Autism of Desire: Work by Lionel Maunz Lionel Maunz is obsessed with the body, human and animal alike. A combination of sculpture, painting, drawing and taxonomic expression, Maunz's installations reveal him to be something of a young artist coming into his own, that is, a painter productively becoming a mad scientist. Installed along a broad low-slung corridor of one of the many lunar-landscape buildings at Mountain View College, Maunz's work combines large, painterly Bacon-esque canvases, word fetishes laid out in the form of taxonomies and sheer, translucent bundt-cakelike molds of organs and extinct creatures made of silicon and epoxy. Maunz's favorite extinct animal is the trilobyte--a creepy crawly from many eons past. His is a formula of oozing and entropic bodies that makes for an art ready to pick up and crawl off into your neighborhood primordial sludge. A piece titled "Diagonal Infection" combines jiggly sculptural forms with diagrams and images. On the facing wall one finds a very Matthew Barney-esque painting, "Vector," of a deformed fleshy penis-like figure assumedly inside of a car. In addition to Barney, Maunz looks to a wide array of thinkers for inspiration, including Georges Bataille, Antonin Artaud and Jacques Lacan. While his allusion to the work of Barney is too close to the artist's own work, Maunz's references are otherwise keen, rich and right on target. His intellectual cup runneth over. So many bodily non sequiturs, Maunz's brainy spillage reveals artistic potential that is just beginning to realize itself. Now, Mr. Maunz, let's see even more contamination. Make that trilobyte come out of the guts you've so adeptly painted on canvas: Make your gooey sculpture vomit forth from the two dimensions of the picture plane. Don't forget the wonder of bodily eruption bequeathed to us by that famous scene in Alien--the gutsy emergence of a slimy alien creature from the stomach of Sigourney Weaver's fateful crew member. Let's see art mimic that life. Through September 10 in the Kiva Gallery at Mountain View College, 4849 W. Illinois Ave., 214-860-3649. (Charissa N. Terranova)
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Gaza Zoo: 150 Digital Prints The work of Laray Polk successfully combines poetry and politics, art and activism. While the title of the show refers to the Gaza Strip, the role of this political hotbed--the site of Israeli-Palestinian violence and border squabbling, land grabs and struggling state formation--is implicit rather than explicit. The real focus of this show is the act of reading. Polk demands that her viewers critically read the mass media, not only its message but, following Marshall McLuhan, the medium through which it is channeled. Polk has installed on the wall of the gallery 150 laminated pages from her book, also titled Gaza Zoo. Polk's work doesn't suffer from its low-tech quality. Rather, the simplicity of the installation seems complementary to the media-tized pyrotechnics about which her work intellectually revolves. As a result, Polk's message resonates crystal clear. No flight of avant-garde fancy, the work asks us to learn how to think critically--how to read, not resist, the messages that bombard us daily, minute by minute. Combining pictures with quotes from famous and important thinkers, from Nietzsche to P.T. Barnum, Polk provides a sense of hope for the erudite and bookish in our current moment--a time that seems so dark that it makes the Dark Ages seem blasted by the rays of Enlightenment. Through September 25 at the University of Texas at Dallas Visual Arts Building, 2601 N. Floyd Road in Richardson, 972-883-2982. Reviewed this week. (C.T.)