When Emmeric’s unique style was developing, part and parcel of the heady days of 1980s and ‘90s downtown LA art world, it was all but synonymous with the lifestyle and the lust for life, dusk until dawn, ride or die compulsion to make something unflinchingly real. It violently upended expectations for that slick LA prettiness the world had heard so much about, speaking to a darker, gothic and gonzo way of life inseparable from making art. It belonged to a vision of sexuality as a wild thing, a feral freedom available to all. Most of the work currently on view in Chinatown is from 2017, along with a few from 2018. Now living in the world he helped create, Konrad is turning the focus of his style away from a social examination and toward something more inward, identity-based… we don’t need another champion but this is the hero we are getting. One for better or worse ideally suited to our times.
Moved by the struggle for gender equality and especially the situation of transgender military service people, Konrad has undertaken a fresh iteration of his core creed of justice-for-all post-punk egalitarianism in this emotionally earnest but politically skeptical celebration of all things too much. There’s text too, legible and confessional, declarative and heart-breaking –– all worked in as part of and counterpoint to the imagery. With a Schiele-like haunted, hunted quality, this work opens up the psychological dimensions not just the behavioral –– though there’s still plenty of sex and liquor to go around. All the volatility remains in the way it’s made, seeming performative even in private, but at the same time animated by more overtly political messages –– because isn’t everything right now? He’s grown as an artist, and is now using his indelible language to tell more nuanced, sagacious stories –– tales of a citizenry that are slightly more engaged but no less beguiled.
Installation views. Photos courtesy of Shana Nys Dambrot.