Allegra LaViola Gallery is pleased to present O-Pee-Chee Dirt Pile, a collaborative exhibition by Joe Grillo and Jason McLean. Comprised of collage, drawing, painting, sculpture and mixed media installation, the two artists have teamed up to create a sensational environment in which the gallery becomes a lab for experimentation.
Joe Grillo and Jason McLean first met in 2004 when working on a collage project for Bergdorf Goodman. Both artists have collaborated extensively with others, Grillo most notably with Dearraindrop and Kenny Scharf; McLean with the Royal Art Lodge and All Star Schnauzer Band. After their initial meeting, Grillo and McLean continued to correspond and send each other drawings and collages via mail, each expanding upon the other’s ideas and creations to form another. In addition to their visual work they also have played music together under various pseudonyms, including Modern Dads, Bubble Gum Phoenix and The Stupid Babys.
Joe Grillo’s electric cartoon characters seem to pop from the page when looked at. Each image is a puzzle that wraps around another layer, unfolding itself slowly despite the initial sugar rush of saturated color. The friendly faces can be menacing as well, and the flat simplicity is deceptive. As well as the ingenuousness of graffiti and outsider pop art and punk art, a darker vein pulses through the work, recalling the intricate worlds of Bosch’s bright landscapes.
A disarming cheerfulness is also apparent in Jason McLean’s work, where neon colors and flatly drawn figures often intone sardonic political commentary. As a Canadian, McLean’s outsider status in the USA gives him the ability to observe and comment from afar. The status of the Canadian artist with his nose perpetually against the glass is a reoccurring theme in McLean’s work. His homeland does not escape lightly, however, as everything from socialized medicine to radio station DJs falls under McLean’s witty commentary.
Drawing inspiration from a wide variety of both art historical and pop-culture sources, Grillo and McLean work together to continue a conversation. Unlike the constant insistence of the contemporary artist to be the one lone star in the sky, both Grillo and McLean use each other as inspiration and activation to achieve a more generous end. By allowing themselves to abandon the idea of total artistic isolation the results achieved are a marriage of true minds, each bringing a complimentary element to the other.
Joe Grillo (b. 1980 in Meteor City, Arizona) has exhibited work individually and with Dearraindrop. He has had shows at Deitch Projects, NYC (2004, 2007), PS1, NYC (2004), V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (2006, 2007), ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Ishøj (2008), Loyal, Malmö (2010), G.A.D. Norway (2011) and Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2011). He is represented by The Hole, NYC, where he recently had a show with Kenny Scharf, and his work has been reviewed in the New York Times and the Art Newspaper.
Jason McLean (b. 1971 in London, Ontario) has exhibited work numerous times with Jessica Bradley Art & Projects, Toronto, MOCCA, Toronto, Perugi Art Contemporary, Padova, Richard Heller Gallery, LA, and Vancouver Art Gallery, and as well as appearing in shows in Dublin, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris, Venice. He was recently chosen by Macleans Magazine as one of the top ten visual artists to watch for in Canada, and has been reviewed and featured in Canadian Art, Flash Art and Modern Painters. This is his second show with Allegra LaViola Gallery.