Egg on his face?
You've got it backward.
That's his face on an egg.
Disembodied Ceramic Egg Face is trapped beneath a fallen TV antenna.
Speaking. Asking. Pleading. Cajoling. Creeping you out. Drawing you in.
Help him? How? Why?
"He knows how to make your gut think," says Nicole Moffatt, director of CityCenter's CENTERpiece Gallery, about "Escape No. 328" by new media artist Tony Oursler (that's his video puss yearning to egg-scape). " 'Should I be laughing? Should I not be laughing?' "
What did you egg-spect here? Oil paintings of flower vases? This is art to the third dimension, as envisioned in "Size & Scale: 3D Objects," the gallery's current exhibition.
"We're so 2-D in our presentation, I felt it would be really nice to come off the walls," says CENTERpiece owner/manager Michele Quinn. "So many of the artists we work with have this 3-D element to their inventory."
Exploring how artists from the mid-20th century to today conceptualize art, "Size & Scale" features the work of Oursler, Jenny Holzer and Jonathan Borofsky, described "as fluent in the new language of imagery," plus such contemporary artists as Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg and Ken Price.
"This exhibition has been drawing in a younger crowd," Moffatt says. "Conceptual artists such as Tony Oursler and Jonathan Borofsky and Jenny Holzer tilt toward younger generations because they have iPads and the media. When something flashes, their eye catches it, and they tune in. That comforts them. An older generation feels more comforted by the images of Robert Rauschenberg, more soothing, less intimidating."
Body-less beneath his antenna prison, Oursler's heart -- assuming the rest of him was there -- still beats strong. You can hear it, except ... it's not his.
That's "Heartlight," Borofsky's ba-BUM-ba-BUM-ba-BUM audio/visual sculpture, a red, flashing, cone-shaped piece mounted on a tripod, loudspeakers facing downward. That throbbing? The artist's digital heartbeat.
"It's so simple, yet so complex," Quinn says. "You're looking at the rhythm of that sound and the way it resonates through the space, it's so powerful. You can go back to your fetal position, hearing the heartbeat. And if it's loud, it can be unnerving, like the heartbeat coming through the floor."
(Think of it as a sculptural riff on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart.")
Words as art? That's the province of Holzer, whose compact, wall-mounted LED screens flash zippy messages in colored lights scrolling across all of them. Conceptually, it's evocative of the mass of visual stimuli and advertising bombardments of modern life.
"There's this great play between her challenging you to figure out how to read a message fast enough, communicate fast enough," Moffatt says. "She pushes into your life with these visual, subliminal messages."
Elsewhere, "Life Out of Balance" by experimental documentarian Godfrey Reggio -- accompanied by an art-music Phillip Glass score -- plays like a video dreamscape of modern life, seeming to explore humankind's relationship to technology and the environment, all fly-by images in a kaleidoscopic montage.
Less 3-D-ish but still provocative, Rauschenberg's portraits assemble the debris of urban life into artwork, such as "LA Uncovered," in which discarded signs and advertising for low-rent businesses litter a landscape pockmarked by exposed pipes and low brick walls: a "Dentist" sign on a decaying brownstone, a barber pole, even come-ons for "bankruptcy"/"liquidation" services.
"Rauschenberg does it in a less visual way, more subversive," Moffatt says. "He takes these photographs of where he lived, his travels, and tells you a story about how the detritus of life builds upon itself. It's very urban, the gap between art and life."
Another section -- not quite NC-17-rated, but perhaps an R -- contains Price's concepts, such as "Curley," a fired/handpainted work of clay. "It's very phallic," Moffatt says. "He does a lot of phallic sculpture, undulating, globular. Each layer is glazed and sanded off. Clay becomes a jewel."
Graphically, one Price drawing depicts a strip club, the woman onstage with her legs spread, an apparent statement on voyeurism. "He did a whole series," Moffatt says. "You're the voyeur looking at it, seeing the people looking at her."
Swirls of gray and yellow entangle each other in a work by sculptor Won Ju Lim, the plastic and Plexiglas contortions appearing to grow out of the floor, another piece defining the contemporary mindset taking art into the 21st century with new tools and fresh ideas.
"Paintings and sculptures and drawings are very easy to absorb from a traditional perspective," Quinn says. "But mixed media starts pushing people a little bit more toward the edge."
Daring artistic concepts that could leave an artist with egg on his face.
Or his face on an egg.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.