James Cicatko

James Cicatko paints horrible images. Not that the paintings in his solo show "Little Monsters" are bad—in fact, quite the opposite. Cicatko's surreal menagerie of infantile monsters, painted in putrid pinks and garish blues, is a nightmarish vision of violence and lust spawned by a culture that refuses to grow up. These huge oil paintings on paper aren't the sort of thing I'd like to wake up to on my bedroom walls every morning, but the local painter has tapped into something compelling and disturbing. We're a culture of babies, lacking the maturity to rein in our impulses, and these paintings accentuate human vice. In one large panel reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch, a circle of naked men and women engage in a hopeless cycle of folly. In another picture, a masked child boxes with a deer-headed figure, in a cynical view of violence that brings to mind the late works of Goya. Other monsters transform the human form into a kind of perverse weapon, a Frankenstein assemblage run amok. Cicatko does have his weaknesses—he's not a refined painter by any means, and he seems to relish ugliness a bit too much—but his is a vision that demands to be seen, despite (or perhaps because of) its blunt brutality. Gallery 110, 110 S. Washington St., 206-624-9336. Noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Ends July 30.

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