Tales of the Flesh 2: Born Adversaries : Carole Caroompas / Patrick Lee / Aaron Sheppard

October 13 - October 24, 2016
Open Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 - 4:00 PM

Opening Reception Thursday October 13, 5:00 - 9:00 PM

4619 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016

Carole Caroompas Fairy Tales: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), 1989, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 inches

Carole Caroompas
Fairy Tales: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), 1989, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 inches

Western Project is proud to present a group exhibition, Tales of the Flesh Part 2: Born Adversaries, featuring Carole Caroompas, Patrick Lee and Aaron Sheppard at FOUR SIX ONE NINE (4619 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016) Each artist works and lives in Southern California and has exhibited numerous times with the gallery. This special pop up exhibition highlights a second look at work that addresses the human figure as a narrative source. All three artists work with the body/figure as an origin of story telling for political, social, historical and/or erotic purposes.

Carole Caroompas is perhaps the most underrated yet influential painter of her generation, producing 30 plus years of hard-core figurative works unlike any other female counterpart. As an artist she is no Joan of Arc martyr of the early feminist moment, but more the Hindu Kali figure disrupting and fiercely reconfiguring ideas and images. Caroompas has never settled for simplistic questions or answers, and her work has never been polite. It challenges our notions of power and gender, and relationships between men and women, most often in large, epic scale works; monster-scale cosmologies dissecting our cultural assumptions of what is normal and/or true. Her use of collaged imagery creates a fragmented, non-linear narrative; on first glance appearing as the dream-like nature of the mind but is instead a highly organized composition. Her signature format is a visual and conceptual overload: a Surrealistic collage aesthetic on steroids.

Included in this exhibition are works from the series, Fairy Tales (1988 - 1990), and Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman That Knew Too Much (from 1991 - 1994).  In these pieces Caroompas reworks our assumptions - as she has written “to deconstruct sexist and authoritarian perspective in order to retell and reconstruct the narrative”. It is a kind of gleeful (and theatrical) remapping or rewriting of cultural binary norms: scripting alternate histories and myths as incisive new sets of possibilities. In both the Grimms’ Fairytale series and Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much, the artist uses a heavy dose of humor to cajole the viewer through her kaleidoscopic imagery. Violence, sex and humor become a lethal combo, echoing the exciting and disturbing films of Russ Meyer or Quentin Tarantino. The difference is, she is not kidding. In the same way science fiction can talk about psychological and ethical issues (a la Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein), Caroompas’ tales evoke hopes of a new world; outlaw at first glance, ultimately as romantic as the Sex Pistols Here Comes The Bullocks. In our age of seven billion plus hall monitors, it is remarkable to witness conviction without compromise.

Patrick Lee Deadly Friends (Bullet Chain), 2014, graphite on paper, 16 x 1

Patrick Lee
Deadly Friends (Bullet Chain), 2014, graphite on paper, 16 x 1

The drawings of Patrick Lee have for twenty years dealt with the poignancy of human experience. Creating immensely detailed portraits of real people found on the streets of America, his work has a profundity and presence not typically found in academic portraiture. Quite possibly because he is interested in people on the fringe of American culture: the poor, addicted, abused or unlucky. His graphite drawings are typically one and a half size larger than human scale, producing a monumentality unassociated with depictions of the downtrodden. Using photographs of his subjects as well as long interviews, Lee is able to conjure a likeness that has tangible feeling more than pure accurateness. He is fascinated with ideas of masculinity: how it is acquired and developed for power and sex, along with its shifting qualities. His interest in the outer edges of society are its’ reflection; appearances mask the vital essence of our humanity. Unlike the bleak realism of Ingmar Berman’s films, Lee’s images are perhaps more similar to the humanist film work of Jean-Luc Goddard. Lee’s images point only to the subjects, not the artist or the art world. His drawings emanate a kind of dignity and respect that is not romanticized or illustrated. It appears only in the minds’ recognition of a tangible ‘us-ness’ of his images. They are us and we are them: scarred, tattooed, drugged and impoverished. But simultaneously magnificent.

Aaron Sheppard is an artist’s artist. His work traverses painting, sculpture, drawing, performance, and installation. The new Double Wide With Hydra, is his version of Dürer's Feast of the Rosary from 1506. Sheppard’s sensibility has always appeared profane, gritty and often taboo, but internally contains the humility of spiritual adoration. He thematically hopscotches across time, history and styles often using classical compositions as a trope to explore more fluid ideas about desire and sexuality. From the formal religious painting Feast of the Rosary, Sheppard has created a circus barge of characters:

“A Victorian mermaid queen with two vaginas allows Dante closer examination of her "second beauty". Baby Jesus fish crowns Captain Nemo while he himself gets crowned by the fangs of Leviathan. Eek the Geek waits in line to meet the Mer-Queen, as do characters from Alice in Wonderland, a pregnant Zulu princess, Judas, a dragon, a clown, a cannibal, Death...even Dürer himself. They flank her like kids at the mall waiting to sit on Santa's lap. A barker donning Gallagher's top hat hands out halos and urinates on the crowd."

