LaForge presents a series of large-scale paintings that hold a mirror to the liminal times we live in. Our environment, permeated by a fear of death and the promise of relief from an invisible threat, is rife with the by-products from this anxious state. The 1920s parallel 2020 in paintings that treat subjects as varied as vaccines and pandemics to the rise of organized crime and the debauched forgetfulness of “partying” contrasted by the search for what is real for each of us in these topsy turvy times.
In this series, a time-space continuum sandwiches the spirit of a “new Roaring 20s” through imagery that uses the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The dwarves represent the moods of humanity, while they indulge in the revelry of sex—“as above, so below.” Momento mori, like a “death is certain” banner, envelop the dwarves, who drink and smoke in a spirit of celebration and escape. Linking two pandemics—AIDS and COVID—the dwarves face the brunt of gay jokes as in the early days of the AIDS contagion: “What does gay stand for? Got AIDS yet?” An irreverent, punk spirit infuses the images, evoking the atmosphere of the present-day East Village: smoking, drinking, a blur of fast-moving crowds.
One of the works portrays insensibly ascribed names of pandemics: Spanish Flu, China Virus, Indian Delta Variant—interspersed with phrases like “God Hates Fags.” In the midst of blame and tension, marginalized groups create safe spaces—like the drag balls in Hamilton Lodge in Harlem in the 1920s, the euphoric jazz age—all part of the rise of art and expression after a pandemic.
The composition of the paintings references modern and old masters. There is a sense of multidimensionality—the collapsing of space and time—in these works. The truth is elusive but a sense of beauty prevails. Darkness and light coexist…like in our present times.