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Hollywood Accident by LuluXXX

Hollywood Accident reminds me of an Ice Cream Cone. Or saltwater taffy. Or bubblegum. It reminds me of those swirly, overpriced rainbow lollipops you find in tourist towns, along boardwalks, in the gift-shops of famous attractions. It reminds of things that are sickly sweet and intensely sugary, pleasant to taste and fun to experience, but ultimately terrible for you, introducing poison into your body via the subterfuge of their surface. Is that the subtext of Hollywood Accident, LuluXXX’s cotton candy explosion of color overlaid over a woman’s distantly-gazing face? It very well might be; it certainly fits a specific narrative. But Accident is a lot to take in, even more to parse through. That it would have a single subtextual aim would seem somewhat diminishing. One almost has to stop and stare in awe at the amount of visual information LuluXXX has presented here. It would be much safer to assume that, like the piece’s visual construction, there might even be too much to make sense of. It might be safer to suggest that, like dense and sugary candy itself, Hollywood Accident is an outwardly colorful coating for a deluge of what it truly is. 

Only when you see it from far-off does Hollywood Accident seem to be what it so clearly represents: A well-shaped, blonde woman’s face, her two blue eyes staring vacantly off into the distance. But the closer we physically bring ourselves to the piece, and the more closely we examine it, the less it appears to be anything at all. That it is so clearly a portrait of a woman actually seems like an accident, at least based on the swirls and faux-brushstrokes and effects which make up her face. Because the piece itself is a smorgasbord of swirls and sweeping colors and paint effects. There are very few solid lines of color to be found here, with most of Accident’s central image being a result of creative shading, sizing of swirls, and intelligent placement of certain defining features: bridge of nose, for example, or neckline of dress. There’s just enough extraneous detail outside of the many hundreds of colorful swirls to denote the person Lulu is depicting, but when I say just enough, I mean the balance stands carefully atop a pinhead. Any extra defining feature would ruin the delicate balance, the one which exists now where the woman’s face seems to appear almost accidentally from within the effect. Any less of it and the face might not be recognizable at all. But as it exists, Hollywood Accident seems to depict a phantom, or perhaps the better word is shade, something which is both there and not at the same time. 

Outside of that image, the piece’s central aesthetic offering is in its colors. They abound here, about as rich and textured and lush as I’ve seen. The initial comparisons to candy, to evocative sweets, I think is warranted, as these hues are designed to appear delectable. Pinks and soft turquoises, tans and oranges and luscious beiges, purples and blues and blacks. Together, these colors act as a remarkable palette, communicating an outwardly saccharinity but also  belying something more sinister.

Which is the part I find most appealing and devious about this piece. There’s something dark just under its surface, although I can’t quite figure out what it is. Perhaps this is a posture primed by the title. Hollywood Accident conjures images of subterranean ghoulishness, the dark side of Los Angeles and Hollywood life depicted in so many movies, from Mulholland Drive to L.A. Confidential to Inherent Vice to Chinatown. It’s a point of much fascination for those within the Hollywood bubble, to examine the darkness and greed and exploitation that bubbles and burbles and splashes around in the lowest Los Angeles muck, the kind ironically found in high penthouses and pool houses and ocean-view mansions. 

Candy-coated herself, the Blonde Woman and her empty, far-off stare seem the most symbolically important part of this piece. Along with the colors, very much suggesting a sweet exterior, she could either be experiencing something rotten or something so seemingly wonderful. Hollywood Accident is a loaded title after all. Is this a bad accident or an apparently happy one? Is this someone being sucked down into the Hollywood bog, having experienced a bad turn in an unfortunate spot, or is it a woman staring at a suddenly-bright future? True Hollywood accidents happen all the time, or at least that’s what the tabloids want us to believe; talent is discovered and wealth is poured down these deserving new funnels for funds, and dreams really can come true, oh joy. I think one can read Hollywood Accident in that way. I think it’s entirely plausible and correct. But I also can’t quite bring myself to believe it.What is it in this piece that draws my belief towards malice? Could it be that Hollywood Accident, and LuluXXX too, must be aware of the pop-culture surrounding Hollywood and starlets and the seedy underbelly of a place so concerned with appearances? Could it be the reference, backed up by the art style, towards that outlandish vapidity, so emblematic of a place overtly concerned with perceptions, with apparel and physical appeal? Is the Hollywood accident itself that people fall into this lifestyle, taken by its apparent merits? “It was an accident,” we say after spilling milk, after stubbing our toes, after escaping toxic relationships. Could this be just the same, a terrible accident, a mistake, but one that was gotten into with the best of intentions, that was inspired by flashy lights and candy-coated colors, that was too appealing, at first, to turn down, consequences be damned?

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