LOS ANGELES, CA.- LAUNCH LA
presents Monochromart a new group show featuring James Griffith, Antonio Pelayo and Jennifer Celio. Despite being limited to a single color for their works, all three artists present unique works which, rather than being drab and uniform, are alive with an eclectic mix of perspectives and styles.
Griffith's paintings explore Darwin's theory of Natural Selection through skilful images of animals painted with tar on canvas. Executed with a depth of feeling akin to Durer's famous naturalistic sketches, these animals blur and morph into each other; in some places the tar is thick and in other parts it seems to fade into the white background - a visual marker for the dance of evolution and extinction. Though some of these animals are locked in combat, humans, are markedly absent as apex predators. Sea-birds painted in a substance very similar to crude-oil are enough to infer the devastation our species is capable of.
Celio cobbles together her references from different photographs to create dreamlike landscapes: wild horses and snippets of famous scenic spots appear alongside 'inconvenient and ugly elements of the urban environment' like oil derricks, graffiti, low flying airplanes and food trucks. The nonchalant way both unnatural and natural elements coexist in Celio's drawings is pleasantly absurd, yet it also exposes the fantasy that environmental issues disappear if keep out of sight and out of mind - in the real world this level of harmony does not exist.
Pelayo alternates between public figures and intimate portraits of family members for his drawings. His evident admiration for both is matched only by his reverence for technical perfection. He captures the 'hook' of each personality behind the face - emotional intensity, childhood innocence and nativity or the depth of his subject's life. Without a single coloured pen or daub of brightness, Pelayo brings out the color in each character he draws.
Celio and Pelayo both chose to use graphite and yet still came up with strikingly different results: the ambiance of Celio's work is that of a fata-morgana, her greys catching light like spider-silk, while Pelayo's subtle lines emanate a sort of nostalgic warmth, as if looking back through the blur of memory at a loved one's face. The tar Griffith harvested from the L.A. Tar Pits for his works, though still 'monochrome' alternates between amber and pitch-black depending on the fluidity of its application.
Diverse as its component parts may be, when viewed together this body of works reveals the fragile relationship between humanity, its environment and the other life-forms we share it with.
James Griffith has been working as a painter in Los Angeles since 1981. He received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena where he also taught painting and drawing. His paintings have been shown in many galleries in California and are in collections around the world. In recent years, James has made a shift from working with traditional oil paints to painting with non-traditional materials such as tar from the La Brea Tar Pits, pollen, volcanic dust, human ash, and various chemicals he finds either in nature or under the kitchen sink. The subject of his painting has always been humanity's relationship with Nature. Currently he is producing a series of tar paintings called "Natural Selection" in which he makes a poetic interpretation of Nature after the theory of evolution.
Jennifer Celio is a native of Southern California who actually loves Los Angeles. Jennifer received a B.F.A. in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Fullerton in 1996. She was raised in the suburbs of L.A. and now lives and works in Long Beach, CA. Her drawings have been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Cristinerose Gallery and Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts in New York City, the Creative Artists' Agency in Los Angeles, Romo Gallery in Atlanta, GA among others. Her work has also been included in group exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Canada. She a recent recipient of The City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowship, as well as a number of other prestigious awards. Her work was published in Studio Visit (2009) and New American Paintings (2003) and was Shortlisted in the 2008 London International Creative Competition. Her drawings have received critical review in such publications as The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Art Papers, Art Ltd. Magazine, Artillery Magazine and the Huffington Post.
Artist Antonio Pelayo, born in Glendale, California and raised most of his childhood in the Mexican countryside, has never had his own country. Moving from an American suburb to a tiny village has kept his world unstable; yet that very instability has made him an artist. Drawing on muses like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and non-Mexican influences like the surrealism of the late H.R. Giger, Antonio creates art with a distinctly American flavor. His first solo exhibition Mi Familia was held at LAUNCH LA in 2012. This has since been followed by further solo shows, such as for El Velorio, a day of the dead tribute and fundraiser for the Plaza Del Raza cultural center in Los Angeles in 2013. He has also appeared in group shows in museums around the world, earning several awards including 'Best of Show Ontario Museum 2007' and the 'People's Choice Award' at the 3rd Ward Open Call NY. His drawings have been featured in Lowrider Arte Magazine, Chicano Art Magazine and the Latino Heritage Calendar.