PARAPRAXIS: The Animal Within
Nothing focuses the mind like death and sex. Eks.rei created a collection of work that really focuses the mind. Entitled PARAPRAXIS (the real world accidental manifestation of a subconscious wish), the exhibition put the most intimate male obsessions on display. Hosted at Montreal’s the Letter Bet, his eerily fascinating work features captivating skeletons in the middle of various acts, most of them sexual.
Eks.rei uses Japanese sumi technique to create works with a minimalist, tattooesque style. True to the sumi philosophy every brush stroke in this exhibit has energy, every stroke speaks of a parapraxis.
The first room features large scale images of skeletons in various states of life: meditating, posing, showing affection, and having sex. The pieces look rushed, spontaneous: they look unfiltered. When I first walked in I stared at an image called Animus. A collage of brushed skeletons, smoking and in the middle of various unspeakable acts stared back at me. After indulging in the Letter Bet’s free sake bar I was a little creeped out. The morbid fascination of watching bare bones make energetic (and kind of athletic) love to one another captures your gaze. The furious nature of its lines gives it an intense creative energy. Its sister piece, Anima, had the same energy but conveyed differently. It was more deliberate, fuller, a gentle compliment to its partner.
The next piece of significance featured two skeletons kissing, something softer. This was the first piece that focused entirely on affection and maybe the subconscious need for love. This was placed just outside a door leading to smaller pieces brushed onto currency. These were precise, they lost the spontaneity, and the emotion of the larger pieces but for some reason they were some of the most evocative.
As I stood there, I wondered if that’s all we boiled down to really; money, sex, and, eventually, death. Looking at the piece which was hanging in the centre of the room bathed in red light like an altar, I came to think about how the whole exhibit boiled down male fantasies to their essence. But not just their essence, he turned our base instincts into beautifully designed calligraphic tattoos.
I like to think we’re more than our baser instincts but I don’t think it’s wrong to celebrate them. And maybe the more you think about it, the deeper it gets. This exhibit, to my mind, deals with sex but the angle of the skulls, the positions of the skeletons belies affection. The money its painted on, 1000 yen notes, equates to around 9 USD—not worth very much. Even its skeletons, presumably dead, are engaging in activities that are central to life.
In the end, if this exhibit was about our subconscious desires accidentally leaking out, it was a little on the nose. Subconscious desires just flooded the gallery and I think that’s a good. I think this was less of a parapraxis and more of a subconscious storm. Sometimes people need that; sometimes we need break out our subconscious like an embarrassing stamp collection and wonder where everything came from and what it means. Walking through this exhibit makes you confront your own base desires. There’s something primal here, something that resonates with the animal within, something more than just tattoo style skullfucking—I mean skeletons fucking. Sorry. Parapraxis.