If you hired Botticelli, Lucian Freud, and a fashion photographer to produce portraits of mermaids, you might end up with something like the recent paintings of Wei Dong. Master of the chiaroscuro, Wei expertly imprints the rich Renaissance style onto modern themes. In the past, he’s often mixed in references to Mao’s cultural revolution and socialist realism—a Hoboken resident, Wei grew up in Inner Mongolia—but here, except for couple of army tunics, he has jettisoned his political past for grotesque twists on classical romance. Smiling Asian women in glamour poses (Wei freely borrows from fashion mags) bear scaly fish tails, sometimes in states of decay or dismemberment. In Interior View, a cat seems to have devoured the entrails spilling out from a woman’s gutted lower half. Another mermaid tries to free her tail from cement. In the most striking work, a saint-like figure with finned, fused-together legs (rendered with Freud’s lumpiness) rises from a still life while a horrified Chinese man seems to ask, “What in hell is going on here?” Wei offers few clues, but leaves you wanting more.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. Starts: March 11. Continues through April 4, 2009