Aaron Sheppard DETAIL: Double Wide with Hydra , 2016, mixed media, 90 x 216 inches

Aaron Sheppard
DETAIL: Double Wide with Hydra , 2016, mixed media, 90 x 216 inches

He often presents human biological variation as  gifted saints come to deliver a different message: life is all forms, and desires all forms. Mary as mermaid with two vaginas. Is this reverence, blasphemy or Bhakti? Is this a divine freak show? Dante is beguiled and bewitched by his desire as are all the figures surrounding the mermaid. This work addresses his question, “is it not possible to have earthly and heavenly delights simultaneously? Use and enjoy it all while still properly expressing love? Have your cake and eat it too (without losing/off with your head)?”

Sheppard’s enormous 20 foot painting is mural size, nearly identical to the scale of Ensor’sChrist’s Entry Into Brussels from 1889. Both share an expressionistic quality and energy; each event stylistically depicted with grotesque figures enhancing the pathos of human drama. Additionally, his paint quality is forcefully ragged yet calculated. It is a kind of pop or camp expressionism, able to suggest the emotionality and fervor of sex and desire; a fury of exaggeration in which Life is seen as flourishing.

The right panel of Double Wide may contain another moral tale: in a cave Hercules is battling the Leviathan threatening the mermaid, while his own penis is sprouting into the Hydra itself. Consumed by one’s own craving? It is perhaps the similar path.

Sheppard gives no answers except to suggest that the complexity of mortal life is to be enjoyed; variance is a gift, the pageantry is to be participated in, and living is immediate and vital. However in another moment, he writes, “I don’t know what it is all about. Fantasy and fish, piss and cherub cock…”


It is all good. 


Carole Caroompas’ work was recently include in, Romancing the West: A Legacy of American Images, William Roland Fine Art Gallery at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California and Lore and Behold: The Art of Carole Caroompas, at The Boone Family Gallery at Pasadena City College, Pasadena California. She has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in D.C. She has also been the recipient of numerous artist grants such as, National Endowment for the Arts (twice), The Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. 

In September 2016, Patrick Lee is the subject of a Solo Exhibition and Drawing Workshop at the Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia. He has had numerous national and international exhibitions. He was included in, Drawings for the New Century, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, B-B-B-BAD, an exhibition with attitudes, at Anna Kustera Gallery, New York, Male at Maureen Paley Gallery, London, UK, curated by Vince Aletti, and Lush Life at Salon 94, New York. He has also exhibited at Ameringer McEnery Yohe in New York, the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, University of La Verne, La Verne, California, Howard House in Seattle, Washington, and the Marc Selwyn Gallery in Los Angeles, California. He is in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Georgia Museum of Fine Arts, Georgia, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. He is also a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation grant for 2006.

Aaron Sheppard recently appeared in the Nameless Skypeband performing at Sraatliche Akademie Der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe (Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe, Germany), performed and inaugurated Bearded and Shucked, 1st Annual Mermaid Parade, Joshua Tree, California. He is a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation Achievement Award. He has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria, Volume 1E Brooklyn, New York, and galleries in Tokyo, Beijing, London, Las Vegas and Washington DC. Sheppard has performed in “Conceptualizing the Body: Gaze, Masquerade, and Spectacle”, at SUNY College in Old Westbury, New York, the Fringe Festival in Australia, and shown video in, Maid in China(town), Chinese Biennale, Ku Art Center, Beijing China. His work has been written about in BOMB magazine, Artillery, The Huffington Post, Las Vegas Weekly, among many others.


11 YEARS - Anniversary Group Show: December 6 - 23, 2014

11th year Anniversary Exhibition

Ron Athey / Josh Bolin / Daniel Brice / Thomas Burke / Carole Caroompas / Cole Case / Alec Egan / Samantha Fields / Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose / Tim Forcum / Eric Freeman / Sush Machida Gaikotsu / Margaret Griffith / Dion Johnson / Ali Kheradyar / Patrick Lee / Joe Lloyd / Zachari Logan / Bob Mizer / Matthew Penkala / Nancy Riegelman / Chad Robertson / Joe Schmelzer / Nicolas Shake / Aaron Sheppard / Arne Svenson / Christian Tedeschi / Tom of Finland / Mark Dean Veca / Wayne White / Jessica Wimbley

Western Project proudly presents our 11th Year Anniversary Exhibition marking a decade and a year of programming. As one of the pioneer galleries of the Culver City arts district, the show will include gallery artists and some special guests; each an irregular, unruly and often impolite force of nature, all burdened with the disease of individual thinking and a call to find a greater depth of human experience. We celebrate with abandon and humor, knowing our job is yet unfinished.

