Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Peter Drake: Memoirs of Suburbia | NUVO Newsweekly

Peter Drake: Memoirs of Suburbia | NUVO Newsweekly

Evan Lurie Gallery

Manhattan-based Peter Drake is a painter who has allowed his father’s lead figure collection to guide him into strange territory. In his blown up reproduction of a toy Algerian soldier in “Fleur-de-Lis" (acrylic on canvas) the soldier’s enlarged face looks sinister; where the eyes should be you see only black pits. The figure’s sharply focused only in places—a depth of field effect—as if you’re looking at a photograph. But the macro lens through which Drake observed this particular lead figure, before he painted it, gave him a clear view without distortion. The blurred effect, imagined and conceived through Drake’s superb technical capacity, heightens the strangeness of the depicted figure. In the background of this lead figure are two competing images: one the fleur-de-lis emblem, with its representation of the Christian trinity, and the other an arabesque geometrical pattern. Add all this up and you can feel the presence of many competing cultural narratives here, one of which is the evocation of France’s colonial past — which mirrors America’s present.

This first-time retrospective of Drake’s work also features scenes of distress in the midst of suburbia such as “Siege of Syosset” where a tank fires in the middle of a suburban street. Suburbia, at least it seems here, is no safer than the overseas territories where we send our tanks and soldiers.

Also on view is a selection of Drake’s video work rendered with Photoshop and Adobe programs. One video features a parade of toy soldiers marching down a suburban street.Through Oct. 24; 317-844-8400;

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