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Adam Beris’s work in Soft Bananas, currently on view at Fabien Castanier, is iterative to the point of compulsion. Beris’s signature move is the excrescent profile, made by squeezing out globby lines of paint directly from the tube to form small faces, topped off with a single googly eye. Each profile rides an oscillating line between edible and scatological, divining both crudely detailed buttercream icing and something more abject.
Works in this series dominate the exhibition, which otherwise takes a few random detours into abstraction (Hot Button Topic, all works 2017) and still life (Late Night). Some of the latter tableau amuse, like the Olin Mills-style floating heads of Television, in which four profiles consider a painted landscape/window into another dimension like band members on some lost prog-rock album cover. Others are less fortunate: All the Pretty Girls in Palm Springs shows yet more of our once-friendly, now-leering faces oogling a half-naked female figure (notably the only time we see any figure from below the neck).
That the profiles are, formally speaking, idiosyncratic reliefs imbues them with a curious mixture of character and seriality. Beris typically groups and crowds profiles in offset grids over evenly toned backgrounds, each face facing towards or away from one another with either stoicism or ambivalence. When, as in Little Dipper and Brian’s Poster, a profile or small handful of profiles occupies a larger scene, each seems, tentatively, a comment on visual art or simply the experience of looking—a wide, existential berth to which a cartoonish formal trope perhaps hasn’t much to say. Still, Beris’s inscrutable faces are a kind of visual charm offensive, serialized in compositions that are curiously warm and cool at once—both patterned, alienated humanity and cleverly realized individual reliefs.
Adam Beris: Soft Bananas runs November 4–December 16, 2017 at Fabien Castanier (2919 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232).