Shauna Born’s All The Boys I’d Like To Fuck #1 hangs as part of the Galore series.
SHAUNA BORN at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1082, 1086 Queen West), to July 29. 416- 993-6610. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Shauna Born's finely wrought portraits of brooding and beautiful young men, each about the size of a postcard, can pack a wallop. They hang in a series called Galore (joining a larger ongoing project entitled All The Men I'd Like To Fuck), and some of them are part of a second show at Mulherin's sister gallery in Manhattan.
They are, like much contemporary drawing, summoned from some uneasy border region between hyper-realism, classicism and kitsch. The subjects, all in their late teens or early 20s, teeter on the cusp of manhood. All are impossibly pretty, and their hair - flowing, back-combed or wind-tousled - is a major dramatic concern.
It takes a while to grasp that each face is also a composite. The pouts, strong jaws and ambivalent stares are culled from Hollywood, Hugo Boss and Prada ads. Born mixes and matches the features of different models and screen idols to achieve a disorienting fantasy of male handsomeness. Each face is strongly familiar but impossible to place.
There are hints of Taylor Lautner in one, a strong aura of River Phoenix in another. Fans of early Warhol films might recognize Joe Dallesandro, the hunk protagonist of Trash and Dracula. Justin Bieber is most certainly the template for another.
In her exquisitely detailed renderings, Born raises the vernacular of the ball point pen to the level of fine copper engraving. The technique points slyly to the artistic ideals of high-school fangirls: you can imagine these portraits circulated reverently among the faithful and taped inside locker doors.
More than that, each image is haunted by larger themes: the fleetingness of youth, the desire-driven engine of fashion and commerce, and our fixation on beauty.