title written on an embedded coil of ribbon within the piece. Titles include names like Gloom and Doom, Destroying Angels, Poisons for Unthinkable Pains, and The Witch of Silent Spring, to name a few.
Garcia’s most persistent subjects are the illustrative animals that populate her melancholy scenes. In the 60″ x 84″ acrylic on panel painting, The Hydra of Babylon, a nine-headed serpent fatally injures an eagle, which weeps incessantly as it’s strangled with writhing tentacles. Most likely, Babylon is a geographical reference that, in conjunction with the dying eagle, is meant to summon ideas of annihilation, grief, and war in the Middle East.
Sickness and pain are also recurrent themes, seen in doe-eyed fawns that choke on malignancies that thoroughly permeate scenes like The Witch of Silent Spring. Ironically, there are tonics that promise solace and healing, but those solutions are the same deadly ones that infiltrate the animals’ surroundings, subsequently furthering their demise. In the midst of all the malaise are trumpet-like Easter Lilies, the quintessential symbol of virtue and hope. Those same lilies are present in Why Can’t You Just Be Happy, a painting of a quite corpulent vulture stewing in her woeful sorrow.
Occasional splashes of warm color and hopeful metaphors are planted sporadically throughout these psychedelic views, making them more accessible and alluring. Garcia creates a world of her own, yet one that is heavily influenced by the kaleidoscopic realities of Lewis Carroll‘s Alice In Wonderland, or, perhaps more pertinent to her Orange County upbringing, Tim Burton‘s Edward Scissorhands. It was no surprise to find out that Garcia is currently working on an illustrated Alice In Wonderland book that will be released from Harper/Collins in March of 2010. This will be the fourth published book featuring her work, the others being The Saddest Place on Earth, 2005, The Magic Bottle, 2006, and Tragic Kingdom, 2007.