In Immediate Realities, a guest-curated exhibition by C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice Beach, Lawrenceville's Revision Space creates a multifaceted dialogue between pop-surrealism and street art from both local and international artists. The opening reception on June 19th garnered an impressive turnout of region-wide spectators and featured local favorite DJ Kelly, as well as a raffle for one of the artworks in the show.
While the idea of taking street art and confining it to the walls of a gallery sounds like its antithesis, C.A.V.E. succeeds in making the transition a smooth and respectful one that celebrates the freedom and rebelliousness of the genre. Pieces such as Amanda Marie's Conversation Points and Restitution Press's brightly-colored 110 North are particular standouts, each one positioned between their more structured pop-surrealist counterparts.
Conversation Points, a mixed-media work on canvas, features a mirrored image of a young boy who seems to be speaking to his own reflection. His basic features alone resemble the spitting image of a rogue character in some 50's cartoon, but in combination with the neutrals and blacks that pervade the canvas and his black-shot eyes, he comes across as more of a dystopian clone. Meanwhile, paint drips and spray paint highlights simultaneously harken to the street art foundation of the piece and accent the ghostliness of it, holding past innocence and present corruption in tension.
110 North takes a multilayered approach to the traditional concepts of street art, one that fit individually in the exhibition with its "street art-within-street art" format. Immediately, the viewer is drawn to its bright, graffiti-like palette of orange, pink and green. Ironically enough, however such hue pops become not the focal point, but rather the foreground of the work, overshadowed by a black California highway road sign in the center. "SOAP" is graffiti'd in sky blue over the words "Freeway Entrance", and a haphazard scribble obscures the number 110. While Los Angeles interstates (and the city itself) are often idealized in pop cultural awareness, Restitution Press's irreverence in "110 North" makes for an interesting representation that splinters whatever dreamlike quality California possesses in the minds of the general public.
Immediate Realities also features a captivating mixture of pop-surrealist art, with pieces ranging from pencil sketches to acrylic paintings. Zach Johnsen, a Portland-based artist, manages to combine acrylic and smoke bomb on wood panel to create his Servants to the Trust, Blue Flame and Servants to the Trust, Red Flame. Each piece in the set depicts a man in a business suit being consumed by billowing masses of fire, though the flames do not immediately come across as sharply incendiary; rather, their edges are rounded, their patterns more like the inside of a geode than the hellish center of a conflagration. The viewer can feel the flames' soft allure that mirrors the notion of trust, something generalized as an emotional stronghold. However, in combination with the contorted man trapped in its wrath, "trust" becomes the enemy, a jarring concept that leaves the beholder questioning its function in his or her own life.
The cornerstone feat of Immediate Realities is the natural thread that seemed to connect each work, despite their seemingly sharp divergence in genre. The exhibition is well curated, as narratives of lost ideals and tainted emotion intermingled with quirkier undertones that emanated from such works as Joshua Charles Hart's Just Holding On For Tonight and similarly toned works with animals as the focal point. Attendees will leave occupying a peculiar sort of headspace that could only typify the international perspectives in Immediate Realities.
Immediate Realities is on display at Revision Space through July 19th.
All images c/o Revision Space & C.A.V.E. Gallery