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Pure, unadulterated female power pulses through Tina Warrior Princess Gallery, Christine Stormberg’s solo show at Leiminspace. Greeting visitors at the door is Virgin and Child (all works 2017), a lumpily grotesque cement Madonna studded with piercings and contorted in ecstasy as she suckles her florescent babe. It is both unsettling and compelling to see this monstrous Orc-like figure assume the most vaunted of feminine roles: that of the biological and spiritual mother (a space traditionally reserved in Western Art History for far more winsome figures). On the mezzanine directly above resides Missy Piggy as Kali, which depicts the famously love-smitten puppet swine transformed into the Hindu mother goddess of destruction and adorned with the skulls of her former paramour. Anchoring the show on each level, these works refashion mythic female archetypes through a heady mix of neon paint and pop culture references.
In complement, a suite of luscious oil paintings of woman-flesh line the walls. Studies of meaty legs tightly laced into sky-high stripper stilettos are both reverent and obscene. Standing in Line for The Club depicts a pack of painted ladies on a girls’ night out. Their flesh is sculpted but realistic, lumpy in some spots, saggy in others. Done up in the warrior paint and heels of high femininity, there is an air of drag-like campiness to their appearance. They are performing, but not for us the viewers; all of the energy of the work is contained in the tight feedback loop of the group. In stark contrast, all accoutrements are stripped away in the most emotionally intense painting, Lesbian Twins. The work is an oversized portrait of two, mostly nude figures staring deadpan out at the viewer. Are they sisters? Lovers? Though the title reads as a porn fetish, the comfort and confidence of the twins’ expressions have nothing to do with the patriarchal visual ideals of most porn culture. This is Stormberg’s sweet spot, carving out a visual space to reclaim the expectation of loaded female archetypes, from the sexual to the divine.
Christine Stromberg: Tina Warrior Princess Gallery runs June 17–July 10, 2017 at Leiminspace (443 Lei Min Way, Los Angeles, CA 90012).