Our relationship with the British artist, Jonathan Monk (b. 1969) began in 1997 when he was living in Los Angeles for two years, a period that became quite informative for his practice. Fourteen years later, we are extremely pleased to present Monk’s seventh exhibition at Casey Kaplan. YOUR NAME HERE resurrects drawings and photographs from Monk’s time in southern California alongside new sculptural works in neon, marble, fabric and leather, that are interspersed with the second installment of a project that has been three years in the making, the “Rew-Shay Hood Project”, 2008-2011.
Monk continually questions identity and authorship, while engaging in a game of intellect and wit between himself, Conceptual artists from the 1960s and 70s, and the viewer. Beginning in early 2008, Monk found inspiration within Ed Ruscha’s 1967 iconic photographic series and limited edition book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, where Ruscha shot black & white photographs of twenty-six different gas stations found along the legendary Route 66 highway on a road trip from his studio in Los Angeles to his home state of Oklahoma. Utilizing the talents of a commercial, hot rod, airbrush painter located in the Bronx, Monk has selected twenty-six different classic American muscle car automobile hoods to serve as the canvases for each of the original Ruscha gasoline station photographs. In Monk’s Rew-Shay Hood Project IX, Ruscha’s intentionally banal 1962 image of a Texaco station in Jackrabbit, Arizona, is transformed, newly presented onto the hood of a 1970 Datsun 240z as a dynamic, graphic airbrush painting.
Born and raised in Leicester, England and educated in Glasgow, Scotland, Monk’s understanding of art and his initial experiences, specifically of Conceptual Art, were as an outsider, a voyeur learning through images found only in books. Out of these circumstances, Monk has become an avid book collector with a serious collection of limited editions, such as: Ruscha’s 1967 Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Sol LeWitt’s 1980 Sunrise and Sunset at Praiano. Just as Monk dramatizes the intimate experience of two-dimensional images in Ruscha’s book, “Sunrise” and “Sunset” leap off the cover from LeWitt’s book onto the gallery walls in the form of neon signage written in the original Western typeface.
The title of this exhibition, YOUR NAME HERE, is additionally a poetry book by one of America’s most influential writers, John Ashbery. This duality raises the level of uncertainty over the ownership of Monk’s show, which is confounded further by a series of eight new marble headstones that contain the word “YOUR NAME HERE” etched into their surfaces in varying fonts. The stones function as advertisements on how to be memorialized with an offering of different choices of color, grain, and typeface, plus an illusion to the mortality of the father-like figures from art history that Monk so regularly quotes.
Jonathan Monk has participated in numerous recent group exhibitions at prominent institutions including: Power to the People: Contemporary conceptualism and the object in art, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2011); Exhibition, Exhibition, curated by Adam Carr, Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art Piazza, Turin, Italy (2010); Pictures about Pictures. Discourses in Painting from Albers to Zobernig, MUMOK: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, Austria (2010); Second Hand, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (2010); The Traveling Show, curated by Adriano Pedrosa, La Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico (2010); and Compass in Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, curated by Christian Rattemeyer, which travelled from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern in Spain (2010-2011). On May 14th 2009, the first installment of Monk’s “Rew-Shay Hood Project” opened in the Hudson Show Room at Artpace San Antonio, Texas. Past solo museum exhibitions include Time Between Spaces, Palais de Tokyo and Musée d’art Moderne, Paris, France, 2008 and Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, etc., Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, Germany; travelled to the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen. St. Gallen, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany; and Leiterin Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany from 2006 – 2007. The artist lives and works in Berlin, Germany.