Courtesy of Cinnabar Gallerhy / Emanuel De Sousa
Cinnabar Art tapped London artist Emanuel De Sousa for a poppy exhibit centered on kung fu movie master Bruce Lee's iconic yellow tracksuit. Ironically, despite the exhibition's title, "Bruce Lee Shoes," the subjects of each portrait are pointedly not wearing Lee's famous Onitsuka Tigers. If they even have shoes on, they are depicted in impractical footwear ranging from simple wraps to impossibly high platforms and heavy boots. Feet and hands are often sketched simply, left unpainted or buried under a smear of background color.
It's not lost on us that "Bruce Lee Shoes" rolls off the tongue very similarly to the rockabilly hit popularized by Elvis Presley, "Blue Suede Shoes," and De Sousa capitalizes on this nostalgia, offering "a glimpse into the crossover connection of the childhoods of hippies, hipsters, martial arts enthusiasts, rockabillies and 80s babies." The portraits are furnished in midcentury modern style, with props including lounge chairs, a telephone, a carved bust and more, with its human subjects clutching unusual, yet seemingly beloved objects.
Not to be weighed down by your aunt's stuffy furniture, though, De Sousa balances this brand of nostalgia with imaginative flourishes, juxtaposing the antiques with animals, rosebushes and even mylar balloons. He enhances the surreality of each painting with a technique in which "he lets water and charcoal 'bleed' down the canvas," filling space with smears and splashes to create an unfinished space, a dream where the details fade along the edges.
Free, on view noon-6pm Wed-Sat through July 20, Cinnabar Gallery, 1420 S. Alamo #147, (210) 557-6073, cinnabarart.com.
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