Gallery 2: Before the Body
Walter Maciel Gallery is pleased to present a show of new paintings by Brooklyn based painter Dean Monogenis. The exhibition is the third solo show with the gallery and will include smaller paintings on wood panel and works on paper. Monogenis was recently featured in a successful booth project at Volta New York this past winter.
Within these intimate spaces, Monogenis continues his narratives of surreal landscapes that explore the natural progressions of entropy (the tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity). The subjects of his works focus on architecture and other forms made by human invention including modernist homes, innovative skyscrapers, sleek trams and fragmented scaffoldings. The focus however is not on the placement of each structure within the landscape but rather on the notion of each monument as a means to articulate transition and purpose. Monogenis re-positions both imagined buildings and real structures taken from photographs and memory into lushes landscapes that often lead to a vulnerable state of being. He challenges the visual, historical and resourceful components of traditional city planning while creating a visual space that seems uneasy and magical at the same time.
Tightly rendered in acrylic paints with a matte varnish, the paintings reveal a distinction between the bold flat areas used to create the architecture with the tightly rendered greenery of landscape. The pictorial field is often peacefully interrupted with color set up as a striping pattern or abstracted shapes blended into the landscape. For example, in the painting The Waiting Place a minimalist constructed building exists as the focal point set behind an outline of a white chain-linked fence. Set within a moody hillside, a figure appears to be in the building adding to the mystery of the space. Three distinct areas in a hot pink color blend into the surface of the rocks to complement the intense purple gridded ground seen around the building. All of the visual elements contained in the physical structure as well as the shapes and spaces created beside them are given fair representation with no particular emphasis of order in the image.
Monogenis began working with the subject of architecture after 9/11 when he realized that like human life buildings are vulnerable to destruction and disasters. He spent his childhood traveling to Greece to visit family and toured the ancient ruins that were once in tact in their original form thousands of years ago. A structure can be made to provide shelter, transport human behavior or support a built surface but it can also be destroyed by a fire, earthquake or terrorism. His works often includes futuristic corporate spaces and/or homes as an ideal utopia shown atop a hill or cliff’s edge showing off its splendor while disclosing its naivety. This is evident in the painting Emporio which depicts a jutting cliff with a lush landscape dripping off the underside. From a green patch extends a white scaffold column precariously holding it into place with a strapping vine hanging from its tussle. A contemporary glass and concrete home seamlessly blends into the rock formation of the cliff’s edge commanding both envy in its remarkable placement and fear that it could suddenly tumble below.
The show will also include a series of works on paper showing graphic hand painted corporate parks as if made in a computer aided design (CAD) program. The buildings exist in horizontal layers emulating the stacked floors with lightly paintings grid lines along the surfaces. Within the landscape of the architecture are strategically placed rectangular swimming pools adding to the cohesiveness of geometric shapes. Tightly rendered streamers placed in perfect rows cover one pool while others gracefully hang from the buildings towards precise edges or corners of other pools.
Monogenis attended Skidmore College and received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996. He is currently having his first European solo show entitled Dream or Memory or Builded Stone at Xippas Gallery in Athens. Last year Monogenis showed a series of small paintings in a solo show at Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York. He is currently included in the group exhibition Utopian/Distopian Landscapes in the lobby gallery at 101 California in San Francisco and recently exhibited in Deconstructing Nature at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, New Jersey. He has also been included in the group shows Future Tense at the Neuberger Museum, Skeptical Landscape at the Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts in Amherst and Beautiful Dreamer at Spaces Gallery in Cleveland. Monogenis was featured in New American Paintings, Issue Number 80 and a series of ten images was reproduced in the September 2009 edition of the Georgia Review. Earlier this year he completed an artist residency at CCA Andratx in Mallorca, Spain.