pink box : Aaron Sheppard Performance with Sylva Hattington - July 26, 2014 - 7:00-9:00 PM PERFORM CHINATOWN 2014 : CHAOS REIGNS

pink box, Aaron Sheppard performance with Sylva Hattington July 26, 2014, 7:00-9:30pm – at L.A.’s 6th Annual PERFORM CHINATOWN 2014 : CHAOS REIGNS

Curators / Doug Harvey, Lee Lynch, Paige Wery

For 2 1/2 hours, Sheppard and Hattington were closed inside a transparent and metal box measuring 48” x 48” x 13” and attached 10-feet above the ground on the facade of The Arcade building at 936 1/2 Mei Ling Way (across from New Dragon Restaurant and down from Hop Louie’s Bar). The two performers repeatedly changed restricting positions within the box while caressing one another’s bodies in a public display of affection. A water hose was attached to the box which kept the couple’s entangled bodies wet, and transformed the box itself into a steamy sauna dripping with a constant pitter-patter of rain.

The light box was pre-existing signage that had at one time been used as advertising, left to sit vacant for years. For pink box Sheppard and Hattington stripped the box of its electrical, replaced brittle and aged plexiglas with new vibrant fluorescent panes, and painted the structure pink. The performance within then became something video-esque and surreal to the eye, contrasting with the environment and landscape.

pink box was video-taped from two different angles: from close-up inside, and; from street-level outside the box (videography by Jaime Scholnick and Sally Coates).





The sixth edition of L.A.’s premier performance art gathering will present over 40 performers, distributed across a host of Chinatown galleries and public spaces on the 26th of July between 12 Noon and 10 PM.

This year’s rendition pools the complementary curatorial talents of Doug Harvey (Chain Letter, LA Weekly Annual Biennials), Lee Lynch (The Murder of Hi Good, headmaster of Teenage Wasteland of the Arts), and Paige Wery (The Good Luck Gallery, Artillery magazine).

Perform Chinatown 2014 : CHAOS REIGNS! stretches the boundaries of Performance Art to include live experimental music, historical reenactments, survivalist workshops, guided meditation rituals, chess tournaments, poetry, dance, video, and food – as well as the cutting edge New Genre happenings that define the field.

Some of the noteworthy happenings scheduled include: - a rare appearance by legendary media prankster Joey Skaggs; - a ritual invocation of Eris, Goddess of Chaos, by Skylaire Alfvegren and the Southern California Discordian Society - the premiere of Hipponymous -- a righteous new performance work by the Reverend Ethan Acres; - a live video feed of performances in Tehran, Iran organized by Maryan Vayghan - Brad Spence providing “Free Airbrush Body Paintings” to the public - DJ sets by Don Bolles, steve roden, and KCHUNG Radio; - Everything is Terrible – the Ride by eponymous psychedelic found footage comedy website mavens - former Los Angeles Cacophony Society “leader” Al Ridenour bringing Krampus in July - the first live performance by F (Marnie Weber, Dani Tull, Doug Harvey, & Daniel Hawkins), since the Mike Kelley LAFMS memorial at The Box; - a Human 4-Leaf Clover of Positive Energy led by China Adams


Aaron Sheppard: Five New Paintings

March 31 – May 5, 2012In the West Room

Opening reception for the artist: Saturday March 31st 6-8pm

Western Project is proud to present new paintings by Aaron Sheppard in the West Room. Now a resident of Los Angeles, Sheppard is continuing his exploration on myths of the creation of man and woman, especially from the 16th century artist Jan Harmensz Muller. Using a variety of elements and collage, Sheppard constructs a brew of familiar yet exotic narrative imagery. He writes:

“I seek to objectify the materiality of the mediums used (paint, neon resin,,,), showcase the study of line work, and highlight issues of human identity, while hoping to have the sensual relationship with each of these items resonate……I ponder a spectrum of ideas about perspective, composition, beauty, ethics, historical evolution, perception, “perversions”….

It is Sheppard’s hallmark to upset the applecart of expectations about human and sexual identities, blurring all boundaries and definitions. His exquisite line drawing is a seductive vine to lead the viewer into a world where there exist fantastic visions and unexpected couplings. It is a leap into a possibly more real depiction of the multiplicity of life – the hidden and pleasurable actions of the unspoken.

Aaron Sheppard is a recent recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation Achievement Award.  He has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria, Volume 1E Brooklyn, New York, and galleries in Tokyo, Beijing, London, Las Vegas and Washington DC. Sheppard has performed in “Conceptualizing the Body: Gaze, Masquerade, and Spectacle”, at SUNY College in OldWestbury, New York, the Fringe Festival in Australia, and shown video in, Maid in China(town), Chinese Biennale, Ku Art Center, Beijing China. His work has been written about in BOMB magazine, Artillery, The Huffington Post, Las Vegas Weekly, among others.

