University of california, irvine | SUPER SONIC

Sweats of The Superhero Bomb Pop




Dec 2003 - Jan 2004

by Rae Anne Robinett

Welcome to the Albert Lopez, Jr. Show—where sweet and sticky histories melt in your mouth and all over your hand.  His multi-media installation of three monumental-sized canvases, of the vertically oriented persuasion, formed plastic ice-cube/urinal trays (conveniently oriented at both crotch and eye level) as well as a low floating ice-cream sandwich/coffin stack are comprised of the peculiar particulars skimmed from the surface of a thick, impenetrable skin of memory, hard, dirty work, and desire. 

Enticingly colorful and possessed of a ferocious, decorative aggression, this installation visually prickles with the dull pain of acute deferral and denial—when that which seems easily obtainable, remains perpetually beyond our grasp.  Much like the glory, dark and dependent, of an American comic book hero (or superpower); the gamble and risk of playing Lotteria®, a deceptive Mexican game of chance (loaded with loveable, dangerous stereotypes); or a hot summer day of reckoning and a frozen delicacy we were not able to buy.  These signs—of superheroes, playing cards, and ice cream castles—are imbued with the excitement of life as well as the promise of death.

Active and transfixed against their timeless and infinite, creamy white backgrounds, the all-academy oil on canvas works read like strays, lost from a well-loved pack of Cultural Confluence playing cards (coming soon to a toy store near you).  However, these pops are not of the degraded, homemade variety; they are not like the homemade suit of Peter Parker, Spiderman’s alter ego.  They belong to the realm of unobtainable, high-end desire; Le Cheval académique, if you will, as opposed to a hippopotamus; “The hippo is fat; it sweats; it is in danger of melting, as, occasionally, are paintings.”  Lopez, Jr.’s installation is both academic horse and sweating hippo, each bringing to bear their own brands of pride and shame.  Commencing attack through the retina, the poignancy grips at the heart and freezes the throat at the memory of bearing witness to the pleasure of possession you seemed to always be denied. something that has once again been adapted to the needs of others throughsombrerossarapes, floral buggies, and a vintage-inspired Polaroid with the “half ass donkey” that documents their visit.

George Bataille, “Le Cheval academic” (The Academic Horse), Documents 1 (1929), no.1, pp.27-31.

 Yve-Alain Bois, “Sweats of the Hippo,” in Formless: A User’s Guide (New York: Zone Books, 1997), 180.