Lisa Kemp has blazed a new trail in her latest show at Aurora in Little Five Points, the outpost for a higher grade of coffeehouse art.
"I've been growing up with my art," says the University of Georgia grad, whose previous work featured wistful little girls rendered in a hazy style and pastel shades. With their mix of sugar and a hint of sadness, Kemp's children suggested an artist appraising the bittersweet qualities of little girls through adult eyes. Some of those wan sweetie pies with their birdies and duckies and downcast gazes linger on in Immaculate Ecstasy. Some even manage to successfully blend wit, prettiness and gloom in an enchanting way, such as "Pieta" or the suicide girl in "Going Out."
But many of those little girls may be staying too long at this pity party, and pale next to the grown-up charms of Kemp's newer work.
There is enough evolution and an encroaching feistiness in Kemp's latest show to make you feel like she is often backtracking when she paints her frothy maidens. It turns out Kemp is not just some chronicler of the delicate froufrou of girlhood, but a woman in touch with a randy, riotous dimension to girl culture. And with that shift from kid to the teen-to-thirtysomething years, something amorphous has snapped into focus. One of the best pieces in the show for braving new generational waters and for the vibrancy of the rendition is Kemp's "The Creation of the Universe." It's a portrait of an older and clearly wiser comrade whose electric hairstyle and dark skin set her apart from the whiter shade of pale wisps who populate Kemp's Virgin Suicides world.
Infused with her usual girly sensibility, Kemp's "It's More Than a Color, It's a Way of Life!" portrait of some bad-ass howling wolves rendered in the mauve of '80s window treatments is just the kind of jocular collision we'd like to see more of from her. "Flaming Giraffe" taps a similar comic vein, with its gooey-eyed creature made extra cute with cherry-red lips.
Despite some unevenness of style and tone in Immaculate Ecstasy, the show is a welcome assertion of Kemp's wicked sense of semimorbid fun.
Immaculate Ecstasy. Through Sept. 15. Mon.-Thurs., 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat-Sun., 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Aurora Coffee, 468 Moreland Ave. 404-523-6856. www.auroracoffee.com.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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