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Camille Rose Garcia's "Ambien Somnambulants" at Jonathan LeVine

Juxtapoz // Friday, 22 Aug 2008

Camille Rose Garcia (Juxtapoz cover #62) returns to Jonathan LeVine Gallery to present Ambien Somnambulants, a solo exhibition featuring new works by the artist.

For Garcia’s second solo show at the gallery she will unveil a new series of original paintings, drawings, and a site-specific installation. In Ambien Somnambulants, tragic sleepwalkers wander along beautifully bleak post-apocalyptic dreamscapes, inspiring dissent from a dire dystopia.

Garcia’s stunningly subversive images expand upon her signature style of elaborate socio-political narratives, hidden beneath layers of fairy-tale charm. The artist creates human and animal characters, influenced by a vintage animation aesthetic, which aid in her epic visual storytelling, rendered in a palette of psychedelic color, glitter, and glazed-over collaged wallpaper. Her use of bright color serves as a visual distraction from painful realities, while her use of silver leaf as a decorative element, references an age of abundance and opulence, slightly tarnished to represent the twilight years of our civilization.

Referencing concepts from Snow White, The Matrix, Soylent Green, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Garcia combines Disney references with paranoid social theories and fatal prophesies about the dangers of detachment in troubled times.

Ambien, the sleeping pill, is used as a metaphor for our sedated populace being controlled by corporate empires such as the pharmaceutical industry, while the world crumbles around us. The complacency of our culture and lack of outrage over the current state of affairs (loss of liberties, soaring national debt, and depleting natural resources) form central themes, told in a series of disjointed tableaux, in which the artist describes how “a powerful witch delivers apples poisoned with sleep elixir to the ambien somnambulents, a sleepwalking army of fancy dressed revelers, innocent and content in their dream world of complete denial.” With the absence of sustainable capitalism and renewable energy sources, our self-destructive society sinks deeper into its own demise, controlled by fear and distraction through fantasy propaganda and escapism. World catastrophes both environmental and military, threaten even the most privileged of lives, as over-population and overindulgence lead to an inevitable fate of gloom and global disorder.

Camille Rose Garcia was born in 1970 in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in the generic suburbs of Orange County, visiting Disneyland and going to punk shows with the other disenchanted youth of that era. Her paintings of creepy cartoon children living in wasteland fairy tales are critical commentaries on the failures of capitalist utopias, blending nostalgic pop references with a satirical slant on modern society. Creative influences include Phillip K. Dick, William Burroughs, Henry Darger, and Walt Disney.

In 2007, her work was the subject of a mid-career survey at the San Jose Museum of Art. The retrospective, entitled Tragic Kingdom: The Art of Camille Rose Garcia, was the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. She has pieces in the permanent collection there, as well as in the Los Angeles Museum of Art. The artist currently lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.

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