Peter Zokosky’s portraits of puppets, babies and fish get visitors involved with creatures we would ordinarily overlook or go out of our way to avoid. At Koplin del Rio Gallery, the L.A. artist’s 18 paintings, each neatly set in a handmade frame, invite us to extend our sympathies beyond the bounds of familiarity, not to mention comfort and complacency.
In the 18th and 19th centuries that was what Romanticism was all about: getting selves to expand so they'd be more connected to the cosmos. Realism put an end to such dreamy idealism, leaving art in the 20th century focused on life's gritty details.
Similar dramas unfold before Zokosky's six portraits of babies and two portraits of stingrays from the Long Beach Aquarium. Neither cute nor cuddly, the babies come off as alien — not in the sense that they come from outer space but in the deep sense of mystery they embody. The weirdly sentient fish capture the haplessness of adulthood, the struggle to hold it together and the absurdity of it all.