Max de Esteban, born in Barcelona in 1959 and educated at Stanford University, is a peculiarly protean artist: His first major body of work consisted of highly stylized portraits of disaffected European youths, his second of cyanotype-like X-rays of midcentury electronic appliances. And now we have “Heads Will Roll,” his Photoshopped collages of apocalypse. Photoshop can be used to alter the digital files of individual images and to merge images in fanciful combinations. It is easy to do, but hard to do well; the trick is to create a collage with portents of meaning—and yet do it without being too literal, like a rebus. Using bits and pieces drawn mostly from pop culture—movies, the Internet, magazines and newspapers—Mr. de Esteban does this. The nine works at Klompching are dreamlike intimations of catastrophe.
The largest element of “A Technological Construct of Totality” (2013) is a human body bound with heavy ropes and seemingly suspended. It is not clear if the body is that of a man or a woman, and it is rendered in a pale green. The background color is a brownish red; a woman’s head stares out at us from the bottom of the image without apparently noticing the green figure, and other body parts in varying scales are also incorporated.
The main element of “Defined by Catastrophe” (2013) is the silhouette of a car set at an impossible incline against a burst of yellow; the background is a pale blue figured with negative and positive portraits of someone in a Chairman Mao uniform.