Marisa Takal: Beyond Oy Too Scared to Ha-Ha

Beyond Oy Too Scared to Ha-Ha at Night Gallery
December 2, 2017 – January 13, 2018
Review by Olivia Whittick

Marisa Takal hides things in her paintings. Maybe it is how she titles it, but I can feel something like a sense of humor emanating from the salmagundi of her work. I can picture a smirk on the face of the artist sitting in front of the canvas, imagine bursts of solitary laughter and then pointed dry focus, alternating. Her paintings are disorienting in their absurdity, and while absurdity and being lost can be fun, it can also be sad, scary. Consider the comforting feeling of meaninglessness you get from memes vs. the terrifying feeling of meaninglessness you get from the news. Confusion can be comical but also it can be creepy. Takal’s work walks this line. It is pleasingly chaotic, both warm and organic as well as industrial. It is almost neo-pastoral. There is a sweet and palpable human intervention, as if the work has been broken, and the artist has had to put it back together quickly, without the proper tools. Sewn together, glued together, papier-mâchéd or taped up, there is a scarecrow aspect to the composition that give the work its jigsaw uncanny.

The paintings in Beyond Oy Too Scared to Ha-Ha (really one of the things I love most about Takal’s work is her titles) are heavily painted, none of them possessing a clear focal point or subject. Often the first impression is of an aerial photo, or a map, although not of a place; more likely these are maps of memories or dreams. They are postcards from a place that lives only inside the brain. In I’ve Seen Madonna’s House, craggy twig shapes contrast with a Tweety-yellow background (or is it a foreground?) and a red circle framing an uncontained face seems to say “You Are Here,” although you have no idea where that is. In many of her paintings, often rendered in a muddy cartoonish palette, the roads of her No Place are also its telephone wires, also its veins converging as nodes. Takal is evidentally very interested in intersections, in paths and thoughts that cross each other at so many points that the whole point of going anywhere becomes muddled. The figures in her work, stagnant and yet so determined, ask happily as they go: “Am I lost?” The delighted viewers ask themselves the same thing. So you may be lost, but most importantly, are you too scared to ha-ha?

I’ve Seen Madonna’s House, 2017

I Have Seen the Phantom Cowboy Ride his Trail of Dust is in my Dreams, 2017

Something I-N-G Crossing the Street up the Hill On Repeat, 2017

I Always Wanted Love, Didn’t You- Don’t You- What Do You Want- Control, 2017

Jewish Desire, 2017

Only Friend a Place for Safety Safe Friend Only, Always I’m Looking out of the Car Window There She Goes…Flying, fun. She’s from the 80s but Born Around ’96, Don’t Know her Name but it Doesn’t Really Matter, 2017


On view at Night Gallery 2276 E 16th Street Los Angeles CA 90021