San Francisco artist James Gobel creates a colorful, mysterious world of portly men in Baroque décor playing a lonely game of hide and seek. Gobel’s trademark bold color, intelligent detail, and verbose figures, some holding lit candelabras in search of something or someone, are set within decadent architectural settings that act as a maze for his subjects to navigate. This new series of acrylic felt, wool felt, yarn, & acrylic on canvas paintings will be on view February 14 – March 29, 2008.
Gobel’s work suggests a frolicking yet compassionate farce, painted in a cinematic storyboard fashion, featuring single figures desperately looking for one another and finding various levels of success. Clad in rock t-shirts or plaid flannels, a few of his Bears have given up; they are depicted slumped in a chair, candle wax dripping, signifying that the light will soon be snuffed out and their desires will not be met. Gobel brilliantly intimates an overriding sense of fear and desire juxtaposed with a witty opulence that sheds hope on these games of love. The mix of contemporary hipster garb, the sly nods to the “dandy” (as seen in the tight-fitting calf-high police boots and tights in the grand piece I Love You and I Always Will), the opulent décor of flocked wallpaper, the gilded framed mirrors, and the velvet curtains all add a tantalizing aura to the works.
The great potential of Gobel’s figures may never be realized, though -- if the bears move too quickly, the candles will blow out -- but if they move too slowly, the wick will succumb to ash. Their efforts, however desperate, may come to a bittersweet end, but his figures’ longing gazes also suggest that one may have spotted another. A sense of urgency, desire, and possible failure permeates the works and leaves the viewer rooting for his characters to connect.
February 14 - March 29, 2008
Marx & Zavattero
77 Geary Street, Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94108