It’s a pleasure to come across a new artist in Williamsburg like Samuel Lopes who uses a familiar vocabulary in a slightly unnerving way. Lopes’ show, “Sticks,” presents a series of linear paintings on varnished wood that depict a Utopian community of genderless human beings. Lopes plays with gender characteristics of his subjects, freely interchanging beards, dresses, pants, and sexual organs that confuse and ultimately negate the visual codes of gender identity. The surroundings of the community are reduced to the simple homes of the inhabitants, placing the emphasis on the activities and groupings of the characters. There is a subtle play with the limited values of color that do not suggest depth so much as the impermanence of the figures and the place. In one painting, the house in the background appears to be fading away as if such a hypothetical world could not last. The sense of isolation, impermanence, and emptiness undermine the hopeful activities of the members. It is a spare, melancholy show that mourns a beautiful idea, a society based on cooperation free from essentialist notions of fixed roles based on gender.
‘STICKS’: Samuel Lopes at Klaus von Nichtssagend
By William Powhida
April 1, 2006