Brief Review of "Hey Loser" show at "Hot Art Wet City"

by O.Linares

Facing street by-passers, the Beavis and Butthead cartoon greets the visitor and at seven pm “Hot Art Wet City” gallery opens its doors, yet it is only until an hour later that a sizeable crowd of young people gathers for the opening of “Hey Loser.” Curated by Ali Bruce, the show features work by herself and artists Brandon Cotter, Daniel Tatterton, Victoria Sieczka, Hamish Olding, and Tylor MacMillan; a first look at the artwork makes it “hard to tell the difference”1 between each artists work. Indeed, most of the works share the spontaneous variety of line and form, the sketch like quality that make them seem somewhat improvised, and a palette of bright colors that always include black; likewise the subject matter appears similar in all works: humorous, grotesque, and vulgar themes on mundane subjects; often ironically framed in the manner of “high art.”

According to Bruce, the show gathers a “low brow” aesthetic that is not necessarily constrained by a conceptual framework nor by the demands of commercial illustration; rather the style of the works aim at a synthesis of “low-brow” culture.2

As for the stylistic cohesion in display, Bruce speaks of it as corresponding to a “collective vibe,” to a license to “just let go,” to be able to use vulgarity, and to create “things that are funny”; thus mood is the ultimate unifier of the show where similar techniques and styles make it “hard to tell the difference.”3

Despite this aesthetic unity, particular moods, interests, and subject matter drive the creation of these works and are subtly identifiable; an example of this divergence can be found in the work of Brandon Cotter. In his work, Cotter exhibits a set of concepts and a driving mythology in the use of type, symbols, and portrayal of social types4. On this last, such typology is done in caricature that constitute an “abstraction of the realism” that Cotter would like to create but doesn’t feel the need to; it is an abstraction that could be said to perform the critical functions of aesthetic realism.5

Cotter graduated from ECUAD’s design department, and it is partly from this formation as a designer that some of his works aim “to translate…to make comprehensible to the people” the “hidden languages” and symbols in culture and society.6 This cognitive attitude is present also in the planning of his works, where the entanglement of this symbolism and poetic phrases are hidden within the spontaneous quality of his illustrations; images which, according to the artist, are nonetheless more organic and dependant on his “reacting”mood.7

At around ten thirty the Sun Spuns begin diving into the night and the majority of the crowd revolves within the orbit of their tunes, thus making it difficult to interview the rest of the artists to hear more on the particular drives of their work; and yet, the humour, grotesqueness, unpolished quality, and technique shared at “Hey Loser” indeed exude what Bruce calls a “collective vibe.”8

1,2,3,8- Ali Bruce, interview by Omar Linares. Vancouver: 20.07.2013

4-7- Brandon Cotter, interview by Omar Linares. Vancouver: 20.07.2013