by Carla Harms
At first glance, the explosion of color on Agustín Sabella’s salvaged canvases seems friendly – Pepsi cola bottle tops and retro television screens are packed in alongside smiling images of Captain America and pin-up girls. But like the double-eyed image of the docile boy imprinted on the glass wall of Ups! Art Gallery, a closer look reveals something darker lurking beneath the surface.
There is something that at once negates the cuteness of comic characters we know so well and calls into question the meaning behind some of America’s most well-known pop cultural icons. Part nostalgia, part criticism of consumerist culture, 99 ¢ Dreams is an exhibition of paintings and works on paper that both celebrates and denigrates the notion of the American dream.
A fanatic of the 60’s era, Sabella combines a Warholian approach of using images of everyday life from that period with hard-hitting English and Spanish textual statements that shock the viewer into thinking differently about the illustrations before them. Viewing Sabella’s works leaves you feeling as conflicted as the canvases themselves and ultimately reminds you that although some dreams may come cheap, you often get what you pay for.
Agustin Sabella, "99 ¢ Dreams"
Ups! Art Gallery
Showing until September 3, 2010