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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Pablo Barba: Business Casual


Steve Turner Gallery / Los Angeles / Art

There is a famous meme—Woman Laughing Alone with Salad. It takes its title, and its image, from the countless stock photos depicting exactly that: a woman enjoying her healthy lunch with manic glee. Pablo Barba’s latest series of oil paintings also makes social commentary out of stock imagery, but workaday office life, rather than commercialized femininity, is his target. He reimagines photos of boozy happy hours in a cubicle, water-cooler chatter, and break-room gossip in the tradition of the old masters, elevating snapshots of scenes into tableaus. The two traditions combine to surprisingly seamless, comedic, and provocative effect. Through both subtle exaggeration and art historical influences, Barba locates sexual tension, suggestions of darker dynamics, and instances of nine-to-five banality. Humorous, satirical, and a dead serious critique of the conventions of business, Barba’s “Business Casual” is as smart as it is playful. —C.J.F.

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