Junque | Massimo de Carlo

The first time I saw US-based Jamian Juliano-Villani’s work was at Massimo de Carlo last year. I wrote about this show’s prime attraction: a cuddly tiger getting rigorously orally penetrated with a plastic-clad dildo. The fun continues in the same gallery this summer, in a group show organised around “junk”.

That’s junk in both the literal and slang senses of the word: either worthless clutter, or, like… a penis. It doesn’t really matter which way you take it (hmmm), Juliano Villani’s slapdash, don’t-care aesthetic isn’t proscriptive in the least. But, like her last exhibition, it’s more focused on fun - and it’s a lot of fun to look at.

installation view

In the installation view above, you can see a cute Luigi Serafini sculpture, anthropomorphising a stop sign; on the left, there’s a flamboyantly ugly Ashley Bickerton painting with a garlanded frame; and at the back, behind an incongruously tasteful Anthea Hamilton cuboid bench, there’s a print from the king of trash himself, John Waters.

It depicts Lassie, the collie dog of wholesome 1940s family film fame, with the kind of evilly enraged eyebrows last seen on Pennywise the clown, star of the considerably less family-oriented film, It.

Taken together, it’s funny and a bit poignant. We aren’t meant to take it too seriously, or we risk the artist mocking us. Though actually she’s started on that already, in the show notes she cites Giorgio Morandi as one of her favourite artists. That painfully constrained, still life master couldn’t be more opposed to the happy cacophony on show here.

But, luckily, we can enjoy both!

Junque is at Massimo de Carlo (London). 01 September - 30 September 2020