For some time, Monica Zeringue has intrigued viewers with her enigmatic, surreal and meticulous drawings of little girls wearing little more than their underwear as they pursue dreamlike pastimes. Despite their tender age, their sensuality seems almost adult or even suggestive — but of what? In her new show, the drawings are larger, on linen, and just as precise. The girls, now pubescent, are still in their underwear. Zeringue says they are all images of herself — or selves — at that age, which sounds more ordinary than this stuff looks. Clearly, this is the Twilight Zone of child portraiture.
In Warm, a girl is curled up on a mattress, snug as a bug in a cocoon of her own hair wrapped around her and hanging over the side like a blanket. In Arc, several girls seem to float on top of each other in a human chain that forms an arch hovering over a mattress in what must be the most decorous out-of-body experience imaginable. Not content to defy ordinary expectations, they also defy most laws of physics. What does it all mean? The tone is Kafkaesque with hints of Buñuel, which is to say claustrophobic and surreal. There is also a distinct, if subliminal, Catholic school girl vibe. Zeringue probes the far regions of the subconscious imagination in meticulously crafted works that will resonate differently with different viewers. Wondrously obsessive, it's kind of great, if profoundly eccentric, work.
Many of Saskia Ozols Eubanks' classical yet gestural paintings are mysterious and mystical if not transformational. Inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses, their diffuse, poetic washes of paint depict crows, horses, heroes and even a birth of Venus with a post-Katrina waterline, all seemingly in a state of near mythic transition. Her still-life paintings are smaller, deftly traditional and typically gorgeous. Taken together, these contrasting series of paintings offer two approaches to the poetics of timelessness. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Gatherings and Urban Cells: New Works by Monica
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St., 525-7300; www.heriard-cimino.com
Metamorphoses: Paintings by Saskia Ozols Eubanks
Soren Christensen Gallery, 400 Julia St., 569-9501; www.sorengallery.com