Indianapolis Art Center, Churchman-Fehenfeld Gallery; through Feb. 12
Lori Larusso creates art of decidedly twisted beauty which seems to simultaneously question and laud suburban/middle-American existence, a thematic territory similar to Hillerbrand + Magsamen’s House/Hold, conveniently exhibited in an adjacent gallery. Each painting is bright and visually enticing, with a healthy dose of sarcastic charm. There isn’t a square painting to be found here; the entire exhibition is comprised of acrylic on dramatically shaped panels.
Larusso's seemingly mundane, domestic scenes are always devoid of humans, with a keen focus on architecture and sharp lines, sometimes featuring unexpected animals. Her painterly style is crisp and expressive, with a great eye for surprisingly pleasant groupings of color. Descriptively titled paintings such as “Pet Pile,” “Hungry Heart,” and “Neat Mess” depict first-world problems in a lighthearted, playful way.
Larusso explains in her artist statement that “the edge of the painted image defines the edge of the actual support. This body of work includes only the necessary information needed to complete the idea and composition, leaving out any unnecessary or extra space.” This strategy is incredibly well-played; the paintings feel like pages in pop-up books, and they recall certain works by Ellsworth Kelly insofar as feeling three dimensional while still sitting flat on the wall.
The only detractor here is the lack of a completely smooth surface in some paintings; seeing the texture of the panel or a brushstroke takes away from the perfection these pieces are so close to achieving.