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One to Watch

April 5, 2006

Dr. Lakra

Dr. Lakra's designs can be glimpsed on real and imagined bodies. The Oaxaca-based tattoo artist satisfies those eager to get inked (he once took appointments in kurimanzutto's booth at Art Basel), while simultaneously embellishing the fictional flesh of fetishized characters found in vintage magazines from the '50s, old toy figurines, and occasional non-figurative objects. Born Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, Lakra's edgy nom de plume is a play on the Spanish lacra, which refers to a blemish, scar, or laceration resulting from a wound, as well as to a socially disgraceful group or individual. His imaginary clientele includes pinup girls, athletes, and ad models, upon and around whom he inscribes hallucinatory, folk-inspired patterns, images, and bits of text. These trappings eerily serve to give his subjects the appearance of being oblivious to the tattoos, which appear as externally imposed decoration.

Lakra's compositions pirate Mexican, French, and North American images — augmented by his drawings, these pictures are infused with the suggestion that simply altering appearances brings new relationships into view. A pair of muscular wrestlers morphs into thugs in the guise of superheroes; the effect is both homoerotic and emasculating. A negligee-clad young girl reclining suggestively on a bed becomes a clown-faced suicide victim attended by the angel of death — who looks like a stereotypical elderly Mexican woman — floating beside her head. Despite recent appearances at such big-name venues as the Saatchi Gallery, Tate Modern, and Matthew Marks Gallery, where during the summer of 2004 his work appeared in Deliver Us from Evil alongside that of artists such as the Chapman Brothers and R. Crumb, Dr. Lakra remains something of a mystery.


Kate MacGarry in London presents its second exhibition of Dr. Lakra June 9 - July 15.

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