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'Smoking Kills A selection of works by Adriana Lara' on view at Dairy Art Centre, London
Adriana Lara, Grapes-Raisins, 2006-2011.

LONDON.- Dairy Art Centre is presenting Smoking Kills, a Centre-curated exhibition of works by Adriana Lara made between 2006–2012. Comprising a variety of media—sculpture, screen-print, block-print, readymades and installation—the show focuses on the artist’s expansive research on visual language.

Mediating the galleries are several Symbol Faces works from a series of screen-printed stretched plastic paintings. Here affable genderless faces composed of type symbols (characters such as &, $, %, *, #, !) overlap transparent photographs of a Mexican actress who had a brief and marginally successful career in Mexico, Hollywood and Broadway during the 1930s. Being a cypher to a contemporary audience, this actress represents the sex symbol as the blank canvas that all symbols inevitably are. From aesthetic categories of colour and format, surface and structure, to categorical stereotypes of gender and nationality, the diverse prints presented in the Symbol Faces are thought of as patterns of what concerns contemporary thought.

Lara’s Smoking Kills series comprises several inkjet reproductions on linen of the fronts of iconic cigarette packets. The process of printing the images onto linen in some instances leads to the colour bleeding. As a result they retain a different surface presence that sets them apart from the perfectly mass produced originals, but still incite the viewer to consider the politics of desire and the emotion of the consumer. A new market place exists for these reworked products; the art market rather than the tobacconist’s kiosk.

Through the encounter with the typographic characters and cigarette packages, the reception of Lara’s Symbol Faces and Smoking Kills relate to the post-conceptual style associated with commonplace objects. Yet Lara draws a clear line away from neat, industrial fabrication.

Slanted Brown, 2011, produced during her autumn 2011 show, La pintura (lasser) moderna at House of Gaga in Mexico City, wherein “wearable paintings” were the subject of the opening night fashion show/art performance. The male and female models were skilled street performers and walked layered and accessorised in fabric printed from a recycled article, plastic raffia, CDs, cheap mobile phones and other trashy-chic junk. Slanted Brown is an example of one of the painings Lara made from these materials and then hung in the gallery, swapping them out one at a time as they were completed throughout the duration of the show.

Lara is constantly exploring issues of re-presentation, exemplified by Grapes/Raisins (2006–2011), which mirrors the natural life cycle of organic matter. Made from a tree branch and fully inflated green balloons, the orbs gradually lose air throughout the duration of the show until deflated, withered like a grape that has become a raisin.

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