Cubist art runs amok and slaughters museum staff in this arty, high-concept supernatural thriller debut.
Georges Bosque, a master of the cubist style of painting, wanted his last works to be destroyed after his death—including a painting depicting two angels of death roaming a World War I battlefield. But Noelle Walker, the acquisitions curator at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, is happy to buy them from his widow, despite their spooky aura. Trouble starts when museum employee Bruce Mallory scans one of the paintings with a new computer-graphics gizmo that projects paintings in three dimensions. It works great with naturalist artworks, but cubist paintings are, well, different, and their projections cause bystanders to mimic their off-kilter geometry—eventually turning them into mangled heaps of flesh. Before you can say “non-Euclidean universe,” the gadgetry has liberated a ghoulish Bosque figure from its canvas to wander the galleries, looking for fresh victims. Noelle, Bruce and Noelle’s elegant boss, Geoffrey, must cope with art that’s gone off the deep end; at the same time, Noelle deals with her romantic feelings for Bruce and for Geoffrey, the father of her child. As the “malicious Cubist thing” passes paintings, they come to life, and threatened humans dive into pictures to escape the lurking danger—causing consternation among the paintings’ inhabitants, whose flatland world has suddenly been invaded. Art teacher Golembiewski creates an intriguing new menace which works its mayhem as artists do, by creatively reimagining space and structure—but with grisly real-world effects. Although the overall conceit is a bit cartoonish, she grounds it in subtle, psychologically realistic prose and a gallery full of sharply etched characters. (The sullen, liberally pierced goth art student who sets off the carnage is a particular hoot.) Although the subject matter may be lurid at times, the author’s fine brushwork keeps the picture sharp.
An original, entertaining horror fantasy.