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Exploring the Neo-Grotesque

The Neo-Grotesque genre has been quietly brewing on the outskirts of the contemporary art scene over the last few decades – so quietly, in fact, that it was only recently given a name. “The term Neo-Grotesque was recently coined for the resurgence of artists working with subject matter traditionally deemed unattractive or repulsive, but representing them in a sympathetic manner in a highly formal technical style.” More than that, it’s a modern exploration of the intriguing dissonance between the grotesque and the sublime. Concentrated mostly in painting, though often photography as well (think Cindy Sherman’s horrifying prosthetics series), the Neo-Grotesque style is generally lush and figurative, driven by narrative or allegory. Of course, as with any art form, these rules are often broken, but the unifying thread remains in the movement’s overall sense of history, its devotion to realism and its delight in our reaction to it.

Going on now at SOHO’s ISE Cultural Foundation, Another Roadside Attraction is the latest celebration of the form. The group show features twelve artists whose work ranges from printmaking, photography, painting and sculpture. Julie Anne Mann (below), one of the sculptors in the show, creates composites of various animal bones and other plant and animal matter whereas Christian Rex van Minnen takes an approach that’s more in tune with the roots of the Neo-Grotesque with his Hieronymus Bosch-inspired painting.

Another Roadside Attraction at the ISE Cultural Foundation, today through December 31, 2010.