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Amanda Sanfilippo

foreground: J. Patrick Walsh 3, "Hot Pot Charmer," 2012. background: "Face Plate 1-8 minus 7," series, 2012. Photo courtesy of Michael Jon Gallery.

Feelings is the fourth exhibition at the Michael Jon Gallery, a small space in the Design District run by recent Chicago transplant Michael Radziewicz. Consisting of three emerging LA artists, the exhibition shares variations of conceptual and aesthetic ties rooted in the appropriation techniques of the Pictures Generation among others, and an interest in materiality. With these mechanics in mind, the works (all 2012) are not what they seem, and do not take the trouble to explain their tricks. Rather, they use a self-aware address of concealment and emergence to manipulate perception, each hinging on something potentially repressed. Concealment occurs most simply in “Warm for Your Form,” where Bobbi Woods has sprayed chrome enamel over contemporary movie posters, revealing only the ghostly embossed relief of the original text and graphic on the cheap paper. The luster of the monochrome surface is interrupted by areas of labored fingerprints, marks which imply disregard for a tidy job in favor of revealing the gesture of a detournement in its process of being made.

Bobbi Woods, “Warm For Your Form,” 2012. Enamel on poster. Photo courtesy of Michael Jon Gallery.

In contrast, the contribution by Sayre Gomez insists on the visual, if not material presence of a sourced original. For his piece “Uww 41,” a rectangle of plum colored paint applied directly onto the wall serves as a wide border for a four-panel image on paper. Therein a cat, slanty-eyed with pleasure, is gathered up in a woman’s arms. The luxuriant embrace reveals itself to be a photographic inkjet print overlaid by gauzy paint strokes, and bisected text betrays the image’s source as a dated Movado watch advertisement.

The image, culled from a post on Facebook (Gomez often uses other online platforms, such as Tumblr), calls attention to the flattening of the artist’s studio to the surface of a computer screen. In this light, Gomez’s piece could be understood as part of a distinct visual language sourced exclusively from the Internet and digital media, termed the New Aesthetic by London-based writer James Brindle.

Like Gomez’s work, which highlights a “re-materialization” of the art object from the digital realm, the offerings of J. Patrick Walsh 3, in particular “Hot Pot Charmer,” are a literal emergence. Like a cobra from a basket, a tangle of chains and ropes encased in gray-blue wax and hooked to the ceiling extend up from a metal pot. The pot sits upon a hot plate filled with a surplus of the opaque material. At the end of the exhibition (as at the beginning), the plate is turned on, the wax (mostly from melted candles, including wicks) heated, and the metal collapsed to lie latent beneath a mute surface. The work is designed for compact mobility and a no-fuss potential to re-do, thwarting any chance of an original.

In this space of post-appropriation and layered decontextualization, the works are sensitive to the tension between authentic and generic gestures, yet do not make a case for either. Their ambivalence stems from a casual forfeit of reality in the wake of aesthetic and cultural simulacra made mundane.