Artist Matthew Craven primarily works in collage. His work, however, diverges from a lot of typical collage styles. Craven doesn’t juxtapose found imagery to create an effect from the contrast. Rather, he sources imagery of what seems to be ancient archaeological artifacts. The black and white images resemble the photographs of old issues of National Geographic. Further, the way Craven assembles the images doesn’t seem an attempt to draw disparities. Instead, he almost appears to categorizing objects, setting up classifications without labeling. Still, his work is fine art and not an exercise in archaeology. Craven doesn’t offer easy conclusions – there is no simple reading of history to be gotten in his work. Rather, Craven looks back at history with his collaged images as art does. It underscores the difficulty in reducing human history to one accurate narrative. The gallery statement of his current solo exhibit at DCKT Contemporary further explains:
“Archaeological remains and ruins act as backdrops for forming crypto-historical collages and drawings. Images from lost cultures, relics and landscapes both well-known and extremely ambiguous create the patterns within the works. The results are compositions that highlight a new connection to our past in an aesthetic that is intended to be both cinematic in scope and visionary in perspective. Understanding that our view of history is deeply flawed and inherently biased, we are left with a puzzle of strange pieces. Oblivious Path combines these puzzle pieces into a new framework. Some of these pieces appear to fit together despite thousands of years and tens of thousands miles separating these ancient civilizations. Using source materials from historical texts, Oblivious Path scrambles our current notions of space and time. The powerful images we are left with cannot be reinterpreted, translated or disregarded. What is left was carved in stone. It is permanent. They are our sacred truths.” ( via the jealous curator)
“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.
It comes as no surprise to anyone who idles away hours at a computer screen looking at design and art sites that the cut and paste collage medium is seeing a resurgence in importance. Sharing the internet’s tendencies of immediacy, appropriation and a denial of visual ownership, collage combines anything and everything to create a natural response and reflection of our age.
The collage work of Jesse Draxler similarly combines these strengths and tendencies, though with hand-crafted technique. His mixed-media fusion of found images, typography and design sensibilities thrives in information-overload times, both in drawing inspiration as well as being viewed instantaneously. By finding source material from anything, Draxler is able to ‘remix’ fashion spreads as easily as referencing art movements, crafting a new 2-dimensional language that has an immediate accessibility. This intentional referencing of constant stimulus, which is manipulated first and considering after, is essentially a kind of hyper-consumption of images that might be the descendant of William Burroughs’ cut-up technique. Draxler has no contention with this, saying, “Going through my Tumblr feed is like gathering ammunition which I will use myself, in my own way. I am able to see trends emerge in real-time, and I think about how I can fit those aesthetics into what I do, or even wrap what I do around those aesthetics.” Essentially everything, regardless of theme, origin, niche or intent, has the potential to become inspiration.
Recently featured in Gestalten’s The Age of Collage, a survey of the foremost collage artists working in the world today, Draxler’s ability to draw inspiration from anything fully portrays the strength of the visual remix medium.
The art of Ala Ebtekar is as simple as it is effective. Ebtekar was born in the United States and raised in California but retained a strong connection to the land of his heritage, Iran. You can nearly see in Ebtekar’s work a gazing at home from far away, a sort of portal. Ebtekar is definitely referencing the cosmic with this work. He says of the Sufi influence behind his work, “Sufis believe that existence is of two natures – both earthly and divine – and it’s that transition between these two states that’s represented by an arch. The arch could be in architecture, but it could also be a beloved’s eyebrow, and how that’s an entrance to that other space.” Ebtekar also subtly uses Western imagery in addressing this “other space” – you’ll notice some of these pieces printed on the back of science fiction movie posters.
Mixing an admiration for John Baldessari with her own childhood memories of cutting/altering magazines with her mother, Flore Kunst creates captivating collages from vintage postcards and magazines, while sprinkling a few contemporary clippings throughout. A graduate of Emile Cohl for design, Kunst’s eye for intriguing detail and clean lines is evident; however, it’s her creative visual juxtapositions that truly capture our attention most, allowing us to meditate on the female form and its signifiers from era to era– how it all clashes and confuses even the most contemporary culture and its psyche.
Inspired by her Oakland surroundings and the mysterious life of collected objects (from homeless shopping carts to a public disposal & recycling area), Amy Wilson Faville collages her own drawings in with an assortment of vibrant materials such as old mattress fabric, file folders, vintage wallpaper, and other scraps. Comparable to quilt-making, Faville’s compositions incorporate consistent patterns with eclectic pops of color, conceptually mirroring her subject matter.
Speaking on her Carts series specifically, Faville states, “My goal was to use the power of beauty to transform images of squalor into splendor.”
A. Ruiz Villar parcels out space in relation to geometric positions, with minimal pops of color threaded throughout. His subtle gradations of white give special depth and age to the work so imagery doesn’t feel flat, but formed, or architecturally emerging. These vibrant compositions are not easy to visually choreograph– however, Villar makes it look beautifully accidental and organic.
Of his work, Villar’s stance seems like a conceptual mash-up of science, math, and poetry, suggesting it “revolves around the quest for a language akin to the following factors: 1.1.1. Provisionality (doubt): Lack of an evident purpose. 1.1.2. Continuity: There are silences, there’s no rest. 1.1.3. Uprootedness: There’s no commitment to technique, structure, or materials.”
Whether it’s hand painted, collaged, and/or sewn together, Jenny Toth imaginatively entwines colorful drawings of the animal kingdom to meditate on a sometimes humorous, and always surreal study of the female condition.
Of her work, Toth states, “For many years I have been intrigued by the way women artists choose to depict themselves. Like many other artists, my view dramatically differs from a historical approach to the female model. I choose to include elements not traditionally viewed as beautiful—for example, a deformed toe, hairy legs, unkempt hair. However I have no interest in shocking the viewer, but seek to share my honest, uncensored observations. I have always been allergic to pretense and slickness.”