LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kielbasa-shaped glass sculpture and other provocations from the late Miyoshi Barosh

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
Aug 20, 2020 12:53AM


“Untitled (Sausage)” by Miyoshi Barosh, 2015. Glass, 11 inches by 6.5 inches by 4.25 inches(Estate of Miyoshi Barosh / Luis De Jesus )

Sometimes a sausage is just a sausage, but not in Miyoshi Barosh’s archly adorable world.

Her kielbasa-shaped glass sculpture, “Untitled (Sausage)” from 2015, gleams suggestively from a vitrine at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. In case you doubt its Freudian implications, its cellmates are a penis and a pair of breasts, also made of glass, both trussed with twine as if ready for the oven. The vitrine’s fourth occupant, “Untitled (Meat),” is a smooth hunk of reddish-brown glass, tied up like a small ham.

Equating body parts with meat is nothing new, but these works put a sharper point on Barosh’s more prominent work in textiles, which tends to be exuberantly domestic and slightly macabre.

Barosh, who died last year at 59, is the subject of three gallery exhibitions this month, forming a casual retrospective. This review focuses on the show “Love” at Luis De Jesus. Another show at Night Gallery south of downtown closed last weekend, and a third at the Pit in Glendale runs through Feb. 22.

Barosh was expert at mining popular notions of cuteness and cuddliness for their underpinnings of melancholy and darker drives. “I © Kitties” from 2014 is a washed-out print of a kitten’s face violently riddled with burn holes. Peeking through these irregular gaps is an electric blue color reminiscent of computer screens, but also several brightly colored and patterned bits of fabric.

“I ♥ Kitties” by Miyoshi Barosh, 2014. Hand-embellished digital pigment print with fabric collage, 44 inches by 46 inches.

The overall effect is of cuteness, interrupted, but the work also holds some hope for soothing or patching these ruptures. It explores our love-hate relationship with the adorable, at once a balm and a saccharine irritant.

Patchwork also plays a role in the show’s eponymous centerpiece, “Love,” from 2007. It’s an enormous wall piece stitched together from found hand-knit afghans. These bits and pieces create a riotously colorful frame for the word “Love,” written in a nearly illegible psychedelic script filled in with black and white yarn.

It’s an overwhelming physical outpouring of love, similar to Mike Kelley’s stuffed animal assemblages. Like them, Barosh’s work plumbs love’s monstrousness, its scary intensity and the chaotic fears and needs that lie beneath. Yet the work is also a testament to love’s disposability. The afghans, no matter how lovingly and painstakingly constructed, were left behind at some point. All that love, all those hours, all those wacky color combinations: in Barosh’s hands they found new life.

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles