When OC friend and collaborator Aurel Schmidt was invited to participate in the 2010 Whitney Biennale, she submitted a painting of a beast with cigarette butts for veins and a six pack of Budweiser for abs. So it's not surprising that Aurel's new show, Fruits, is being held in the kind of place where you'd go for a late-night pack of cigarettes and a 40: a former bodega on New York City's Lower East Side.
Aurel, who lives in the neighborhood, wanted a space that was "derelict but also kind of classy," she said. "I wanted to do something outside the standard gallery, somewhere that could give the work an interesting context and where I could have more flexibility with the space." Derelict but classy is signature Aurel––the painting she created for OC's Ace Hotel store spells out the company's name in Band-Aids, lighters, toothpaste, rolled-up dollar bills, donuts, and a PBR bottle cap, among other items that look like they materialized on the floor of your apartment after a particularly debauched evening.
But if the deli is derelict––its walls, though painted gallery-white, were not stripped of their grimy electrical cords and ventilation systems––Aurel's paintings are strangely lovely. In them, fruits and vegetables blend seamlessly with pink human flesh: a penis emerges from a banana peel, for instance, while a nipple protrudes from a cantaloupe. The juxtaposition is grotesque, but also tender. "I was subliminally inspired by emojis; tiny decapitated heads and hands and little erect eggplants all floating in white space together, loved," said Aurel.
Like other paintings of Aurel's that depict prescription pill bottles and blackberry phones, the works in Fruits are also "true to our times," Aurel says. "There are glow in the dark cats, boob jobs, and Adderall so why not a lettuce vagina?"
Through November 30. Friday and Saturday 12 – 6PM | Images courtesy of Aurel Schmidt