Oddball Art

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“ZPFfffft!!,” an installation at Scion in Culver City, is showcasing three generations worth of kooky artistry by Bob Zoell, Gary Panter, and Devin Flynn. The show’s title fuses the artists’ surnames, producing an onomatopoeia that, according to Panter, “suggests something fast and on a trajectory, or maybe a brushstroke or a champagne cork whizzing by.”

Present at Saturday’s opening were graphic aficionados like Simpsons creator Matt Groening, an old friend of Panter’s. At 59, Panter represents the middle child of the featured artists. He’s best known for designing sets and puppets for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse in the ‘80s, but what’s cool about him is his range—he’s painter, sculptor, cartoonist and lightshow wizard all in one. He says that the common thread of his work is free association, so it’s safe to say that logic is not at the heart of his art.  When I asked about an older painting including the innards of a grotesque, giant insect, he explained that “monsters usually get eviscerated eventually.” Panter’s 23-foot wall of chalk doodles that took him two days to make is the eye-catcher of the exhibit. “You’re looking in my brain,” he said about the wall. 

Devin Flynn, the baby of the group at age 40, makes even Panter’s wacky creations seem old-fashioned. Flynn animated a stream of consciousness Web series called Y’all So Stupid for adultswim.com, and three flatscreens at the back of the space stream different episodes of the show. Watching his show at the exhibit, viewers laughed when something exploded or someone shredded into mush, common occurrences in the anarchic world that Flynn creates.

Like Panter, Flynn isn’t into premeditated art. He did manage to explain the rationale behind one of his pieces, though, an image of a clown covering the eyes of a regular guy. Painted with oil pastels under toner ink his dad found from the ‘80s, Flynn said the image symbolizes a person fooling himself. The touch of detail that makes him proudest, though, is a paper bag drawn at the top of the poster, “a cosmic bag of payback” spilling all over that foolhardy clown. With his salt-and-pepper hair parted to the side and a goofy smile, Flynn doesn’t take himself too seriously. When his mom once thought she had identified a vagina in one of his paintings, he placated her by insisting it was a cat’s face, though the interaction inspired him to name the piece “Pudenda Friends.”

And what of Elder Kook, Bob Zoell? With seven New Yorker covers under his sizable belt, 65-year-old Zoell is the most successful of the trio, though he displayed only two of his blobish paintings at the opening (I would have preferred to see the sketches for the New Yorker cover he did of a guy walking a fire hydrant-cum-dog.) Zoell ducked out early (ZPfffft!!), while Panter had plans to get tacos with Groening after the show.

“ZPFfffft!!” runs through July 10 at Scion Installation Space. 

 

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