The Oaxaca-based Mexican artist Dr. Lakra (born Jerónimo López Ramírez in 1972) is best known for embellishing vintage girlie magazines and occasional plastic baby dolls with ink drawings inspired by tattoo designs. In his most recent solo outing, Dr. Lakra included a handful of ink drawings on gravure-printed, black-and-white girlie-mag tear-sheets from decades ago. The centerpiece of the show, however, was a sprawling, temporary mural in black and white paint on a gray background that covered the walls of this gallery’s cavernous new space, launched earlier this year.
In the small untitled works on paper, the artist drew black silhouettes of little men and snakelike forms, often wrapping them around the breasts, thighs and arms of variously posed female nudes. Mostly, the models seem oblivious to the alterations, little more than phantoms, but in at least one image, a woman stares directly at a prancing phallus with feet, perched cozily on her thigh. In another, silhouetted gremlins hammer nails into the head of a model seated in a pose that was originally meant to be sexy. Thanks to the “doctor’s” handiwork, she instead appears to be reeling from a killer headache. Mixing the old and the new, these drawings are infused with dreamy humor and a sense of transgressive sexual fun.
Dr. Lakra’s untitled mural was a phantasmagoria of imagery—cartoonish, kitsch, sexual and religious. It suggested a first draft for a new kind of Sistine Chapel fresco—an epic tale on acid (or maybe Mexican magic mushrooms) about fear, romance and funky spirits. Among its cascade of overlapping images: kissing lovers morphing into a wolfman; a nude, flying woman in the form of an airplane; manga-style Japanese fighting boys; a roughly 16-foot-tall sculpture of an African deity; jewelry-rattling belly dancers; free-floating constellations of eyeballs; a tree full of buzzardlike birds (and an owl); and terrified faces straight out
of 1950s movie posters.
Dr. Lakra’s wall painting was so overwhelming in its physical scale and no-holds-barred goofiness that one almost forgot to draw the obvious connection to the emblematic works of Mexico’s early 20th-century muralists. As a tour de force of spectacularly fluid drawing, it hints that Dr. Lakra may have outgrown the magazine pages that have long provided his main format. Now, it seems, this skilled draftsman is thinking big; he obviously wants and maybe even needs larger settings in which to whip up his special brand of artistic mischief.
Photo: Dr. Lakra: Untitled (Trigo), 2009, black pigment on magazine page, 111⁄2 by 91⁄4 inches; at kurimanzutto.