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Phil Frost and Gary Taxali

Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor, 212-243-3822
April 4 - May 2, 2009
Reception: Saturday, April 4, 7 - 9 PM
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Jonathan LeVine Gallery is proud to present Paperweight, a solo exhibition of new works by Phil Frost. For his first show at the gallery, Frost has created a new series of works on paper, including paintings and original drawings. As his first exhibition in New York in the past three years, Paperweight marks a highly anticipated event for this celebrated artist.

Using mediums such as ink, aerosol, gouache and oils, beneath a layer of correction fluid, Frost has been known to paint elaborate installations on found objects such as baseball bats, windowpanes, and old barn doors. Oscillating between modernist design and primitivism, abstraction and representation, Frost’s work is tied together cohesively by his signature top-layer of crisp white patterning—remarkably drawn free-hand with a correction fluid pen, without the use of stencils. This white-out element often appears to form a code or language, composed of letters, hearts, dots and mask-like faces, reminiscent of tribal and indigenous art. These symbols, which the artist refers to as “glyphic distinctions,” are painted on top of heavily textured backgrounds. The overall effect is a masking yet highlighting of negative space, like a delicate lace of personal faith and truth, veiling the decay of humanity. Frost’s deep pantheistic spirituality is expressed through imagery such as in the open-heart motif, which represents the surrender of self to a higher purpose.


Roberta Fallon, ArtNet: “Obsessive, earnest and touched by the garage grunge aesthetic, Phil Frost’s paintings and assemblages broadcast an urgent message of spirituality.”

Arty Nelson, LA Weekly: “Process aside, the finished product is a monument to the wonders of obsessive expression. The abstractly washed backgrounds and myriad tribal patterns meld together to remind the viewer that no matter how loud the white noise of modern life gets, the “shaman state” is still attainable.”

Roberta Smith, New York Times: “…his paintings and altar-like sculptures exude extreme sophistication, specifically a confidant fusion of graffiti, modern art, modern design and the primitive art that influenced so many facets of modernism. The results are exuberantly decorative and fierce…”

ABOUT THE ARTIST Phil Frost is a self-taught artist whose unique work brings together aspects of urban culture, abstraction, tribalism, and design. In the 1990s, Frost honed his skills by painting walls, found objects and street detritus with his intricate, compulsive and highly evolved form of graffiti. He painstakingly crafts his colorful mixed-media paintings and totemic sculptures by collaging layers of found imagery on grounds of flat, symmetrical black-and-white patterning. The recipient of several grants and awards, Frost’s idiosyncratic work is included in prominent public and private collections worldwide. He has exhibited widely in both galleries and museums in the US, Europe and Asia. His work has been featured in exhibitions at institutions such as The Aldrich Museum, Queens Museum of Art, and in the Beautiful Losers traveling exhibition, which was shown at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to announce Hindi Love Song, a solo exhibition of new works by Gary Taxali. For his fist solo show in New York, the artist has created a series of mixed-media paintings and sculptures in what will be his largest collection of original work to date, both in quantity and in scale. Highly explorative when it comes to application methods, Taxali combines layers of collaged materials and silk-screening techniques. His images are produced using a variety of mediums—ink, oil, acrylic, enamel, and gouache—applied to a number of different surfaces including: paper, plywood, masonite, steel, aluminum, and vintage book covers.

Hindi Love Song features Taxali’s anachronistic aesthetic, evoking nostalgia for an era before his own time. Expanding upon his signature style, works in the show feature playful imagery inspired by vintage animation and packaging, often combining the artist’s hand-rendered typography with geometric patterns to compliment his figures. In a Los Angeles Times review, Holly Myers wrote: “The work of Gary Taxali takes a basically juvenile bibliophilic impulse—doodling in the leaves of borrowed books—to a more artistically sophisticated level. There is an appealing sense of play, drawn from childhood but supported by a mature iconographic sensibility.”

An award-winning illustrator, Taxali’s process in creating commercial work remains void of digital assistance (a rare trait in an increasingly electronic industry) which perhaps has led to the appeal and stylistic development of his retro-looking visuals. The same is true of his approach to gallery work, which is based on a deep love of drawing and hands-on printmaking methods. Taxali’s subjects, with their minimalist yet exaggerated facial expressions and gestures, are painted in flat color onto found materials and other non-traditional canvases. Some of his characters have been created in three-dimensional form, first as a series of vinyl figures, and later in fiberglass. For this show, one of Taxali’s reoccurring characters makes his debut appearance as a limited edition bronze sculpture. Gary Taxali’s new line of limited edition gold and porcelain cufflinks, produced by Hobbs & Kent, will also be on view and available for purchase during the exhibition.
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