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Keep Houston Press Free
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Bjørn Båsen's Surreal Wonderland at Anya Tish Gallery

Bjørn Båsen's "Tainted Tales" at Anya Tish Gallery presents surreal paintings of antique china objects so odd and distorted, they look like a 19th-century housewife's laudanum-fueled daydream. And speaking of laudanum, Lewis Carroll is another influence here. In Taffel I (Wonderland) (2011), blue and white, delftware-like china objects cast the silhouette of a caterpillar perched on a mushroom and smoking a hookah.

The whole thing is set within a rounded, china-walled interior printed with blue flowers. Barely visible on the painting's surface is a bas-relief snippet of cursive text, apparently from Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Båsen's strange environments, executed with a shiny hyperrealism, are simultaneously engaging and unsettling.

(Through March 19. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-2299)

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