written by David Rohn
Cuban American artist Jorge Pantoja exhibit at Farside Gallery curated by Ricardo Pau-Llosas represents an expansion on his earlier themes of imagery taken from Hollywood movies and a progression into new imagery and visual references. Once again, related to mass media, consumerism, and presented in a small personal format style that paradoxically individualize this imagery. Jorge’s last show at Carol Jazzar Contemporary a few years ago included a series of mostly smaller works (also on paper) derived from iconic commercial American movies.
In this series mostly drawn directly from movie frames but rendered in a loose style with watercolor and gouache suggests we consider these movie events as personal dramatic experiences. As if these stories and situations connect not just to the grand tradition of Opera, Greek Theater, nor their mass media power, but rather in the way we are fundamentally individually influenced by them. The more recent work at Farside now tends to be slightly larger in format. The treatment of the images on paper use spatter and tinting from day to day consumption materials like tea, juice, etc… These works feature more unlikely and even more iconic mass-cultural imagery like superheroes, corporate logo’s, the pop-deity American figure Santa Clause, presented like children’s toys. There’s also a lingering irony to these child-like images of “everyday” American life, matter-of-factly presented aged and shop-worn. The spatter, the darker more shadowy palette gives these works on paper a careless aspect, perhaps a tiredness.
The imagery of super heroes (like super powers) of identity-shaping automobiles like BMW’s (and their obligatory logo’s) of former saints (like Santa Claus) re-packaged as catalysts for consumerist cash and prizes represents a rather quaint set of references for a children’s tale of mythic grandeur and adventure.
Times change, so do ideas, so do myths that inspire/ expire. What makes these works on paper worth seeing is not that they deliver this message: Jeff Koons has focused on that very humorously and successfully, but rather that they convey an intimacy. Perhaps, a dose of schmaltziness that suggests that personal relations connections of one to another survive the exhaustion of ideas and of civilizations and that it’s these aspects of experience that quietly triumph when grandeur and conquest fade away.
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