A wonderful family portrait!
A wonderful family portrait! Jasmyne Keimig

I love the off-beat Americana on display in Phoenix-based painter Colin Chillag's work. It immediately brings to my mind Todd Solondz's movies like Welcome to the Dollhouse or Happiness where the blues are a little too blue, the hair a bit too feathered to be real. Riffing on the kind of studio portraits that were popular in the '80s and '90s, Chillag slightly exaggerates his subjects' features, throwing them against mystical, surreal backgrounds. The result are portraits that have a familiar mundanity about them, but are exceptional in setting and execution. The painting above is in Roq La Rue's latest group show, All the Things, that puts the gallery's interest in pop-surreality on display.

"We Will Meet Again In Heaven (Sisters)" is one of two Chillag pieces included in the exhibition. While the painting is a bit of a mindfuck for obvious reasons, if you look closer, you'll see smaller details that only add to the trippiness of the piece. An extra hand here, a missing chunk of a dead sister's arm there. Some of Chillag's other works also share this "incompleteness," where underdrawings peek through or a kind of glitchy fuzz permeates his figures, revealing his hand and reminding the viewer that perfection isn't the most important thing.

This painting (and others) are up at Roq La Rue—don't miss it.

A close-up of the painting.
A close-up of the painting. JK

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