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The city at night is the site of both thrill and anxiety; animated, it becomes amplified, Film Noir coming to full, shadowy fruition. Slipping into LOUDHAILER from La Cienega Boulevard’s shady, phantom-limbed Avenue, one enters into Justin John Greene’s Moonlighting, a series of paintings, drawings, and one mural, that pull from a variety of recognizable but dated sources: the bleakly stylized art deco of Batman: the Animated Series, the exaggerated forms and 2d-3d amalgams of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Greene reaches back and through these sources to the various art movements informing early animation, particularly the disjunctive content of surrealism, in works like Whimsical Evolution 3.
Greene’s scenarios pay off fantastically. The floating head of It’s Who You Know is right out of an 80s Sears portrait studio, while Stripes and Solids’ diagonal pool cue skewers the neck of a grotesque central figure. Moonlighting refers, in title and scope, to a kind of second career marked under the night-sign of vice. Actual sleep and self-care occur somewhere offstage, if at all.
Film noir, in its distillation of a very particular and dark strain of life, is framed by a very particular and dark strain of emotion. It’s medium is equal parts glamour and shadow, desire and its fallout. Greene’s work, though powerful— and more importantly, memorable—risks a kind of glamour of exhaustion in its borrowing so heavily from noir’s formal language. Still, his subjects, like the cubist face, are both superhuman and cartoonishly flattened, seedy and alluring.
Justin John Greene: Moonlighting runs from January 9–February 20, 2016 at LOUDHAILER (2648 La Cienega Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034).