Blasting for Babes

Mel Ramos makes the kind of paintings you're embarrassed to encounter while strolling through SFMOMA with your family. Currently one of the elder statesmen of California art, his technical chops and his ability to represent the human figure cannot be contested. It's just that penchant of his for painting voluptuous naked women that makes things a little awkward with the fam. Ramos' art transcends mere cheesecake, however, thanks to the cheeky juxtapositions he creates with commercial products. In his show "New Paintings" the suite of recent work includes an image of a leggy blonde reclining atop an oversized box of Red Hots, and in another painting a topless woman enthusiastically bursts out of the wrapper of a Bit-O-Honey candy bar. The implied commentary about American consumerist culture pairs well with Elena Dorfman's "Empire Falling" series, large-scale photographs of rock quarries in the Midwest. Dorfman is interested in what these sites reveal about our attitude toward the earth, that we frequently mine its resources until there is nothing left except a hole in the ground. She often manipulates her images, layering photos on top of each other until the resulting landscape is deliberately surreal. Ramos and Dorfman come at the topic from different angles, but each artist has something witty to say about where we're at as a society.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Jan. 17. Continues through March 2, 2013

 
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