Much has been said about the power of art: that it deeply moves us, communicates non-didactically, perhaps changes lives. In the current moment, it would seem that humanity needs art and artists as never before; we are facing potential environmental and civic crises while heads of state mouth platitudes yet offer little in terms of positive action. Power, when closely held, corrupts, as has been seen so consistently as to be a cliché, were it not also toxic tragedy. Each artist in this exhibition makes work that embodies and confronts tremendous power--as well as its potential and abuse.
—Curator Nancy Buchanan
Chilean artist Francisco Letelier creates art that crosses disciplines and cultures. His work blends history with contemporary experiences often with an emphasis on the social circumstances that affect individuals and communities. Letelier has been involved in projects throughout the Americas and Europe and is known for his powerful lectures, spoken word and writing. His inter-disciplinary collaborations integrate a variety of media; the artist often facilitates collective and participatory projects.
Based in Venice, California, the artist has created many murals throughout Los Angeles. Letelier's soaring, The Sun and The Moon tile murals, adorn the Westlake/Macarthur Park Metro Station in Los Angeles. Letelier received the 2009 LA Artcore award for contrabutions to Southern California culture. In 2012, SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center) awarded him the Siquieros Muralist Award.
In his latest series, he uses fragments of imagery on painted bark and handmade paper, embellished with thread and beads. The intimate scale of these works require one to view them at an extremely close perspective—they enter our "personal space." Though the narratives are filled with struggle and violence, creation and hope persist: we see sun, moon, animals, the first human beings appear. In addition to these pieces, Letelier will exhibit a large copper plate engraved with one of his poems.
Chusien Chang was born and raised in Brazil, moving to the US for college; she received her MFA from UCLA. Her permanent public art can be seen at the Metro Gold Line at Chinatown Station and also at the Long Beach Blvd. and PCH and Long Beach Blvd. and Willow Ave. She has also been commissioned for a public art in Shanghai, China and has created two temporary, site-specific installations at the L.A. River. She has exhibited her work in New York, Pennsylvania, Norway and throughout the greater Los Angeles area including at the Geffen Contemporary as part of Freewaves Festival.
Her work often distills content to its iconic forms, as seen in the Chinatown MTA station that she designed for the Gold Line. While the image of Ganesh, the elephant god will be familiar to many, how does such a divine image reconcile with the hooks, chains, and ropes used to inflict pain on captive animals? In Chang's pastel drawings, we read fragments of elephantine shapes as well as imagery of the torturous tools employed to "train" these hyper-intelligent creatures.
Karl Jean-Guerly Petion uses symbols from Haiti, his country of birth, as well as imagery suggesting the extremes of wealth and poverty which exist there. He holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, and an MFA from CalArts. In 2011, he participated in “Debating Through the Arts” at the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, and his work was recently exhibited at Lambert Fine Arts in New York.
Often quoting theoretical texts drawn from Freud, Lacan, Deleuze and others, he refuses any simplistic reading of Voudoun symbology: Marcel Duchamp is stepping on Jean-Michel Basquiat! Petion's depiction of power plays directly invokes the contemporary art scene itself in assemblage and mixed-media sculpture and painting. These pieces issue demands for a new reading of gods and commoners, hope and despair.
March 9 through April 7, 2013
Coffee generously provided by Cafe de Leche
Avenue 50 Studio, Inc.
a 501(c)(3) non-profit art gallery
131 North Avenue 50
Los Angeles, Ca 90042
Avenue 50 Studio is supported in part by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the California Community Foundation; the Department of Cultural Affairs; and The James Irvine Foundation