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