I was pretty excited about John Park‘s opening at C.A.V.E Gallery because I’ve known him for a few years, and have watched his work grow. We first met when, once a month, I would haul my guitar to the Foundation Room at the House of Blues and play my quirky love songs. John would be there every time, live painting in the back. I got to watch as he created dreamy landscapes and portraits of young ingenues drawn from the realms of mythology and romance. His work was always stunning.
On ay the opening on Saturday, June 29th, John admitted that although he was perfecting his craft during this time, and experiencing a good measure of success, eventually he was
sort of painting the same thing over and over… I was stuck [in my life]…and it showed in the work.
He says that last year he broke free from the monotony and got in touch with his anger. He began painting weapon wielding gorillas, standing sure footed in chaotic urban environments. Park began to make wearable gorilla masks emulating the new work. These masks brought him to a new realization:
[I realized] what you focus on, is what is created in your life. I moved away from the anger, and created something else.
On Saturday this “something else” showed a beautiful balance between strength and vulnerability with his new series “Guerrilla Warfare.” Youthful heroes peer from beneath gorilla masks, revealing defiant optimism in a used-up world. I loved how the characters also strike an interesting balance between the cartoon and the heartbreakingly real. Standing guard against a swirling landscape of color, dotted with archaic telephone poles, pretty skulls and birds flying against an otherwise empty sky, they hold guns with flowers in the barrels. John almost, almost named this show “Flower Power.”
At the show, he happily wore his own gorilla mask, along with his girlfriend Julie, who also donned a John Park printed dress- decorated with the calligraphy usually found in John’s work. It was a great thing to see them emulating the characters in the paintings and made for a special night. The show, and John’s playful participation in it, showed how much of an artist willing to expose his personal strengths and weaknesses in order to tell a story, he really is. So inspiring and so fun! You can experience John’s live painting for yourself in just a couple weeks at the Southland’s upcoming music festival Lightning in a Bottle.
Sharing the room with John, Spanish artist Skount offers deliciously rich works of art, using paint and collage with paper and other materials collected from his global travels to create dynamic work with depth and contrasting color.
My favorite gorgeous piece of this collection shows a figure holding a mask to the side, revealing a black and white childlike universe underneath–its’ the kind of universe that might be represented in the glow in the dark stars and planets pasted on a child’s bedroom ceiling. The figure itself is a surprisingly seamless combination of a 17th century court jester and a tribal African shaman. All of the figures in his pieces share this dress, a beautiful balance struck between the truly comical and truly complex nature of life. Amazing.
Skount was bummed that two of the pieces, his favorite of the show, were lost in transit. When I asked him about the work, he kept referencing these two missing pieces. I totally understood, and wished him the best in getting them back. The show itself, is mesmerizing and feels complete, had he not mentioned the pieces, I never would have know. These pieces are truly magical, and I have no doubt the two lost ones will magically return to their creator!
Rounding out the show is London-based Pure Evil‘s Andy Warhol inspired work. Haunting stark white images of Hollywood Princesses, etched in bold lines of bright color, welcome us to stare at the emptiness within each subject, a deep thick tear stain streams down each face- inviting us to look at their pain, without fear of that old annoying thing called empathy. His work adds a humorous grounding element to the show as a whole.
Depth and lightness combine to make this summer show as heady, or whimsical, as you want it to be. C.A.V.E. Gallery once again proves to be a place that can both surprise and mesmerize. Props go to C.A.V.E. for allowing these artists to go beyond the scope of the frame and create breath taking installations. A trip to the gallery just to see the walls alone is worth it. The current three-man show is up through July 15.
Also, I was thrilled to learn that for every opening, C.A.V.E. offers a free entry raffle. This time they gave away a John Park print. The lucky winner was beside herself with glee. This is a gallery that goes above and beyond to connect with and excite its audience.
C.A.V.E. offers a cool, colorful, beautiful edgy show that makes you feel cooler just being in the room. It’s a win all round.
John Park, Skount, Pure Evil
1180 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
Through July 15, 2013
Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 6pm
All photos: Courtesy C.A.V.E. Gallery