NOT HERE aptly describes the dislocation and instability inherent in John Jurayj’s new body of work which continues his exploration of imagery from the thirty-year conflict in Lebanon, his family’s homeland. Returning to navigate the space between representation and abstraction in his large scale canvases, this exhibition also introduces paintings on mirrored plexi as well as works on paper.
Using electric colors, photographic appropriation, and varying tropes of abstract mark making, Jurayj interrogates painting’s limits and capabilities. Pop Art, late 20th century German Painting and Art Povera are all referenced and mined for pictorial strategies. Paint becomes a subjective vehicle to reinforce, disrupt and elide both image and meaning as representations of war and trauma are explored in his work. By introducing mirrored plexi as “canvas”, Jurayj implicates the viewer into the pictorial space of violent historical events, blurring the line between the personal and the public: Lebanon thus exists both as a nation-state and a metaphor for loss and difference. Edward Said has written that , “The exile exists in a median state, neither completely at one with the new setting nor fully disencumbered of the old, beset with half-involvements and half-detachments, nostalgic and sentimental on one level, an adept mimic or secret outcast on another……..a source not of acculturation and adjustment, but rather of volatility and instability.” In manipulating and debasing images of war from the media, Jurayj traverses such a territory – one beset with disequilibrium, yet interlaced with the exuberance, melancholia and the miasma of political disturbance.
John Jurayj received his MFA from Bard College in 2005. He had a White Room at White Columns in 2000 and has been included in various group shows both in New York City and Los Angeles . He most recently had a solo show in 2006/2007 at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles.