Lester Monzon: Si vis pacem para bellum Jason Salavon: All The Ways Through Saturday, April 9 Mark Moore Gallery
Jason Salavon custom wallpaper from All the Ways
Lester Monzon, Untitled, 11x14
I was at Mark Moore Gallery to see Jason Salavon’s All the Ways- an exhibit of abstract works created from the endless variations of data resulting from pop culture phenomenon. The long-running television show, The Simpsons, is the primary data source for this exhibit, and the element that piqued my curiosity in the first place. Salavon used various data manipulations to create several wall works, and three bound books, which held his data expressions of the nearly 600 episodes of the Simpsons. The books, titled “All The Ways” Volume 1-3, reduced each episode to a series of lines or colored grids. The only hints at the original source material was the episode titles on each page, and the colors of the books - their covers in yellow, blue and vermilion-red - iconic Simpsons character colors. The way the data overtook and erased the greater concept of its original subject was conceptually intriguing, but the dismantling of a cultural icon into pure meaninglessness resulted in work that was purposefully sterile. All The Waysleft me with an intense need to see something that would counteract the terrible feeling that algorithms would ultimately destroy human culture. Luckily, that something was in the same gallery.
It was Lester Monzon’s exhibit of small abstract paintings, Si vis pacem para bellum, an explosion of strokes and textures beautifully intertwined on a bed of thickly applied gesso that had been sanded smooth. The exhibit title, which translates to “if you want peace, prepare for war” captures the feeling of chaos and order within the paintings - architectural, gridded pencil lines and porous, smooth, white spaces balance color-filled, impasto jumbles of painted shape and line.
There is so much packed into this work, and Monzon fits it all beautifully. Most of the paintings are 11 x 14, with a few at approximately 20 x 30 . Often small abstract paintings can feel crowded, muddy or unfinished but Monzon avoids all this. The color feels pure and extreme, the gestures of the brush feel as grand and alive as if they were painted with the movement of the entire body. The contrast between the winding layers of paint, the calculated pencil lines and the blank spaces build a depth in these paintings that could be endlessly explored: the eye moving from a dense stroke of neon orange, green, white and yellow to a smooth turquoise pool, which wraps into layers of thick ropes of paint, obliterating, then revealing ordered graphite lines. In these paintings the minimal, sparse and organized collides with the messy, complex and tumultuous - but instead of complete disaster there is harmony. I felt that I could look at these works for hours - getting lost inside the color, texture and contrast, finding myself again in the way such disparate elements could coexist. Si vis pacem para bellum- a reminder of a world that is simultaneously chaotic and orderly, a world that makes its own destructions and remedies. Both exhibits are on view through April 9 at Mark Moore gallery, 5790 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA. I shot the few pictures above and below while I was visiting the gallery. Please see the links below for more photos of the artist's work. More of Lester Monzon's work at Mark Moore here. More of Jason Salavon's work at Mark Moore here.
Jason Salavon, All the Ways, Vol 1-3
Jason Salavon, All the Ways book detail, Episode 155: You Only Move Twice