Julien Guibreteau knew the title of his exhibit at Gallery 141 would draw a lot of attention."Rembrandt, King Kong, Lipsticks, Etc."Can't help but wonder what that's about, right?"Of course," the French artist says with a smile. "That's why I chose the title."The thing is, the title is spot on. Guibreteau's show is indeed about Rembrandt, King Kong, lipstick and plenty of et ceteras.Well, sort of.Guibreteau has a wry and quirky sense of humor, bringing seemingly disparate ideas together that turn out to make sense in their own way.

This is Guibreteau's first art exhibit in America.An art teacher in France, he was visiting this country last year and working at a summer camp when he met Alana Maubury Hunter, the owner of Gallery 141. She invited him to exhibit here.He has spent the whole summer in the U.S., but will return to France after the exhibit closes on Aug. 21.

So what is "Rembrandt, King Kong, Lipsticks, Etc." about?The show has three different parts.King Kong -- well, a comic version of an ape figure actually -- appears in a series of poses on an angry red canvas filled with feminine items Fay Wray would love: perfume bottles, lipstick, lacy bras.The ape figure sleeps in one painting, dreaming perhaps of all those perfume bottles that are lined up above him.In another, he looks back at a sea of bras.Bringing King Kong together with these classically feminine items is a fusion of the whole "King Kong" story, the beauty and the beast, the inner turmoil, the search for the beautiful."They don't connect unless you know the movie," he explains. "A big part of 'King Kong'is romanticism, so we see Kong with all these ladies' accessories."

In the Rembrandt series, a much more comic figure is represented.Guibreteau's Rembrandt is a cliched, cartoonish view of an artist, complete with a smock, beret and ever-ready paintbrush and palette.We see him drinking wine, teetering on a ladder, looking in the mirror, painting.Working in black and white, Guibreteau is "creating space without using perspective."The images this stereotypical artist is painting are serious and intense, including an ape's face in one and the animal's curled hand in another. They are quite different from the King Kong figures on the other side of the wall.

"I am looking at the animal inside the artist," Guibreteau explains.The exhibit also features a series of collages, which Guibreteau put together from images in magazines.Cheetahs lie on top of old VW buses, eyeballs float on a red canvas along with a black panther and a peeled orange."I wanted to create an enigma," he says. "Create spaces where your mind can create a story."He's using symbols, giving ideas about what he see, but wants the viewer to add their own ideas to the mix."(Artist Marcel) Duchamp said, 'Art is like a picnic -- everyone brings something to it.'" Guibreteau explains. "I like that, when I do King Kong or Rembrandt, people can bring something to it. They have their link and I have mine."

 

JANE HOLAHAN