Friday's opening reception for Meet Me At the Center of the Earth: New Works by Nick Cave at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco was well attended. Cave's elaborate signature costumes, which he calls Soundsuits, created a technicolor wonderland in YBCA's main gallery. The Chicago based artist (no affiliation with musician Nick Cave) describes his Soundsuits as "a means for understanding identity--those things which make one the same or different from others. These full-body masks release the wearer (actual or imagined) from his day-to-day identity allowing him to inhabit another, very different one." (Source: exhibition didactic by Guest Curator Kate Eilertsen)
The energy at YBCA Friday evening was joyful, with a cast of art lovers almost as colorful as the Soundsuits themselves (one woman wore snakeskin boots and a fedora with the image of Grace Jones repeated in a rainbow print), and many filled the main lobby grooving to the sounds of Jef Stott and The Embarka Soundsystem.
Cave draws upon myriad influences for his work, including African and Mardi Gras ceremonial tradition. He locates and assembles an array of textiles, everyday and not-so-everyday objects: antique masks and ceramic sculptures, yarn and ribbon from old cassette tapes. He weaves these elements together in utterly surreal combinations which are alone fascinating for their sheer excess.
Roberta Smith of the New York Times says Cave's work "must be seen to be believed", and that he "seems never to have met a floral pattern he can't insensify with embrodery, or sequins...but he is equally adept with twigs, white string dipped in black paint...and while he uses the materials in copious amounts, sometimes to a groteque effect, his garments always maintain a distinct and glamorous line." Meet Me at the Center of the Earth is on view at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts until July 5th, 2009.
For more info: www.ybca.org