Review: Theo Wujcik — Galleri Urbane

[Originally published in The Dallas Morning News]

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Theo Wujcik’s show, “Asian Invasion” takes its cue from the extraordinary influence contemporary Chinese artists are exerting on the art market. While Wujcik is an American, born in Detroit, his slant on pop culture exhibits a barbed wit that’s unsettling. He shows us iconic Americana – a smashed MacDonald’s container, a beer label, a Coca Cola logo and a Wall Street ticker tape parade – in ways that make us uncomfortable. They’re juxtaposed with Eastern motifs that give his work a tilt that’s wince inducing. However, he manages to keep the visual banter light — he delivers jabs rather than knockout punches.

One image,  “Made in the U.S.A.,” shows us our tacky selves in a way we would typically never entertain. It’s a brilliant acrylic-on-canvas work depicting quintessentially Asian fare delivered to us via a quintessentially American foil plate. It makes us ponder our fast-forward culture and what it means that we no longer have time for sit-down dinners. Moreover, Grandmother’s meatloaf has been swapped for an eggroll and chop suey. The work becomes a formidable metaphor for our evolving mash-up of cultures.

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Similarly, “Mountain Jade” displays a Rolling Rock beer label and coyly alludes to the way jade is mined in China. It’s tossed down mountainsides and gathered after it reaches its downhill destination. The torn and recognizable label is a background for widely seen carved elephants that are a wee-bit tacky.

Astonishingly, Wujcik is in his seventies. His art exhibits such a youthful exuberance and enthusiasm that one suspects it would be the product of an artist half his age. In this time of global interconnection, it’s interesting to watch two – highly diverse – sides of the globe collide.

 

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