Kris Chau: Talk Story

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Through Aug. 2; call 510-384-5344 or visit www.rowanmorrison.com.
Rowan Morrison Gallery, 330 40th St. (at Broadway), Oakland

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As a kid, Kris Chau learned to draw by pausing her cartoon videos and tracing the images on paper she placed over the TV screen. Even after formal training at California College of the Arts, her work maintains a dynamic cartoonish quality. Chau's subject matter is girls — "chubby girls, skinny girls, tall girls, funny looking girls, and most of all sleeping girls," she has said — who find themselves in fairy-tale situations: drowning in skeins of their own hair, wearing fish slippers, flooded by bunnies. As with Frida Kahlo, these women sometimes have see-through skin, revealing their complicated internal organs, but Chau manages to make the transparency more cute than gruesome. At Rowan Morrison's little gallery, the colorful illustrations jump off the gray walls, looking like plates from a long-lost kid's book, or a catalog of fantastic girlish dress-up clothes. The gallery's press release warns that "upon leaving you may find yourself wanting a cupcake and a pair of roller skates." There are worse fates.

 
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