Serial Killer

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The Secret Life #12/ The Secret Life #10/ The Secret Life #11, Mark Horst

There are more than 100 galleries on Canyon Road, which is about half the galleries in Santa Fe and a quarter of the galleries in all of New York City. That’s according to a statistician I met on my first real trek down the famed slope (tip #1: on Canyon, follow the Guggenheim rule). For a newcomer like me all of this art added up to chills and heart palpitations. I mean that in the best way possible.

About halfway down, I stopped in the shade of a bronze buffalo and took some deep breaths. I had to face the fact that I couldn’t see all of it, so I decided to follow the Doorway Test. If the thin slice of gallery I could see through the portal looked scrumptious, I would enter. If not, it was time to move on. The Doorway Test isn’t foolproof, but gallery owners do pay particular attention to what falls within that acute sweep of the eyes. Competition is fierce.

I stopped through William & Joseph, Vivo Contemporary, Mirador and Selby Fleetwood, and thought I was done for the day until I spotted “The Secret Life #12” and its cousins through the door of Canyon Road Contemporary. A cool thing about the Doorway Test is that it helps you strengthen your taste muscles. If you feel a distinct tug, step across the threshold.

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Embrace #46/ Embrace #41, Mark Horst

At first glance, it might seem that Mark Horst is trapped in a cage of his own making. He willfully locks his subjects behind the fuzzy veil of Gerhard Richter and clones them with the machine-like intensity of Andy Warhol. But while Richter explores the frayed edges of history and Warhol the superficiality of material culture with their respective techniques, Horst is aiming closer to the gut.

Horst happened to be in the room during my viewing, and he admitted to the gathered gallery goers that he painted some of his subjects from porn films.

“You see different sides of people when you paint their images multiple times,” he said, pointing at the trio of “The Secret Life” works. “This one is more manufactured, this one is more tender, and this one is darker.”

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The Secret Life #16 (top), I Looked Down #2 (bottom), Mark Horst

Porn stars are people too, after all. Hurdle the enduring societal aversion to the nude male body and stand in front of Horst’s multiples for a while. Allow your mind to rearrange flat surfaces into three dimensional beings who experience pain and joy. Look, and look deeper. These planes are not meant to deflect, but incrementally shade and deepen. Horst is out to assassinate the textbook idea of serial imagery within postmodernism, and it’s fascinating.

MUST SEE: The show includes paintings from Horst’s The Living Hand and What I Cannot Reach Series’ (click here and scroll down). Struggling figures swim through a murky brown atmosphere. It’s chilling.

P.S. Follow me on Twitter? @santafizz


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2 thoughts on “Serial Killer

  1. Nancy Leeson says:

    Your writing is astute and passionate. Your voice is compelling! This is an excellent piece.

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