In The Main Gallery: ERIC FREEMAN: New Paintings

Aaron Sheppard: Yonic Inversion / New Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings / 2010

For Immediate Release: AARON SHEPPARD / Yonic Inversion: New Paintings, Sculpture, and Drawings October 23 - Decembre 23, 2010

Western Project is proud to present the Los Angeles debut exhibition by Aaron Sheppard. An MFA graduate from UNLV in 2009, Sheppard's conceptually elaborate works dredge Eros from the ether; monuments of erotic iconography, they are untamed and obsessive. His imagery is Dionysian and fantastic, recalling the power of story telling from a stew of sources: mythology, Rodin, religion, allegory, folklore, the glitter and grit of the Las Vegas strip, Martin Buber, William Blake, Robert Gober, Gore Vidal's novel, Myra Breckenridge, and 19th century Austrian Decadent movement artist, Franz Von Bayros. Titled, Yonic Inversion, the artist addresses ideas of desire and cultural norms to illuminate the unexpected; the taboo and the sacred are turned upside down or inside out; definitions of gender and societal roles are veiled - as Myra Breckinridge pronounced: "Nothing is what it seems and what nothing seems is false".

Sheppard's series of square Malebox sculptures uses the glory hole as an inverted Yoni, a Hindu symbol of the female sexual organ and origin of life. It is a waist high performative sculpture alluding to the minimalist language of Donald Judd, in a burlesque Home Depot attitude using neon and drywall.

The large cast aluminum sculpture Phal-Fem is an inverted image from a Franz Von Bayros etching; confusing and reordering the gender and content of the original portrait into an alluring and hybrid construct. His painting, A Symmetry references William Blake's dark and swirling watercolors, huge in scale, and adorned with six foot wooden tusks; his female sea goddess rises from the water, a naked warrior of this plane or a horned siren of the nether world?

Shakti SME is an ode to a deceased friend and muse of the artist; a work blurring the boundaries between the divine and profane; neon tubes pour milk white light from breast-like udders, similar to the famed Artemis fountain at the Villa d Este, and simultaneously a side show spectacle.These works are not summations, but questions; glimpses of a larger whole. Sheppard collages concepts and materials to redefine the erotic, the sublime, the historic and the spiritual.

A co-conspirator in this realm, musician/songwriter Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons) writes:  "Dancing with his casket, Christ becomes a wife", acknowledging the transformation of perception and identity possible - one thing becomes another and another becomes something else; more, one thing illuminates another, the fixed is the illusion.

Sheppard has exhibited at the Fringe Festival in Australia, and in galleries in New York, Tokyo, Beijing, London, Las Vegas and Washington DC.

For information and images, contact the gallery at 310.838.0609

cliff@western-project.com / erin@western-project.com

Tales of the Flesh: Group Show / 2009

June 13 – July 18, 2009

Carole Caroompas Kaitlynn Redell Aaron Sheppard Arne Svenson Liz Young

Western Project is proud to present Tales of the Flesh, a group exhibition examining the human figure as a narrative source. Each of these five artists work with the figure/body as an origin of story telling for political, social, historical and/or erotic purposes. Carole Caroompas has used the figure for thirty years to examine issues of power and gender between men and women. Her series, Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much, reworks our assumptions of relationships and myths in ribald and collaged imagery. Her use of the figure is theatrical, incisive and verges on the taboo. Newcomer Kaitlynn Redell cuts and reassembles rock and movie posters to illuminate our notions of ‘the exotic’ and its racist implications in inherent in Western Pop culture. Redell’s constructions are unabashedly aesthetic and covertly seduce the viewer with tales of hubris and glamour. Arne Svenson’s forensic sculpture Portraits are both haunting and alluring. His subject is the dead and forgotten, and his images are strangely elegant reminders of the unfinished stories of real lives. Also included, Svenson’s book of genetically connected eyes is a slightly lighter kind of provocation; large color images floating in a text-less format. The cliché: the eyes are the windows of the soul, is charred with the artist’s new kind of taxidermy. Liz Young’s standing wood-grained male sculpture and small blood painted portraits are interpretations of family intimacy and history. Adept with materials, Young makes each work a loaded narrative, unveiled and raw. Aaron Sheppard’s elaborate paintings dredge Eros from the ether; monuments of erotic iconography, untamed and obsessive. His female imagery is Dionysian and fantastic, recalling William Blake’s dark and swirling watercolors, but huge in scale. Both Young and Sheppard navigate a territory personal and untamed.

Together these artists revel in the tradition of telling tales of what it is to be human in the 21st century.

Opening reception : Saturday, June 13th 5-8pm