New works by Kiel Johnson and Mark Dean Veca
By Julie Faith
Jaus Gallery – 11851 La Grange Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90025
Through November 6th
“The Roof. The Roof. The Roof is on Fire. We don’t need no water, let the mutha f–ker burn. – Rockmaster Scott and the Dynamic Three. Okay, maybe not the classiest ditty to open a review about an art show but when I rolled up to JAUS the roof was, very literally, on fire. In fact, the whole gallery is, thanks to Kiel Johnson and Mark Dean Veca. I should clarify, Veca’s paintings are, without a doubt “on fire” in the colloquial sense. Johnson, well, he actually installed flames in and on the building. Let’s discuss…
Legend has it that this exhibition, New works by Kiel Johnson and Mark Dean Veca, was born of a desire expressed independently by each artist to create installations on the exterior of JAUS Gallery, “Veca wanted to make a large scale mural, as he has done countless times elsewhere, on one of the walls that surrounds the gallery that is visible from the street. Johnson was interested in creating a temporary installation on the exterior of the gallery itself which would give a cartoonish illusion that the building was catching fire.” Seizing the opportunity, JAUS asked the artists fill the interior of the gallery as well.
Well known for his distinctive practice of deconstructing familiar iconic images and restructuring them into the abstract, Mark Dean Veca presents a series of his most recent paintings. Expertly sliced into layers and then fanned out for your viewing pleasure, Popeye, the Mad Hatter, and Big Daddy are dissected with the accuracy of anatomically correct 11th grade biology charts, both gastrointestinal and reproductive systems. That being said, there is also a playful, provocative nature to the work as risqué forms are revealed in the process. It is at once diabolical and delightful and beyond conventional definition.
Just off-center on the gallery floor sits Kiel Johnson’s life-size laser gun. Fabricated of, among other things, a bicycle tire and cardboard and a reclaimed kitchen stool, it generates a wooden beam which explodes into handmade wooden flames that smolder across the gallery walls. Johnson uses everyday materials to give life and movement to an otherwise inanimate object. And he does so with an unrestrained, child-like abandon.
New Works by Kiel Johnson and Mark Dean Veca is hot! The artwork contrasts and compliments perfectly without one style overshadowing the other. It’s a fun and energetic exhibition that allows viewers a close-up view of the incredible skill and innovative techniques of both artists. For this show only, Jaus is open to the public every Saturday from noon to 4pm through November 6th.