Aramis Gutierrez’s four paintings at Big Pictures Los Angeles are slow burns. If you look quickly at the Miami-based artist’s oils on canvas you’ll miss the subtle ways they engage your eyeballs and brains — before burnishing themselves into your memory, where they stick long after you leave “Order of Sorcery,” Gutierrez’s L.A. solo debut.
Each modestly scaled painting is as theatrical as “Game of Thrones.” Each seems to take place at night, in a subterranean chamber or in the loamy earth of a forest beneath an ink-black sky. Plenty of flesh is exposed, along with lots of smoke, steam and gothy props, all backlighted to enhance the romance.
Despite all of the signs that something big is underway, the narrative arc seems to have hit a brick wall. No life-changing moments, world-rocking revelations or Twitter-able instants are depicted. Although Gutierrez has bled every drop of drama out of his pictures, there’s nothing bloodless about them. His murky works make a case for a different kind of deliciousness.
If Gutierrez’s paintings were edible, they’d be smoked oysters or ripe Roquefort. To enhance the rawness, or to ensure that their tastes do not get too refined, Gutierrez has left sections of bare canvas visible between paint-loaded brushstrokes that give meaty form to bare torsos, shoulders and buttocks. Up close, his images disintegrate into a stew of physical sensations.
Time doesn’t stand still so much as it seems stuck, its pressure building toward something that unfurls only in the imagination.
Big Pictures Los Angeles, 2424 W. Washington Blvd., (917) 239-7206, through May 10. Open Saturdays. www.bigpictures.la