Art Galleries

Freedom of Expression

When: May 18-July 6 2013

Enrique Chagoya has been tripping up dominant narratives for decades now, wielding a sensibility for devious juxtaposition like few others can. His famous charcoal collision of Mickey Mouse and Ronald Reagan, depicted in the process of painting "Russkies and Cubans out of Central America" with a bucket of blood at mural scale, is impossible to un-see. This work is on display in Freedom of Expression, a survey of the artist's work now at Kala Gallery, but the exhibition is above all a marvelous opportunity to see the artist's more recent work, which pursues similar ideas in a curious variety of new forms. There are Warhol-style soup cans with recession-inspired flavors ("Bailout Bisque," "Ponzi Chowder") alongside a series of detailed, mock-informative codices, such as "Illegal Alien's Guide to the Concept of Relative Surplus Value," which unfold as pastiches of European, pre-Columbian, and pop-culture imagery. Also included is a series of etchings modeled after the grim, satirical prints of Francisco Goya but tailored to contemporary social issues. Through this characteristically clear-eyed reflection on his own practice, Chagoya draws an illuminating link between his own work and that of the Spanish master that goes considerably beyond their four shared letters. Freedom of Expression: The Work of Enrique Chagoya runs through July 6 at Kala Gallery (2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley). 510-841-7000 or

Alex Bigman

Price: free

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