Fabricating façades of masculinity
written by Paul Oshima
For the artist Greg Lauren (nephew to Ralph), the particulars of his life are inextricably linked to fashion. Delving beneath the power of the tailored surface, Lauren builds upon a more nuanced understanding of the personal as political. His recent New York exhibition at 28 Wooster Street, “Alteration,” consisted of works that deconstructed recognizable social artifacts, ranging from the now-ubiquitous comic book superhero to the bridal gown. “It’s really looking at identity and image development,” Lauren explains, “how we become who we are and what shapes what we think we should be.”
Though fashion is a major theme in Lauren’s life, it is by no means the heart of his work. Based in Los Angeles and New York, Lauren has found that his preferred painting surface is a specialized, textured paper, which imbues his paintings with an emotive and sculptural quality. For “Alteration,” Lauren used similar paper to sew 40 iconic men’s garments (primarily suits and jackets). Constructed out of paper, the pieces, drained of color and made functionless, became fragile, curious, and lucid. The associated ideologies are deconstructed. “It’s very, very hard to figure out who we’re allowed to be,” says Lauren on this transference and morphing. “Especially with younger people, there is so much pressure to be a certain kind of person, a certain kind of man.”
Lauren encourages negotiations with identity. These are evident in the additional elements of “Alteration”: cloth garments—created with regalia gathered during major points in his life—and an operational workstation. The pieces feature various touches, such as journal entries sewn into the fabric, offering an experiential and personal foil to the propagandistic nature of the show, which included, for example, Superman comic book pages inlaid into a paper military jacket. The workstation, too, refines identity into an ongoing, perpetual process. To leave the comfortable confines of acceptable social mores for a better, although uncertain, manner in which Lauren suggests, the work will never stop.
For more information visit GregLauren.com.
Article kindly supplied by Flaunt magazine.