Max MaslanskySafe Place
Los Angeles | April 30 - July 22 2017
Max Maslansky bases his artwork on vintage pornographic imagery, making paintings on used bed sheets. Investigating pornography's moral ambiguity in relation to the depiction of women, men, and desire, he mines painting's history of figuration, pattern, gesture, and in particular, the stain. In the world of pornography, otherwise real-life transgressions are perfunctory, no matter how vulgar or aggressive they may appear. This is perhaps pornography’s most radical aspect: the act of transgression, its own form of libidinal currency—bypasses the messiness of real life and its politics, further enabling the 'prize' of penetration. In porn, unseemliness and vulgarity are tantamount to the social contract of consensual sex.
Exhibiting new paintings featuring conventional pornographic tropes of seduction, in conjunction with the fluid allure of the stain, this exhibition “Safe Place” is punctuated by paintings that incorporate sewn, painted leather into the picture plane, further complicating notions of the sex drive with the death drive, and the painted with the organic. Select other works also feature police engaging in sexual behavior. Proudly abusing their authority, they mete out sexual pleasure and/or enjoy it for themselves. As arms of the executive branch, they demand the citizenry show their submission and respect as much as they are keen to ‘serve’ it. This fantastical space humorously questions real-life social contracts between the authority and the civic body, even if its mechanisms are seemingly always calcified in reality. Pornography, despite its aggressive pervasiveness and violence, contains fantastical kernels of who we all want to be.