A powerful opening last weekend at Gabba Gallery brought the exhibition Metro Dreams to the LA art scene through January 30th. Four very different, very riveting artists gave viewers their own dreams, dreams intrinsically tied to the state of the nation, self-image, and inclusiveness. Both artistically and politically important, each of the very different works of these artists form four pieces of a coherent and fascinating whole.
Above, Moncho1929, whose murals dot LA, works on a smaller scale here, but with a scope of meaning just as large. Using images of freedom and restraint, with colors that delicately highlight his subjects, his pieces illuminate the duality of movement and restriction.
“I was doing these pieces about motion and constraint, and the narrative started changing. I felt like I was having my own discussion with the works, someone looking at the pieces can also have their own conversation with the series, with the journey. They evolved from color and movement into a social, political commentary. I enjoyed that,” Moncho1929 explains.
Above, Hero describes his works, whose visceral realism touches on some of the same themes of freedom and limits as Moncho1929. Hero says “When I was putting this show together, the word I had in my mind was ‘inheritance.’ I thought that the next generation is inheriting a lot of social structures, and I wanted to express that, and what they might mean.”
Above, Hero’s take on the NSA spying on our own citizens. “There’s a slapstick element to it, that someone would actually be listening in on a tin can conversation,” he notes.
“The girl with the flower basket, the image here is what’s been handed down, and what continues to be handed down and grown,” Hero states.
His mix of realistic, natural and normal images with weighty subjects and more abstract backgrounds reflects his personal influences. “I have influences from Jackson Pollock to Norman Rockwell.”
“Fixed,” above, is made with Aerosol on prescription pads and sealed with resin. The medium is, Hero says, a combination between acrylic house paint and spray paint. The subject takes on today’s social and political environment. “Lady Liberty and these prescription pads. I found the pads on eBay, it was easy to get them. The piece shows how easy it is today in this country to be medicated and anesthetized.”
Below, artist Vakseen’s works reveal another all-too-easy capability – to strip away natural imperfections and create plastic images. His work, like Hero’s, also exhibits many influences, including surrealism, cubism, and glossy high fashion.
“My work revolves around idolizations of beauty. We life in surreal times, where images displayed in print and media are supposed to be trustable but are usually cosmetically enhanced and photo-shopped. We’re teaching our youth, our women, our culture, that you’re not good enough the way you were born,” he notes.
“After awhile everyone starts to look alike, like a cookie cutter image. In my work, I create a perfect look, I’m like a plastic surgeon. At the end of the day, I want to question the way we look at beauty in our society.” Vakseen notes that at one time he weighed a hundred pounds more than his current weight. “I connect to these ideas of perfection.”
Amy Smith shares Vakseen’s ideas of the importance of being yourself – unique and empowered. “I want to be empowering and create something rustproof, something that when you see it, you will be inspired.”
“The words I choose to print in these collages are meant to be a good reminder about how powerful you are as a person,” she says.
“These pieces are mixed media, using collage, stencil, and acrylics. The collage material comes from old magazines,” Smith explains.
Smith’s art, like that of Hero, Vakseen, and Moncho1929 is all about seeing the world, and life, through new eyes. Come take a look.
Gabba Gallery is located at 3126 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.
- Genie Davis; All Photos by Jack Burke