Javier Peláez: Broken Tree review by David S. Rubin

Continuing through September 7, 2019

Motivated in part by the death of his father, new paintings by Mexico City-based Javier Peláez are potent reminders that there is some truth to the ideas that every cloud has its silver lining and that happiness follows despair. Entitled “Broken Tree,” the exhibition is comprised of expertly crafted abstract and semi-abstract oil paintings on canvas, paper and metal which are dominated by ultraluminous pastel colors that, in spite of the work’s sober subject matter, convey an overall tone of hope and optimism.

Peláez’s formal vocabulary is often linked to vaporwave aesthetics, a sensibility that emerged in the late 20th century and is characterized by abstract fields of psychedelic colors common to consumer and internet media. In most of the new paintings, Peláez’s images appear superimposed over or immersed within amorphous fields of fluorescent sherbet-like color clusters akin to what is ubiquitously found on a computer screen. Another feature of vaporwave aesthetics, which is particularly popular in Japanese anime and advertising, is the use of stick-like calligraphy. Peláez’s connection to this format is most evident in his “Split Triptych,” a left-to-right tripartite work on paper where a vertical white line floating in open colored space moves panel to panel from being upright to broken to being separated into two units.

In the “Broken Tree” series, splintered and bent tree limbs symbolizing the demise of the artist’s father cohabit with transparent intersecting geometric planes that allude to his father’s profession as an architect and Peláez’s own background as an architecture student. In the more maximal works, a multitude of intersecting triangles immersed in fields of brightly colored light yields an ebullient prismatic effect. One of the most striking examples is the relatively minimal “Broken Tree #6,” where the composition is reduced to a foreground, middle ground and background. A splintered tree trunk depicts every detail with a careful meticulousness that conveys the artist’s reverence for the beauty and fragility of all living things. Behind it is a simply defined architectural space. In the background are the distant, colorful metaphysical spaces that we presumably encounter when the soul leaves the body. Using a contemporary visual language, Peláez effectively resurrects ideas espoused in the historically celebrated paintings of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, whose works were representational but similarly symbolized life’s journey with stoic acceptance of its inevitable cycles.

Javier Peláez, Broken Tree #3, #6, & 5,  2019 oil on linen 62.9” x 47.5” x 1.37”

Javier Peláez, Broken Tree #3, #6, & 5, 2019 oil on linen 62.9” x 47.5” x 1.37”

Ed Moses - Examining the last 5 years of an iconic artist’s life

Through the Looking Glass presents an overview of this last period, with a selection of work Moses produced over the last five years of his life. The work is ambitious and adventurous, and is marked by the artist’s spontaneity and expansive visual vocabulary.

The exhibition reveals an artist fully engaged, working in the moment, embracing a career’s worth of stylistic approaches, while incorporating new ones, as Moses boldly entered the labyrinths of the creative process. The works are dramatic in scope and exemplify the breadth of his reach.

The title of the exhibition is from Lewis Carroll, one of Moses’s favorite writers, and refers to one of the artist’s fundamental beliefs - that art, at its best, is a portal to the unknown, through which one is transported to magical realms.

Moses did not paint to express; he painted to discover. Restless curiosity was his driving force - chance and circumstance his guiding principles. Often Moses would see the ghost images that appeared on the backs of his paintings as the very point and pith of the effort - subconscious postern doors opening to new dimensions through a willingness to embrace the unexpected.

It has been a year since Ed Moses has passed to the other side of the looking glass. We are honored to present these late works, by this incredibly gifted, committed, and important painter.

Moses obsessively mined the possibilities of abstract painting for over 60 years, leaving an indelible mark on the contemporary art world. He was extraordinarily productive, and as he entered his 90s, he showed little signs of slowing down, painting daily, as he had done for decades, outdoors at his Venice studio, and attending numerous exhibitions of his work at various venues throughout the city.

Moses received national and international recognition for his singular, categorically evasive practice. Known for his restless intensity and ever-evolving style, Moses was considered one of LA’s most innovative painters, and a central figure in the city’s art scene since first gracing the walls of its legendary Ferus Gallery in 1958. Moses often referred to himself as a “mutator," driven less by the desire for self-expression than by a voracious appetite for experimentation and discovery. Describing his approach, Moses said, “The rational mind constantly wants to be in charge. The other parts want to fly. My painting is the encounter between the mind’s necessity for control and its yearning to fly, to be free from our ever- confining skull.”

A 200-page, fully illustrated artist monograph is forthcoming in 2019, and will include critical essays about the artist’s life and work by Richard Davey, Ph.D., author, and Chaplain at Nottingham Trent University, UK; and Thomas Krens, former Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York City, and current Senior Advisor for International Affairs. 

In the studio with Casper Brindle

We caught up with Casper Brindle recently settling into the groove of his new studio on Venice Blvd in Culver City.

A fresh group of reductive abstract paintings glowed quietly as they lay on tables in various stages of completion. The transition of colors in any one painting was generally subtle, but nonetheless, dramatic.  

Several were hung on the studio walls where one could get a sense of how the color shifted noticeably when one moved from side to side. 

This effect is heightened by Brindle’s use of high-end auto body paints, saturated with slightly reflective granular flecks. The subsequent resin coating imbues the colors with richness and depth.

Casper Brindle’s work derives, in its own unique way, from a long lineage of LA artists -Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, and Eric Orr to name a few - captivated by the effects of light and space and what they reveal to us about how we perceive. 

These sea/sky/horizon line compositions evoke a sense of profound wonder about the ever changing ways we perceive light through atmospheric space.  

Several from this new series will be featured in our upcoming group exhibition, “Deep Water”, opening May 18th.

Jimi Gleason: Alchemy - From Silver Bullion to Works of Art


A native of Newport Beach, Jimi Gleason attended Orange Coast College for its strong rowing team, later transferring to UC Berkeley. In his senior year, he discovered ceramics and printmaking, taking Zen-like satisfaction in pulling ink across surfaces. He graduated with a BA in Fine Art in 1985.  After a brief stint at the San Francisco Art Institute, Jimi moved to New York City, where he lived the life of an experimental painter while working as a photo assistant and photo technician.  Upon returning to California, he worked as a studio assistant for renowned abstractionist, Ed Moses.

Jimi Gleason has spent his career exploring the reflective possibilities of a painterly surface. “By using iridescent and silver nitrate surface coats, I have managed to create visual spaces that respond to both the play of light and the location of the viewer,” he says. Mixing nontraditional materials such as silver deposit with acrylic paints, Gleason’s surfaces are highly reactive to light and shifts in the viewer’s position. Rather than focusing on the surface as an end in itself, his paintings track the play of light and the movement of the viewer, thereby acting as a mirror onto the external world. Through this interaction, Gleason hopes to induce a meditative experience for his viewers.

The silver nitrate paintings begin with a solid bar of silver, that is dissolved in concentrated nitric acid.   Once the nitric acid has evaporated Jimi is left with silver nitrate (a solid).  This element is then mixed with sodium hydroxide to create silver oxide which is dissolved in ammonium to create a compound that can be applied to the surface of the canvas.   This complicated and pricey technique produces paintings that are unique in both process and beauty.