Frogs & Dogs
October 9 – November 20, 2021
The vice-ridden allegory, if you will, is told through provocative personalities that are simultaneously mischievous and vulnerable. Many of Boadwee’s frogs are found nimbly interacting with the environment, as if copping an attitude that says, “anything goes.” The dogs attempt their best poker faces with a desperation that is betrayed by dangling tongues and cigarettes, magnified through liquid layers. The artist enhances moods through optical plays with water, reflection, shadow and symmetry. Gazing directly at the viewer, the subjects’ eyes are multiplied, with their feelings infused through transparent barriers that include fishbowls, vases and cocktail glasses.
In Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, a slinky frog reclines over a fallen vase, whose rosy pool provides reflections of green limbs. The frog gazes upward into the satiny folds of a bent tulip, perhaps fantasizing about an object of affection. Nearby, a portrait of another, more masculine-looking frog, hangs on the wall, also extending a bent tulip and confident smile. Stoically self-contained, these characters may be on the verge of imploding within an inner landscape of passion and ferocity, albeit an endearing and subdued one. We, however, are not so sure they won’t pounce at any moment. Adding to this paradox are childlike, pastel hues comprising many of the main figures, often contrasted with bold, vacant backgrounds.
The Lady from Shanghai shows a lasciviously glaring pink and grey poodle, whose long red tongue exposes a thirst that can’t quite be quenched. The dog’s tail is erect and seen at its side, while its eyes are shown trifold through a rectangular fishbowl. A second pair of eyes belonging to a cigarette smoking goldfish, stares at the viewer with a cool, collected gaze.
In Vodka Rocks with a Twist, a dark green frog is fixated on the viewer through a cocktail glass grasped at eye level. Its intense gaze reflects through the surface of the drink’s contents, including the ice cube and lemon rind floating within it. A cool stream of cigarette smoke cuts through a blank pink backdrop: The frog may very well spend hours on end awaiting a cue from a forbidden target.
With cozy settings, charming hosts and the right cocktail in hand (“Make mine a double!”), Boadwee comically manages to make his dark, unsettling themes go down easy. Through these reflected layers, we may, perhaps, capture glimmers of our own hardships, emotional and otherwise.
Cover image: installation view, Frogs & Dogs; all images courtesy The Pit