Sleepwalking Along the Dotted Line: JoKa at C.A.V.E. Gallery

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JoKa 1


JoKa is definitely up to something. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he has nefarious intent, but he’s certainly lurking in our dreamworld, observing our lust and our fears, ready to pounce on the first chimera he finds. Well, I’ve been observing JoKa too. He’s an artist that seized my attention a couple of years ago with his darkly erotic, menacing visions. My interest and admiration has grown exponentially with every new painting. He is one of  four featured artists (along with Craww, Young Chun, and Muneera Gerald) at C.A.V.E Gallery‘s current (and untitled) show, which opened on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

It’s not just that JoKa has tapped into aspects of my own schizoid psyche that captivates me, it’s how he gets there. Alienation, phobias, carnality, and death, these are all well-explored themes in the art canon, especially as they relate to phantasms and woolgathering. But where other artists have been content to peel layers away from the complex onion of ego in an attempt to expose its core, JoKa seems to be holding all those layers up to the light, revealing a greater truth. There can be great beauty in the things we keep dormant. The things we quietly fear, the things we secretly crave, the things that toss and turn us at night, these are all signs of life.

Before I get too Jungian with my analysis of JoKa’a art, it’s worth mentioning how he does what he does. JoKa uses toothpicks to apply the paint in his elegantly wrought visions, dot upon tiny dot. It’s pointillism sure, but that, in and of itself, gives you no real reference point for JoKa’s work. He’s gotten so good at it that you really have to strain your eyes to see the technique. He has honed his skill to the point that there is virtually no surface texture to the paint. He builds thin layers, placing disparate images (culled from vintage magazines) on top of one another which fuse together to form ethereal scenes. His paintings often have verbose titles and tend to give some indication of exactly what type of haunting you may be looking at (Whisper a song of death and fear will blossom in your dreams).

The show at C.A.V.E. is the largest grouping of his paintings I’ve seen yet, seven in all. Each piece is pretty much a jaw-dropper, and has only deepened my thirst for a large-scale JoKa show. Which is not to take anything away from the other artists in the show. Craww explores the feminine mystique with poetic grace. Muneera Gerald’s soft watercolors have a sort of profound simplicity to them, while Young Chun takes the big-eyed child thing to new (and incredibly creepy) heights. All of this is worth seeing, but JoKa  gets me in the door. JoKa challenges me. He challenges my perception. What I look for in art is a mind at work. JoKa’s mind is working hard, and at a high level. Even if considered on a purely technical level, he’s pushing pointillism in a bold new direction. Not too long ago, I put him in league with Chuck Close. I’m pretty confident that I won’t be walking that statement back any time soon.

The show is on view through April 1, 2013

C.A.V.E. Gallery
1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA. 90291
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12pm to 6pm
or by appointment

JoKa - Prey Before Slumber

Prey before slumber by JoKa

Joka - Some Don't Sleep

Some don’t sleep and know our secrets by JoKa

JoKa - Running From a Spinning World

Running from a spinning world only leads to headaches by JoKa

JoKa - Forever Speak

Forever speak is eternal by JoKa

JoKa - Whisper Song of Death

Whisper a song of death and fear will blossom in your dreams by JoKa

JoKa - Without You

Without you the night will tear me in two by JoKa 


JoKa - Every Direction detail

Every Direction is Interchangeable by JoKa


Crowd 1

The Craww wall

Crowd 2

JoKa (possibly talking about toothpicks).

Crowd 4

The Young Chun admiration society

Craww - Lambent

Lambent by Craww

Craww - Penumbral

Penumbral by Craww

Young Chun - Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese on Rye by Young Chun

Young Chun - Jig 1

The Jig is Up by Young Chun

Young Chun - Lit

Lit by Young Chun

Muneera - Quiet Time

Quiet Time by Muneera Gerald

Muneera -Lookout

Lookout by Muneera Gerald

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