Kiana Long

Distorted Relic, Remixed by Tape

Big Medium Gallery, Jonathan Faber’s exhibition Material

       Jonathan Faber’s solo exhibition, Material at Austin’s Big Medium Gallery presents an array of vibrantly colored, large scale oil/acrylic paintings accompanied by smaller chalk pastel drawings. All the works convey a sense of playfulness through a repetition of geometric shapes, vivid shades of blues, pinks and oranges. However, they also create a sense of sentiment that is in contrast with the artwork itself. One work in particular that stuck out was his painting Relic Remix, 2015.

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As I moved through each work, I gravitated toward a totemic arrangement of triangles against a vibrant aqua blue background. This totemic arrangement of triangles serves as a motif throughout Faber’s work. The way this totemic-like subject was placed onto the turquoise background both reminds me of a still-life and gives the illusion that it was pasted onto the background because of his use of shadow and spatial play. Relic Remix contains these sort of visual illusions; playing with the perception of space and depth. The use of shadow and spatial play, caused by the gradient gray patches lying alongside the bold white lines of triangles formed by the removal of tape. The removal of the tape is not clean and precise which is essential to maintaining playfulness. For instance some do not enclose all the way, varying from little slivers of space to one side completely missing but causing me to still see it as a triangle enclosing it myself, forgetting about the opening.

Although the painting is abstract, the name Relic Remix helped me to be able to interpret the painting differently, possibly the way Faber intended. The name itself is symbolic, specifically the word “Relic”, which in both religious and everyday context refers to an object of sentimental and historical interest, in this case pertaining personally to Faber. With the word “Remix”, Faber may have wanted to alter the viewer’s idea of what a relic is or more so, what it can be. Since Faber draws from his own past experiences and domestic settings of places he once lived that, Relic Remix, may symbolize something that he views personally as a “Relic”.

Overall, Jonathan Faber’s work Relic Remix allowed the artist’s hand to be evident as well as the materials utilized. It shows that the materials used to build the work are equally important as the finished work. Faber did not want it to merely just be a part of the construction but, later play the role of an active participant in the painting to help both bring in the viewer and distance them simultaneously. The tape and its removal serve as vocabulary for the piece contributing to this sense of an internal dialogue. Faber’s overall approach to painting is reminiscent to Georges Braque’s analytic cubist works and William de Kooning’s use of color playful works thus merging structural and gestural. Although Faber draws from memories of past domestic settings and everyday objects they are heavily abstracted, causing me to refer back to my own memories of both places and objects, perhaps that is the goal.

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