Everything is going wrong in Jamian Juliano-Villani’s hyper-frenetic, brilliantly colored, expertly designed, cartoony paintings, but you would not want it any other way. In Midnight Snack (all works 2013), two hands leap out of the freezer, a goldfish somehow residing on a shelf in the fridge is spewing
That question pops up immediately and repeatedly viewing each of the five paintings in this 26-year-old artist’s breakout New York solo debut. In The Devil’s Cookbook, she has Satan stirring up an electric green-purple stew, while in Bounty Hunter she has suspended gravity, sending a menagerie of bottles, boots, bullets, James Rosenquist-style spaghetti, a Martin Kippenberger lamp and other objects flying in every direction in a mountain landscape.
Ken Price’s graphic work and Erik Parker’s paintings are definite influences, but Ms. Juliano-Villani tends to render her fantastical surrealism with an exacting precision and in otherwise mundane environments (an all-night diner, the kitchen), fomenting an alarming tension between the imagined and the real that one might find in artier comic books or avant-cartoons like MTV’s 1990s series Aeon Flux.
Gamely overloading her brazen, bawdy paintings with more content than can be easily digested, Ms. Juliano-Villani threatens to overwhelm but almost always manages to pull back from pure chaos, winning a coherence that feels provisional and fresh. Things are falling apart, but we’re in capable hands. (Through Oct. 20)