Let's Combobulate: Elizabeth Medina, Ian Pines and Devon Tsuno
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combobulate /kəmˈbäbyəlāt/ (verb) To put together in a somewhat mysterious manner. To bring something out of a state of confusion or disarray. To manufacture by some unusual or novel means.
It is with great pleasure that JAUS presents the three-person exhibition "Let’s Combobulate" featuring works by Liz Medina, Ian Pines and Devon Tsuno. The three artists will be presenting medium to large scale abstract and semi-abstract paintings through imagery and ideas related to landscape.
“Combobulate” is not a real word. In fact, its antonym “discombobulate” is an American word that did not exist before the 19th century, and is thought to be a whimsical alteration of the words discomfort or discompose. However, upon googling “combobulate”, the first thing that appears is the definition cited above. (www.definition-of.com/Combobulate)
In relation to the word “landscape”, as with many contemporary painters, the artists in this show are not depicting space and the objects that occupy it from a monocular and linear perspective. Furthermore, they are expanding their definitions to socio-political landscapes, cultural landscapes and the artistic landscape of predecessors and contemporaries in the field of fine art and more specifically painting. Attempting to make sense out of these disparate influences may seem unrelated and even chaotic, but under thoughtful and measured processes, the three artists manage to combobulate images that convey a focused and compelling vision.
In the case of Medina, her current work can be seen as landscape verging on the threshold of pure abstraction where the relationship between foreground, middleground and background are collapsed, leaving only geometric lines, horizontal surfaces and hints of color and markings that might, or might not, suggest earth, foliage, atmosphere and/or sky. The mark-making she sees as having similarities to the photographic process, and an almost automatic document of a moment in time.
Pines sees his dense and expressionistic impasto paintings as a violent merger of “three elements that work at varying speeds on Earth,” or what he refers to as “the geologic” (very slow speed), “the primal” (medium human speed) and “the technological” (very fast speed). He churns and reuses the oil medium, and repeatedly excavates the surface in order to give the viewer a sense of how “unique, crazy, terrible, and wonderful our current situation is”.
Tsuno’s more recent production has focused on native vs. non-native vegetation and issues regarding water in Los Angeles and its surroundings. During his frequent adventures in the L.A. River, he noticed how the drainage had become a breeding ground for a myriad of native and non-native plants, and realized it was a perfect analogy for the various human communities that comprise Los Angeles. In addition, water-use in Los Angeles and issues related to sustainability in this city frequently affected by drought and misuse has been a recurrent theme in Tsuno’s work. He tackles these big issues through the process of integrating hard-edge abstraction, fetish finish painting, pattern and decoration, graffiti and traditional Japanese art in his acrylic and spray paint on paper and canvas works.
Although the works of Medina, Pines and Tsuno vary significantly in terms of concept, process, physicality and inspiration, the three artists share the characteristic of assembling, rearranging and prioritizing their multiple preoccupations into what might be considered abstract landscape. This group exhibition attempts to showcase and highlight the contrasting results yielded by these three young artists.
Elizabeth Medina was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Medina is a recent MFA graduate of Otis College of Art and Design where she also served as a Teaching Assistant in Painting, and served as Exhibition Design and Gallery Coordinator for Bolsky Gallery. In 2014, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at the University of California Los Angeles. Medina has exhibited her at Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, POST, Los Angeles and Torrance Art Museum. She lives and works in San Pedro.
Ian Pines (b. 1984 in Denver, CO) received his BA in art from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2007 and his MFA in painting from UCLA in 2010. He has exhibited his large-scale oil abstractions at numerous venues throughout Los Angeles and the Southwest including Coagula Curatorial, California State University at Long Beach, Oxnard College, the Manhattan Beach Art Center, Eastside International, Wilding Cran Gallery, Creative ABQ, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. He teaches art at UC Santa Cruz and Oxnard College and is also the head painting instructor at the Imagination Connection—a non-profit in Los Angeles that teaches art to at-risk youth, the elderly, and dementia patients.
Devon Tsuno is a Los Angeles-native. His abstract paintings, print installations, publications and socially engaged projects focus on the LA watershed, water use, and native vs. non-native vegetation. Tsuno is a 2017 Santa Fe Art Institute Water Rights Artist-In-Residence, is the 2016 SPArt Community Grantee and was awarded a 2014 California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Art. His long-term interest in bodies of water in the LA area has been central to his work with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Big City Forum, Theodore Payne Foundation, the grantLOVE Project, and Occidental College. Tsuno has exhibited extensively in the US and abroad at the Hammer Museum Venice Beach Biennial, Current: LA Water Public Art Biennial, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Carl Berg Gallery, U.S. Embassy in New Zealand, Edward Cella Gallery, and Roppongi 605 in Tokyo. His solo exhibition, Reclaimed Water was identified in Art LTD as a Critic’s Picks: 2014 Top 10 exhibitions in LA and his exhibition Watershed curated by Aandrea Stang was reviewed in Artillery Magazine and Notes on Looking. He received an MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2005 and a BFA from California State University Long Beach in 2003. Tsuno is currently an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at California State University, Dominguez Hills where he is the founder of PRAXIS a project funded by the California Arts Council and Pasadena Arts Alliance.
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