The humdrum rhythm of domestic life seeps into Richard Quebral’s Scene on the Shoreline of Somewhere Beautiful, a solo exhibition that borrows episodes from the artist’s personal life. Prosaic matters such as leaving for work, drawing a bath, and pumping iron are translated into cartoonish mixed-media canvases in pastel shades of pink and green.
Five large canvases depicting snatches of life, illumined by Quebral’s lengthy and descriptive titles, reveal the comings-and-goings of a real-life couple living under one roof.
Take a work called And the Pinocchio Syndrome Activates Again, which shows a man in tasseled leather loafers stepping into the threshhold of his home. He is greeted by the sight of a woman, shown only from the waist down, lounging in front of the television as an abandoned iron steams in the background. The elongated nose and the painting’s title speak of the obvious little lies concocted by the guilty party while being interrogated for an unplanned night out. Like a TV sitcom that turns mundane human interactions into entertainment, Quebral’s cheerful palette and lighthearted touch freshen up a scenario that should be familiar to the point of being unremarkable.
The everyday tedium of Scene on the Shoreline of Somewhere Beautiful is spiced up by the intimate aspects of coupledom. Phallic images in the form of cones — traffic and ice cream, all of them strategically placed and spurting — litter Quebral’s canvases. The Day Seven Seas Got Ruined after They All Thought the Door Was Closed goes a step further by showing a couple in flagrante delicto. Mouths, priapic plants, and spouts of liquid imbue the show with sexual overtones, a feature of Quebral’s work.
While these domestic escapades take place in a house, they are not at all private. “Scene,” in the exhibition title, is a pun on “seen,” and is a reference to the squiggly pink eyes watching from windows or squirming and wiggling across the floor.
Already a recurring motif, the eye is also the main element in a series of sculptural wall-bound works shaped like houses with feet. The idea of spectating once again brings up the TV sitcom analogy and the disclaimer “filmed in front of a live studio audience.” Quebral is both audience and performer in Scene on the Shoreline of Somewhere Beautiful, a comedy that plays out in his own bathroom, living room, and bedroom. — ll