Jan Gatewood: Tiptoe Hassle
Tiptoe Hassle // Jan Gatewood
2.18 – 4.2
Instability appreciation constructed atop a foundation of failure. Life is all we have., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, & fabric dye, on paper, 44 x 60 in, 2021
Adopt this for freedom from the desire to be understood in totality., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, fabric dye & salt on paper, 44 x 60 in, 2021
Image of machines, made with machines, contributing to a show of machines. Intrigued by how I might be seen or heard here., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, fabric dye, debris, & bleach on paper, 44 x 60 in, 2021
Delusional enough to declare this as collective concept fabrication. Magic trick on my terms., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, & fabric dye on paper, 44 x 60 in, 2021
Celebration of the arbitrary., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, & fabric dye, on paper, 44x 60 in, 2021
Fragmentation exposed, unity through difference (Oscarcopter)., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, & fabric dye, on paper 44 x 60 in, 2021
Agenda Activation… On the nose so to say (repetition), Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, & fabric dye on paper 44 x 60 in, 2021
Notes to self / Wisdom can be eaten, Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, fabric dye, & bleach on paper, 44 x 60 in, 2021
A friend told me “you don’t have to say everything in a show” Obviously, but is an exhibition one of the rare moments where you’re at least granted the attempt? Narcissism?, Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, fabric dye, & bleach on paper, 44 x 60 in, 2021
Partial Object / Gratitude for process development, the image is a placeholder., Graphite, oil pastel, oil stick, & fabric dye, on paper 44 x 60 in, 2021
SMART OBJECTS is pleased to present Tiptoe Hassle, a solo exhibition of new works by Los Angeles-based artist Jan Gatewood.
Culled from an idiosyncratic artistic alphabet, animals, vehicles, and fruits are rendered in soft-focused finger-smudged oil drawings floating in acidic color-washed environments. In a reconfiguration of the status of ‘works on paper’ as preparatory, surface-level sketches, Gatewood utilizes the paper’s absorbency to fuze mediums with pools and splashes of fabric-dye alchemized with bleach, salt, or lemon juice to mutate or diffuse colors and patterns within the stained paper. Self-referential formal decisions deliberately scramble the registers of mediums and techniques to arrive at a singular sensibility that speaks through the familiar codes of drawing and painting to parody them.
While anthropomorphized, Gatewood’s subjects resist symbolic weight in favor of functioning as vessels through which to speak. Without tethering referents frogs, dogs, lemons, helicopters, strawberries, fish, and cars — nonhuman representations of flows of life — create the parameters of a language from which to sample and remix in an unmediated game of illustrating the process of expression itself. The resulting excess is a fever dream of absurdities that are multiple, interconnected, and self-replicating.
In this malleable hallucinatory space flora, fauna, and modes of transit are introduced and then left to grapple with human concepts such as numbers, drawing, and failure. In other cases the lifeforms are only partial, or conjoined — a bisected dog adorned with strawberry stitches or a helicopter fish inhabiting a lemon for a body — assemblages of parts search to resolve the organism. Likewise, the production process is a continual conjunction of fragmentary objects that promise libidinal flow in their ability to reconfigure new and different iterations, otherwise gridlocked as a constituted whole.
Offering hints to unlock the work's internal logic are enlarged manifestos paired with a self-portrait throughout the exhibition as a primary text and conceptual map. Moreover, Gatewood’s titles read as bullet points to this manifesto; reflective provocations on the possibility harnessed to create them. Concerned with the project of activating potential by way of conjunction and elliptical repetition, sense and nonsense play out and are recorded on the works’ surface. By prioritizing continual transformation, change, movement, and flux, Tiptoe Hassle relinquishes a fixed symbolic order in favor of multiple becomings that affirm the positivity of difference.