Kaytlin Esparza

A Visual Reference to Internal Dialogue

Stepping into Jonathan Faber’s Material exhibition at Big Medium may seem at once both distancing and alluring. Like a dream you can’t remember the ending of. A photo you’ve taken that blurred unintentionally. Remembering a name but not the face it belongs to, all of these lapses in his work may be intentional. Each canvas and drawing offers a duality of shallow or flat colors amongst deeper variants. The works on display in Big Medium are a combination of acrylic/oil paintings and drawings, sometimes involving mixed media. Because oil paints take longer to dry, he has more time to experiment and move the paint around, once finished there is a visible difference in depth that can be attributed to the combination of paints and not only color variance

The reductive relationship between his drawings and paintings act as a soundboard to each other. He describes this relationship between his art as cyclical; while creating, one relies on the other, drawing to painting and painting to drawing. He depends on this relationship to decide what to add and subtract, when to stop or continue. The size of each canvas varies between expansive and intimate, eliciting an active viewer that may choose to interact with a work up close or from afar, in a successive line or by walking across the room in any order they so choose. This variance in size also creates a feeling that the works are living, breathings entities. While viewing a smaller 8.6”x10” drawing, one can embrace the intimacy it offers, but if the viewer sees it placed next to a larger 40”x36” painting, it becomes playful, almost feeling as though the smaller works want to become something much bigger than themselves.

Memory, past experience, domestic settings and objects seem to be Faber’s primary focus. By merging them together, he draws from the past and present to explore how slippery the human mind can be- through the viewer’s own interpretations of saturated fields or stained canvas. On top of these stains he paints or tapes shapes that may seem familiar, triangles that overlap to create amorphous figures, white lines on a green field that may or may not resemble a soccer field. Creating in this slip allows for multiple facets in processing, his work is spatial but internal, both familiar to us and personal to himself. The shapes themselves contain multiple references, during our visit, he pointed to a star shape in one of his large-scale pieces, saying, “…This could be a star or an asterisk, but may also be a butthole.”

The choices made in displaying the exhibition offered a fair judgment of the works side by side, moving between them feels easy and casual. The discussion Jonathan Faber gave did not contradict the openness of the exhibition; he offers his own intimacies on canvas through abstract reference and subjecthood; it is the viewer’s experience that determines whether or not these visuals are expansive through meaning and collective memory, or just paint on a canvas. (501)

-Kaytlin Esparza