What’s pyrography? It’s wood burning, it’s art, it’s the sweet-smelling creation of artist Zach Aronson now on view for one week only on Melrose at the Stone Malone Gallery. Friday and Saturday night there’s live music, too, so go on down and be sure to inhale – the redwood creations are as fragrant as they are cool.
“Metamorphosis is the title of the show, and it really is just that for me. I’m really exploring in my work,” Aronson says.
“I like the idea that I’m changing the medium I’m working with. I’m turning wood to ash with fire – without adding any new elements,” he asserts.
“Fire is traditionally a destructive element, but I’m creating with it, not destroying,” he continues.
“Each work is drawn from life using an open flame. I do portraits on the spot. It’s relatively fast work,” he explains.
Sometimes, Aronson goes for a complete, rather than partial portrait image, but he says he prefers the partials for now, that their nature is more evocative.
Viewers will find Aronson’s work haunting. There is something profoundly moving about these artistic “scars” reshaping the wood, creating a very life like portrait in an unusual medium.
Aaronson’s work with wood originated from necessity. “One night I couldn’t find any paper to draw on, so I salvaged a scrap piece of lumber and decided to draw on it instead. The first time was with graphite, and soon afterwards charcoal. I came to the realization that charcoal is simply burnt wood, and tried using a flame as a drawing implement. Over time I became more skilled with this medium and came to prefer drawing with fire.”
His large-scale work is surprisingly intricate and revealing. With such detailed portraits shaped on wood panels, the wood takes on an aspect of skin. These could be the faces of giants, impressions realistically superimposed. The pyrographic technique provides a layer of softness in the work, and in the scarring of the wood to create the portraits, a three-dimensional aspect that draws the viewer. Aaronson describes his art as “Portraits focused around ideas of identity and anonymity, and how these concepts influence who we are, both as individuals and as a culture.” However they’re described, it’s not just the size of the pieces that make it hard to look away.
Stone Malone is located at 7619 1/2 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046, the show runs through Saturday night.
- Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke
Gobble this one up – Bleep devours American food, pop culture, and that quintessentially American vacation, the road trip. The result: a poignant, even childlike mash-up of images, words, and emotion.
“I watched and listented to cartoons and music, and just sporadically splat right on paper and canvas, there were the images. I used media paper, which is very strong, as my canvas,” Bleep says.
The show features recipes acquired through travels around America, among other tasty cultural icons. “There’s bourbon baked beans from Texas. the Trinity’s Italian fare from Chicago. I even met Priscilla Presley, who gave me Elvis’ banana peanut butter sandwich and bacon recipe. It includes butter and cinnamon,” Bleep relates.
But beyond food, “Eat” offers a perspective on American culture. “Gurus, junk, Homer Simpson, King of the Hill. It all characterizes my own experience, its fragments of our culture, heightened points. Like free jazz, I just run with it,” Bleep says.
Watch for more Bleep, collaborative and solo – soon.