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Souther Salazar and Andy Kehoe

Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor, 212-243-3822
May 16 - June 13, 2009
Reception: Saturday, May 16, 7 - 9 PM
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Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Last Year’s Man, a solo exhibition of new works by Los Angeles based artist, Souther Salazar. Returning for his second solo show at the gallery, Salazar has created a new series of original mixed-media paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Last Year’s Man features the largest collection of Salazar’s work to date, assembled into a site-specific installation. Expanding upon his signature aesthetic, Salazar’s dynamic compositions are colorful accumulations of simply drawn characters and their surrounding communities. A single canvas might contain hundreds of narratives and microcosmic worlds within worlds. The depth and complexity of the artist’s large, multi-layered paintings are complimented by the minimalist simplicity of his smaller monochromatic line drawings on paper.

Salazar’s two-dimensional pieces incorporate mixed-media collage techniques often mirrored in his three-dimensional work, which transforms the surrounding environment, pulling viewers into the picture plane to further explore his representational world. Salazar’s highly imaginative installations are the physical embodiment of the subject matter found in his whimsical paintings. His carefully crafted sculptures feature tiny civilizations of baked-clay human and animal figures living within cities constructed using a variety of found objects. Inventively recycling every-day materials into his medium—Salazar transforms ordinary items such as pencils, bottle caps, thread spools, matchbooks, and tin cans into robots, dinosaurs, and transportation vehicles—converting light bulbs into hot-air balloons while glue dispensers and asthma inhalers become flying rockets and space ships.

Many of Salazar’s characters are portrayed with a sense of melancholy, peacefully secluded from their populated surroundings, buzzing with life. Creating intuitively in a stream of conscious style, Salazar says that his work is sometimes inspired by the materials themselves. Regarding his process, in the artist’s own words: “Ultimately, a lot of what I end up making is an idea that’s pleasing to myself, especially in the pieces that try to depict an ideal world. It’s sort of processing memories, drawing things I like to draw, responding to materials. What I end up with in the end is a sense of community that I think is interesting, something that I’d like to find… a mixture of worlds I have lived in and worlds that would be fun if they existed.”

ABOUT THE ARTIST Souther Salazar was born in 1978 in Hayward, CA. As a teenager in the early 1990’s, Salazar made photocopied cut-and-paste minicomics and ‘zines in his bedroom in rural Oakdale. After graduating from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Salazar moved to Los Angeles where he currently lives and works. His artwork reinterprets the world, making it into a mythical place full of carnivals, lost cities, giant insects, dinosaurs, and a variety of other creatures. He mixes media, adding layers of storytelling to create his imagery, which can be explored for hours. Salazar exhibits his collages, paintings, drawings, and sculptures in dense and frenzied installations that encourage exploration and participation by the viewer. His work has been exhibited in galleries and Museums in cities around the world including: New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Tokyo, and São Paulo, Brazil.

Souther Salazar

Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to announce Living In Twilight, a solo exhibition of new works by Andy Kehoe. The artist has created a new series of oil and acrylic paintings on wood panel, including some of the largest-scale pieces he has ever produced, for what will be his first solo show in New York and largest collection of work, to date. Kehoe’s allegorical compositions are painted in a low-key palette of rich autumn and earth tones beneath a fine layer of crisp black accents. Many of his characters of the part-man-part-beast variety are portrayed with a strong sense of alienation, finding peace and beauty in solitude to overcome feeling alone. Elemental details like skylight and foliage (or lack thereof, on bare tree branches) represent the passing of time and seasons of change. Kehoe’s isolated figures are often surrounded by the majestic grandeur of nature (a character in and of itself), which has a powerful influence on the artist and is present throughout his work. The nature theme illustrates perspective on how small and insignificant our problems are in the larger scheme of things, although the artist says that he “completely sympathizes and relates to the heavy toll these problems have on the mind and heart.”

Living In Twilight features Kehoe’s trademark style of imagery inspired by traditional folktales and mythological art with narratives of the fantastic and grotesque. Nostalgic for a time before society’s age of science (or before an individual’s developmental age of reason), Kehoe rekindles a childlike sense of wonder in his work, recalling an era when fables and legends were believed as truths to explain all the mysteries of the unknown. Even though Kehoe’s world is a magical imaginary one, it is not a perfect fairytale—contrasting forces of nature and human emotions surround primordial themes of life and death—and the fundamental plight of mankind still exists through greed, betrayal, deceit, violence, and self-destruction. On the title chosen for his show, in the artist’s own words: “Twilight can be seen as the waning moments of decline preceding an eventual end. The sun disappears over the horizon, as the onset of darkness is assured and approaching. The actual moment spent in twilight is an instant when two strong forces hang in the balance and quietly coexist. I wanted to make a world that lives in this delicate harmony, even with the promise of change and resolution lying impatiently on a cusp, ready to break…I continue to build this world piece by piece, creature by creature and story by story.”

ABOUT THE ARTIST Andy Kehoe was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and now spends his days painting in his attic in Portland, OR. He grew up reading comics, enjoying the cool costumes and the ridiculous, stylized violence. Now relishing the nostalgia of childhood, he remembers the days of his youth spent watching cartoons, reading storybooks and doodling all day. This childlike sense of wonder is something Andy tries to portray in his work, reflecting a time when magic and monsters existed and all the mysteries of the world were possible. After high school, Andy took a long and expensive tour of art schools and finally ended up at Parsons School of Design in NY, where he studied illustration. After a few illustration stints, Andy began to focus on his personal work—and in the years that followed, his paintings have been shown in galleries across the country.

Andy Kehoe
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