(Above, Gustave Adolphe Mossa)
There is literally not a single weak portion to Cueto Project's two months' plus in length piece de resistance, The Flowers of Evil Still Bloom, on view through January 31st. I tried to find one faulty placement, or even a weak thought process that went into the artists' or works' selection. There was none. From start to finish, it sets a masterful mood of the gothic symbolist movement's navel-gazing indulgence. The gallery is awash in references to the fin de siecle, gulping (not sipping) from absinthe's goblet, and its opulence will envelope you. The list of artists is too extensive to even begin to get into here on this blog, but I'll just put three out there with "gusto"-- Gustave Adolphe Mossa, Gustave Moreau and Gustav Klimt.
In the show's press release, Valerie Cueto herself speaks of a long loved writer of mine, Joris-Karl Huysmans, author of what may be the greatest story ever told that will also bore you to tears-- "Against Nature," or "Au Reboirs." In it, the protagonist Des Esseintes spirals ever so slowly towards passing out into the candle's burning flame. Going about his daily life at a snail's pace, he savors every flavor of drink and/or food; micro-analyzes every morsel's chew; every touch from every fabric; all the while coveting and desiring flesh through its numerous orifices. He purchases only the most extravagant of the extravagant, yet still throughout he fights the ever-creeping melancholy of death's door. My favorite chapter is where Des Esseintes decides to bejewel his vanity buy pet turtle's shell to the point from whence the animal will slowly die from its newfound burden of bling. I cannot help but be reminded of our own "Bedazzler" crafting product from QVC, or a Swarovski crystal-embossed Blackberry being examples of our own modern downfall.
(above, master suite by Arman)
This exhibition comes none too soon as our gorging society seems to have finally had its fill and cannot bear to eat any more of what it has long been force fed. If you find yourself in Chelsea in the next six business days, get thee to Cueto asap. I recommend a full 45 minutes to devote to this show. You will not be disappointed. But first please heed the posted warning below: "Peter Murphy impersonators, clove smokers and Faith-era Cure fans may experience chest palpitations. Enter at your own risk."