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Troy Gua's memorial to loss at Fulcrum Gallery

GLOSSY IMMORTALITY: A look at the Iraq war. Courtesy photo

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There are two Troy Gua shows at Fulcrum. The title show, Monument: A Memorial to Loss is installed in the small room to the left as you enter the gallery. Created especially for this exhibition, it is Gua's sober commentary on the loss of life and limb in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other two rooms are filled with what gallery owner Oliver Doriss calls Gua's bread and butter work - celebrity pop art portraits.

Monument should be seen in person and contemplated with slow deliberation. It is stark, harrowing, sad, and a condemnation of the purposeful avoidance of reality in our mass media's coverage of those wars.

The celebrity portraits are as slick and polished as custom made cars and as clever as the most inspired work of a Madison Avenue ad writer. There are tributes to iconic figures dead and alive from Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein to David Bowie and Boy George. And there is an homage to Andy Warhol - not cheap knockoffs of Warhol prints, but serious tributes to Warhol's genius and his fine sense of color and design.

Gua's portraits are even more impersonal and commercial than Warhol's.

Some of Gua's portraits are resin-coated Lightjet metallic prints. Others are resin-coated acrylic paintings. They all have high-gloss surfaces, but most especially the metallic prints. For the budget-minded there are smaller and larger versions of many of the portraits, and the smaller ones are very affordable.

Now for the truly clever part: each portrait is a double or triple portrait, one image superimposed over another. At first glance, for instance, you see the unmistakable visage and hair of David Bowie in The Davids. But keep looking, and suddenly there appears the face of Michelangelo's David. You know, the 17-foot tall statue of the beautiful young naked boy who killed the giant Goliath. Perhaps you never looked all the way up to his face.

All of Gua's portraits morph from one person to another - often people who are such exact opposites that seeing them associated in this way can be shocking, such as The Elton John Wayne (the title should explain it) and The Queens of England, an actual queen of England with Boy George. All but one of the portraits combine the faces of two iconic figures. The one exception is a portrait of Michael Jackson that is layered not with the image of another celebrity but with two very different images of Jackson, who notoriously changed his appearance over time.

Some of the other portrait combinations are Chairman Mao/Mickey Mouse, and Albert Einstein/Marilyn Monroe. Each of these portraits is a beautifully thought-out design, and Gua's color choices are excellent. Many are in gray scale, some with just a touch of color, most notably on the lips. Others are monochromatic, and many use complementary color schemes. The colors in The Elton John Wayne are the most striking and also the most reminiscent of the kind of colors Warhol favored.

You really ought to get down to Fulcrum and see this show.

[Fulcrum Gallery, through March 13, noon to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and by appointment, gallery talk Feb. 18 at 6 p.m., 1308 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.250.0520]

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Susan Emley said on Jan. 31, 2011 at 2:28pm

Alec Clayton.....Arts Olympia is having it's fabulous annual show February 11-13 at the Coach House of the State Capitol Museum. Come see local artists and their recent work

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