Works Gallery
Artist Information

Ben Quinn & Daniel Arthur Mendoza
Anchors and Portals

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 7th, 2018, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Exhibition Dates: April 7th – April 28th, 2018

Anchors and portals: a binary built on transitory purposes–one pole acting as a tether to our terrestrial limitations, the other promising an escape from our present confines.  The works of Oakland-based artists Daniel Arthur Mendoza and Ben Quinn operate along similar lines, with the flopping gravitas-stricken sculptures of Mendoza contrasting the concentric flowing lines of watercolor which beckon the viewer within Ben Quinn’s current suite of “portal” paintings.    

Daniel Mendoza’s sculptures are inherently resourceful, comprised of studio detritus, found fabrics and cement, yet the embedded emotional affect of the gestures struck belie their resourceful nature. They lean, hunch and drape about, tethered to the ground by cement bases that serve both as supports and foundations. The forms and materials often give Mendoza’s works a domestic feel, as if a couch cushion has just become animated and is found struggling under its own autonomy and weighted physicality.  Other organic forms by the artist wrestle with the confines of a cage mounted on the wall, or are bound by a cable and lay submissively at the feet of the viewer, with titles such as “Bound Form (Damn… I Really Tried)” or “Hunched Form (Damn… Played Myself…)” reinforcing the hapless sentiment carried by these odd sculptural forms.

While Mendoza’s forms through proxy hint at the limitations of the human body, Ben Quinn’s colorful paintings aim at just the opposite.  Anyone who has followed Quinn’s development as an artist has witnessed a deep interest in the supernatural, in conspiracy theories and dark areas of knowledge.  Instead of explicating these interests through imagery, Quinn has taken to constructing his latest series of paintings through radiating lines of saturation, creating meditative color fields that whisk the viewer in and transport one’s mind to a different plane. The artist’s application of thin layers of watercolor create a luminous quality in the work as drips from previous layers intermingle–earthy and muted chakras which emanate from the interior of the canvas.  Quinn’s portals hint at evolution, at growth and spiritual betterment, and the calming effect of these works cannot be overstated as we find ourselves entranced before them, tracing successive rings of color in an exercise of self-removal.

***

Bruna Massadas
The Face Painter

A particular transformation occurs when two circles, a triangle, and a curved line are positioned in a certain way. Suddenly, a sense of personhood is found: an individual with distinctive physical features, facial expression and a unique personal history is realized from the background of the painting. When does a line transcend form and become a mouth? When does a mouth become a smile or a pout? How are we able to glean so much from so little?

The painting practice of Brazilian born and Bay Area-based artist Bruna Massadas is concerned with these very questions. The artist crafts endearingly awkward portraits of women candidly portrayed in a variety of emotional and psychological states, or engrossed within a telephone call’s gritty details. The Face Painter as an exhibition title is both an honest description of the artist’s practice, as well as an allusion to her first job as a face painter at T.G.I. Friday’s, and the interesting form of intimate connection this provided with restaurant patrons. Face painting for Massadas presented a form through which the artist and subject were able to transcend their own vulnerabilities and communicate on a deeper level–an effect that is not dissimilar to the connection that occurs while looking at the artist’s work.  Massadas’ paintings are as much portraits of people as they are of interior worlds, which unfold generously before the viewer and present the opportunity for empathy. The ample emotional content described in these paintings is paired with a materially intensive approach to painting and drawing, oftentimes with entire works composed via the deeply saturated scumbles of oil pastels, or an intense gradient of acrylic paint broken up by simple outlines and shadows comprising the face and forms of a subject. A visit to the artist’s studio reveals a growing cast of characters gracing the walls of the artist’s studio, each figure peering from their frame yet still consumed by their interior world–all in effect helping to make painting not such a lonely act.   

***

Isaac Vazquez Avila

Pata de Perro (Foot of a Dog)

Flowing strands of hair yielded in tense graphite scrawls perch carefully, ending abruptly in various steps as they pass the figure’s chin, forming an inverse of an Aztec stepped pyramid.  Just below this sculptural hairline is the outline of the Golden Gate bridge, scratched into the figure’s skin tone, suggesting the merging of ancient and modern monuments–a sensibility that weaves itself through the playfully rough work of San Francisco-based artist Isaac Vazquez Avila. The artist’s latest body of work which combines both figurative and abstract works realized in oil paint, pastel and graphite on canvas, embody a “rasquache” sensibility—what Chicano scholar Tomás Ybarra-Frausto describes as “the perspective of the underdog”. The faces of Avila’s figures are mask-like, comprised of angular features and sunken eyes, with subtle messages such as “Todo Bien” and “2018 Feb” inscribed within their flesh, eyes and mouths. With vitality they reapproach and dance about the fraught histories of modernist abstraction and their relation to the appropriation of indigenous forms of making, continuing the artist’s examination of tensions between dominant and nondominant cultures in an exploration of the in-between.