Baseman’s Holiday: L.A. Exhibition to Celebrate ‘Beauty of Bittersweetness of Life’

For most people, whimsical and world-weary are mutually exclusive. Lucky for us, Gary Baseman is not most people. In a series of new works that goes on view Saturday in Los Angeles, the self-described “pervasive artist, painter, producer, toy designer, and humorist” has injected his distinctive band of sprightly sinners with a Latin flavor (think Brazilian Carnivale meets tribal craftsmen in an otherworldly landscape that glitters with doom). The new solo exhibition, “La Noche de la Fusión,” promises to turn Corey Helford Gallery into “a Carnivalesque festival celebrating the beauty of the bittersweetness of life.” How? A Saturday evening kickoff happening that will feature live performers, live music, come-to-life Baseman characters, jugglers, fire performers, and a transformation ceremony—because no gallery opening is complete without “a ritual finale to burn away fears and insecurities.”

Along with the Carnivale Girls, Baseman’s new work introduces the “Enlightened Chou” (pictured at right), a character he developed in the course of travels last year through Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Barcelona, Italy, Cyprus, Thailand, Japan, and Israel (whew!). While filling sketchbooks with characters influenced by the places he visited, Baseman “discovered a deity creature who can melt all the arbitrary boundaries away. He is formed from the same origin of one of my other creatures named ChouChou (the little fellow that takes away all the negative energy from girls and oozes out creamy, gooey love from his belly button),” he says. “This new, all-seeing, all-knowing presence goes beyond the removal of fear and insecurity. He gives us complete freedom to know no limitations in our consciousness.”
The cultural fusion continues with new drawings made inside vintage books that Baseman acquired during his recent travels. Other inspirations for the works in “La Noche de la Fusión,” which is up through May 23, include tales of desire, intrigue, and living life to the fullest: the first heartbeat, the last kiss, the final breath. “The bottom line is this is a hard, crazy life, but it is worth it, and we should celebrate,” says Baseman. The Saturday celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. at Corey Helford Gallery (8522 Washington Boulevard in Culver City), with a reception to follow. The gallery encourages guests to come to the opening “in costume as their TRUE FANTASTIC SELF.”