Clare Rojas’ paintings and drawings, like a Coen brothers movie, are uncomfortably funny and lightly disturbing. Both the Coens and Rojas have embarked on similar aesthetic projects: to show that an enjoyably queer outward appearance may cloak mysteriously empty motivations. A thought goes one way but the face goes another. The eyes are windows to a hole.
If Rojas’ scenes followed a narrative, then they could easily be adapted to comic-book form. Instead, the disjointed scenes, like other Kavi Gupta Gallery artists Adam Scott and Chris Johanson, use a cartoonish style to tease the cutesy/awkward divide. The images in the show, titled “Believe Me,” feature rabbits, bearded men with elfin shoes, black geese, eight-pointed stars and graphic floral patterns. These would be well-suited to tarot cards, where distinct scenes, like a naked man in a ditch, appear to mean something ominously specific, yet a card reader would interpret them differently, maybe benignly.
If I ever start a cult, I’d hire Rojas to design my cult’s stationary and Christmas cards. When paganism is birthed from boredom, and dystopia needs some decoration, Rojas hits the right wrong note every time. (Jason Foumberg)
Through July 25 at Kavi Gupta Gallery, 835 W. Washington