Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This review is provided to you by Marc Mannheimer. Here, He gives us a new perspective on the Dr. Lakra exhibit currently featured at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Dr.Lakra is a Mexican tattoo artist who bases his murals on traditional symbols in Phillipine, Maori, Thai and Chicano cultures. He carves these inspirations into images of vintage pin-up girls, mexican business men, Japanese sumo wrestlers, and luchadores. He covers their bodies with skulls, swastikas, dragons, devils, and numbers (in particular, the number "18" which is a direct indication to the 18th street gang) as an attempt to deface social constructs of beauty, consumerism, family values, and traditions. In the ICA, you will find these pieces curated in a three room exhibit. There is also a large two wall mural painted by Dr. Lakra in light of his US debut.

During its first couple weeks on view, several articles were written in regards to what the ICA considers to be "playful, naughty, and often intentionally vulgar" that ultimately "challenges social norms by blurring cultural identities." The Boston Globe, Weekly Dig and Phoenix (to name a few) printed favoring reviews, overall condoning any flaw within the museum's curation. Thus, I leave it to Marc "MCCLUMP" Mannheimer to counteract these opinions with a brief interpretation of his own.

Lakra's work is all about surface. For me the gimmick wore off after the 7th or 8th one. While I appreciated his appropriation of diverse images and his obvious eye for form and the unusual, these were works that didn't resonate. There were a number of his pieces that did effect me such as the insect-parts portraits and his take on the Mexican convention of family cut-outs. The only work that stood out for me was the mural on the back wall, Not the one comprised of African & Meso-American sculptures. Here he was painting, composing and playing with the space. This didn't seem so contrived as most of the other images did. The erotic photos weren't, but that was probably his point. What operated for me was eventually his work became, "Hey, what can I paint tattoos on now?" Very, hip, now and surface. Not intellectual, though of course art needn't be.

Marc and I became good friends while I was working at a local gelateria over the summer 2009. He has spent time in Italy, indulging in Renaissance culture and creating his own pieces from the country's mystical air of beauty and inspiration. With great knowledge in the field of art, he has always been a reliable source and mentor for my anxious self, looking to reach further into the historical content and purpose of an artist's work. I have always enjoyed his retrospective insights and his ability to reach beyond typical observations in the least pretentious way. With this, I felt inclined to share his points of view with the Tea Room readers.

Hey! It might even be more refreshing than a Iced Tea Boba @Urth Cafe (LA) or a revitalizing cup of Mate @ L'Aroma (BOSTON). Either way, Bebelotodo!

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