All Too Human

Three painters depict the oddness of ordinary life.

Television and movies hype reality; real life is interesting in a
more idiosyncratic way. The satirical paintings of Richard
Kramer
, Dickson Schneider, and Raymond Wong
collectively entitled, in an appropriately eccentric manner, Queen
& Country
, point up the strangeness of the familiar.

Kramer’s paintings seem to be based on family snapshots that are
occasionally combined, creating discomfiting domestic dramas. In
“Building Models” a generic, Central Casting dad and his eight-year-old
son (in car-print pajamas) sit at a card table in front of the
living-room TV, the man scowling while holding a plastic airplane, and
the boy beaming, while a sashed and swimsuited beauty queen smiles to
unseen spectators. “Halloween 2005” derives from the familiar familial
flash photo of Trick-or-Treaters, but the unadorned faces of the older
kids seem as disturbing as the masked face of the younger child, who is
posed like Munch’s screaming homunculus. “The Wedding Party” depicts
ungainly teen boys, all hands and feet, coolly killing time in a drably
anonymous banquet room.

Schneider depicts stylized figures with huge eyes and lips, sloping
foreheads, and spindly, rubbery bodies, in tableaux satirizing art
(paintings by Fragonard, Mondrian, Currin, and Yuskavage) and fashion
(“Value Contrast,” with its sober black mother and chic, shallow New
Look daughter). “Hearts and Minds” replaces the hero who faced down the
Tiananmen tanks with a slim blond Dior fashionista. “Dia Beacon,” named
after a New York museum of contemporary art, presents a trio of young
urbanites beating up a huddled (and badly dressed) woman in an alley;
it’s a secular Flagellation, and Schneider’s most compelling painting
here.

Wong depicts incongruous situations as well, but his theme is
dislocation, or deracination, to judge from one of his painting titles.
In “DMZ,” a Chinese guard or soldier wanders though a deserted Office
Max parking lot. The pudgy, phlegmatic swimmer in “Ex Astris, Scientia”
seems unaware of the space shot transpiring in the background, despite
his casual victory gesture. In “Queen and Country” a man rides a woman
piggyback past a bobbing-bird oil pump; both smilingly peer into the
distance. Queen and Country runs through March 1 at Autobody
Fine Art
(1517 Park St., Alameda). 510-865-2608.

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