Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"The Edge of Night" - Max Maslansky at 5 Car Garage, Venice Beach, California

In Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 film, "Boogie Nights," Anderson tells the story of the rise and fall of fictional porn actor Dirk Diggler. Diggler is portrayed as both the active participant and ultimate victim; an innocent lured by the eroticism and money of the porn industry.

Max Maslansky, in his current exhibition paintings introduces the viewer to Dennis Posa, aka Dennis Parker, aka Wade Nichols (1946 – 1985), an actor and singer from Freeport, New York who started his career in pornographic films. His first feature film role was probably in the 1975 gay adult film Boynapped! He subsequently appeared mostly in straight porn films shot in New York and Los Angeles.

In 1979, under the name of Dennis Parker, he recorded a solo disco album on Casablanca Records entitled "Like an Eagle", produced by Village People creator/producer Jacques Morali. Buoyed by his singing career, Posa (still as Dennis Parker) joined the cast of the mainstream television soap opera "The Edge of Night" in 1979 as Police Chief Derek Mallory. All the while, he continued to appear in pornographic films as Wade Nichols.

Having contracted the AIDS virus and seriously ill by October 1984, Posa died in March of 1985.

Maslansky in his work uses the color palette of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the Fauves, the Nabis, and Symbolism, to create a narrative that is reminiscent of the film "Boogie Nights." The paintings show the eroticism that is captivating and provocative. Maslansky uses color and composition as a lure to the viewer, almost abstract in the rendering of the figures, and yet keeps the viewer at a distance. Maslansky both celebrates and laments this time when sexual decadence was prevalent and free of care.

However, initially one does not get the sense of both tragedy and loss when the viewer looks at these paintings. Maslansky focuses on the height of his career and sexual experiences. The paintings act as, a contemporary vanitas. The vanitas is a work of art (mainly still life) that reflects on the transience of life, and the fleeting love of pleasure, luxury and wealth. The vanitas basically informs the viewer that all luxury and material possessions are left on this Earth at death. In the case of Posa, and as portrayed in Maslansky's paintings, we are witnesses to both the fame, and the decadence that will eventually cost Posa his life. The pleasure is a fleeting experience that is left when we are gone.

Max Maslansky's previous solo exhibitions were held at Emma Gray HQ, Los Angeles in 2011 and Cherry and Martin in 2007. He was recently included in "Made in L.A. 2014" at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; further group exhibitions include those held at Night Gallery, Los Angeles, Gavin Brown's Enterprise New York, and The Woodmill GP, London in 2014. He will be having solo exhibitions at Galerie Sebastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland and Honor Fraser, Los Angeles in 2015. Max Maslansky lives and works in Los Angeles.

5 CAR GARAGE is a private exhibition space, by the beach-ish and by appt only. Please contact the gallery at info@emmagrayhq.com to plan your visit and get location/map.

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