Review: The darker beauty of Cathy G. Johnson’s ‘Gorgeous’

gorgeous

This short, spare, poetic, emotionally brutal piece from Cathy G. Johnson and Koyama Press captures the intersection of three lives, and the unlikely self realization that two of them enact on one. The story begins with two punks at a music show exhibiting destructive manners that disrupts the shows and gives them an opportunity for some spiteful larceny. Making their way into the night, an accidental encounter with college sophomore Sophie gives them the opportunity to spew some nihilism about her life choices, and finally enact those feelings into a lesson that she surely didn’t want.

Gorgeous is a brief piece from Johnson, but it packs a huge emotional punch. Wrought entirely in black and white graphite, Johnson captures the electric anger of the two punks and contrasts it well with the shy fear of Sophie. Sophie’s words are hesitant, the punks’ are forceful, and together they shape an emotional portrait of each without offering any details — just strangers in the night exchanging extremely revealing glances, in essence.

At the heart of the encounter is the core belief about staying true to your desires, and how that can differ between people. Let’s say you wish upon a star — for some people, that star is at a distance and, either out of defiance or failure or a mixture of both, might always be. For others, the issue is to keep grasping for the star. But the latter can become the former even though they weren’t meant to be, or don’t even think they are. The achiever can become a victim, but cloaked in the trappings that obscure self-evaluation.

Johnson’s story of murky emotions and destructive chance encounters presents a fable for this dichotomy, as well as an assurance that there is light in the darkness, but you have to actually look for it.

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