“Paper Tears,” an exhibition of all new works by artist Jaybo Monk opened recently at Soze Gallery in LA. I connected with him to discuss his new body of work, and how it relates to poetry, travel, what came before and what comes next.
K: Congratulations on a beautiful show and a really solid opening! How have you felt about the exhibit?
J: Thank you, to be honest I forget my work soon as it has been done. I consider every show like pages from a book that continuously get closer to its end , therefore I am more interested in the next page as the one I just have read.
K: This new work of yours in “Paper Tears” is quite an evolution from past works in a way I love. They are much smaller and feel more personal. Can you tell us a little about how you may have approached this series differently than works in the past?
J: Since I remember I always have drawn my ideas on paper before I even put them in words. Each morning I wake up out of a dream, I try to remember it in a visual form. What I normally do on a bigger scale is the result of more than one dream. In “Paper Tears” I show one dream at once. The medium I used is also more personal: pocket aquarelles, pencils, ink… they also have a kind of diary aspect in them, involving time between each piece.
K: This bit of poetry that accompanies your show really caught my attention: “i am the fist in my own face / my hurricane of silence / the glance in my blindness / i am my own collection of almosts.” Do you write poetry often?
J: I notice that words are made to sublime the reality and that paintings or drawings tend to concrete the unreal. I do think that metaphors can be used visually where every word is a color and every line a rhythm. Somehow there are two ends on that candle and I just love to burn both ways.
K: I inquire about the poetry because it seems to me that the way you use negative space in your construction of that poem really seems to parallel the way in which you construct the images in your new body of work “Paper Tears.” It feels like there’s a lot of breathing room in this new work. Does poetry relate to your work, and if so, how?
J: The way I wrote is exactly the same as the way I draw or paint, it happens. Following the instincts of rhythm and composition, both are made out of little decisions, sometimes good sometimes wrong . Each line of the poetry could be use as a title for each layer in each piece. I am not splitting them from each other. Everything I do is part of a singular bigger piece… written or painted, they are all one.
K: Tell us about what inspires the imagery and text in the works of “Paper Tears.”
J: I try to approach the walls which we are building around us. I tried to show the space between us, the limits of those borders. Our self mutilation made out of our forced behaviors and preconceived ideas and maybe the prison of our forced education- but this what I see afterwards. I wasn’t aware about it during the process.
K: You began this series of 67 small pieces in Berlin, continued working on them in Portugal and then completed them back again in Berlin. How did traveling with your work affect your process?
J: It happened by chance as I had to leave for Portugal before being ready for the show and I was curious to see if this travel would change my approach to it, which it definitely did. It was hard to keep each dream but somehow the fact of traveling helped to focus. A bit like a wire-walker: there is one point on his body which doesn’t move during his walk. So I had the chance to have two answers to the same question, thesis and antithesis and finally synthesis happened naturally through the different lights and locations.
K: You mentioned in your statement that you are “researching how to make new mistakes,” which is terribly ironic, yet makes perfect sense artistically. Would you elaborate on how your “research” is going and your philosophy surrounding it?
J: There is no other way for evolving. I have to fall to jump further. I am here to learn out of my answers in front of my canvas or papers. I have to provoke and to escape my own comfort zone as I said: I am the fist in my own face…. a collection of almosts. I will continue to change avidly. I always loved to walk in untouched snow. To be alone somewhere. To break the first layers of light in the morning where I can feel myself and not me in relation to others. To make mistakes means that to me… to discover.
K: Are you currently working on any other exhibitions or projects that we can watch for?
J : I am preparing my Amsterdam solo show at the KALLENBACH GALLERY called THE SPACE BETWEEN which is actually gonna be the following up of “Paper Tears”. I am working on a project for IWISHUSUN, a new platform for charity, called BLIND MEMORIES, where after a time of observation I will try to interpret the portrait of the observed person in complete darkness. Those originals will be available to purchase and the money will help unfortunate cataract victims with a chirurgical intervention.