Eve Wood Hanging in There to Hang On
Track 16 Gallery, Los Angeles
through october 22, 2022
Written by Jody Zellen
Eve Wood’s idiosyncratic drawings and sculptures speak to the present moment. Predominant in this exhibition are depictions of coat hangers, a reference to the recent repeal of Roe versus Wade. As sculptures, they are arranged on a wall salon style, each work using an actual coat hanger as the structure, support, or content of the work. In American Legacy (Hang Up #3) (all Hang Up works 2022), miniature metal nooses are suspended from the base of the hanger. This Hanger is Also a Rainbow (Hang Up #1) features a padded hanger painted in the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag. In Perpetual Nosebleed (Hang Up #5), the bottom part of the hanger is painted red where it pierces a plastic nose. Cross Country Antics (Hang Up #23) is less dire and more fun. Beneath a sign that says, “Let it Snow” (perhaps a reference to the lack of snowfall in California this year and/or to climate change more generally), two plastic skiers traverse black pant hangers topped with white paint representing snow. For Overkill (Hang Up #4), Wood tripled the length of the crossbar on one side of a wooden hanger and let it hang diagonally on the wall, rendering it useless.
Coat hangers with and without clothing also appear in Wood’s works on paper. A full coat rack descends into the red lipped mouth of a blue eyed, blond-haired woman in The Wardrobe Inside My Mouth (2021). In Ear Sale (6 for $10 — After Nicole Eisenman) (2022), Wood created a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh offering bloody ears for sale, many of which are attached to coat hangers. It is difficult not to be affected by the image Hanging in There to Hang On (2021), a depiction of an anguished person bound by a straight-jacket, with bright green eyes, short golden hair and an open mouth. They are suspended from a bar and wrapped by an extended and distorted coat hanger.
Wood’s funky sculptures and illustratively rendered works on paper are as witty as they are unsettling. She has a deft hand and her works often combine gouache and graphite with the drawn line filling in what the paint suggests. Her cast of characters include quasi self-portraits and other people who are never identified. These figures often interact with birds, dinosaurs, as well as her beloved dogs. One of the largest works in the exhibition is the diptych Shroom of Doom (2022). In this piece, Wood depicts a woman in a bright blue dress with light green eyes and blue lips. A painted red line starts at her wrist and extends across the two pieces of paper to the tail of a small one eyed dog standing on a patch of green. The woman is standing under a single sketchily rendered cloud from which large gray drops are falling.
In Wood’s world, everything seems off. Her characters feel trapped in a nasty place from which there is no escape. Figures are shown with animal heads, meditating on dinosaurs, dancing over eggs, or wrestling with monsters. Even the compassion in Two Friends (2021) where a man rests his head on the shoulder of a woman is clouded by the coat hangers around their necks. Wood imbues her work with a sense of urgency and despair: the pieces reflect the chaos of our uncertain times. While ironic and cunning, they are also self-reflexive, humorous and lonely. The only large-scale painting on panel in the exhibition and the first work seen when entering the gallery, Deep Thoughts (2020) pictures an oversized black crow clutching the head of a lone figure in an otherwise empty space. The bird’s open beak cries out— perhaps announcing what the rest of the works in Hanging in There to Hang On are about. Wood’s unsettling viewpoints offer much to contemplate, but no definitive conclusions.
There is a poetry reading scheduled for Thursday, October 6th at 7pm.