Amalgamation: Eddie Ochoa @ Pandemic Gallery, 37 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY
Through September 18
Pandemic Gallery, in South Williamsburg, bears the evidence of a recent volley of arrows, with about 9 or 10 of them stuck in its Eastern wall. The culprit, Eddie Ochoa, hailing from San Antonio, Texas, is featured here this month in “Amalgamation”, his first solo show in New York. The images Ochoa is re-creating in “Amalgamation” represent a web of suspended disbelief in which he has captured various mythological images and formed them into his own system. They nearly read like Tarot cards, each representing a message of warning or destiny.
Also on this Eastern wall is a portrait series of mostly mythological female characters and goddesses, each seemingly captured in a moment of leisure or ceremony, with translucent far-away eyes. The Goddess of Justice is absorbed in a book whose octopus arms are reaching out for an embrace; A Goddess is both coming and going from her pillar of smoke, her body angled in a backwards arc. A Wonder, the standout among these, is a waif-like woman in the fetal position, with long blond hair floating all around her, whose only mythological feature is her hooves for feet. She is suspended in the desert night sky, a cosmic figment, her chin tucked into her knees with an expression of either fear or fulfillment, and has captivated a few spectators from the mortal world.
The male subjects of Ochoa’s work sit poised and proud always without real faces, looking directly at you with the same translucent eyes as their female counterparts. A King and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, seem like gangsters with imposing postures, as though they were holding court. Songsinger, the standout piece of the whole lot, is playing his guitar and dancing, immersed in a whirlpool of movement so engaging, you feel as though you’ve been singing and dancing with him for hours. Each of the male figures is nearly throbbing with energy, ready to pounce, while Songsinger is virtually made of contagious endorphins.
There is a compelling gravity and sturdiness to Ochoa’s work, despite the ambience of his characters. Nearly all of them draw in with their crystalline gazes wearing elaborate costumes, against bold, stark colors. This weight is emphasized by his use of collage, using layers upon layers, each little bit creating a bigger mass. Nearly every line and pattern of the wardrobe of his characters is a separate piece of paper, as though they were paper dolls. Each layer of would be textile – a shawl or pair of trousers in Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, a pair of socks in Raven Daughter – feature neat, flat, geometric patterns, creating a rhythmic embrace for each figure. Real beads, which are not without their sacred allusions, are used as jewelry and accents.
And then there are the Blue Bones, of a land-beast; painted blue and encased in glass display shells as though they were artifacts, or clues to what lies in the soil of Ochoa’s work. But these bones, as I learned from Ochoa himself, were in fact those of a deer found in the woods in Pennsylvania, far from his home in Texas. The Blue Bones along with the arrows, which were found at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, all came together as a segue for Ochoa’s artistic journey from San Antonio to New York. Ochoa took aim, fired, and has hit the bull’s eye in New York with this intelligent and emotionally impactful show. The Bones, the arrows in brick, the layers, the beads, the deities, all suspended here, in “Amalgamation.”