Jaybo Monk Paints the Surreal Spaces of His Dreams

In his third solo exhibition at Soze Gallery in Los Angeles, Jaybo Monk mixes abstract, painterly forms with naturalistic depictions of human anatomy, architecture, and landscapes, creating manic images that evoke memories and dreams. Titled “NOWHERE IS NOW HERE,” this show of paintings and assemblages highlights Monk’s singular, contemporary brand of surrealism

Born in France and now living in Berlin, Monk, a painter and sculptor, employs hypnotic imagery that often comes directly from his own dreams. “I always have drawn my ideas on paper before I even put them in words,” Monk has said. “Each morning I wake up out of a dream, I try to remember it in a visual form.” Like the surrealists, his dream-inspired practice results in irrational and at times psychedelic works, in his words, “puzzle[s] of bodies, forms, and content.”

Ideas of place, space, and multi-layered narratives are important for Monk. In The Doghouse (2015), for example, a series of black rectangles and a plane of white implies the side of a house, cast with the shadows of trees. In the foreground, a pool of yellow, tan, and peach-colored water gives way to a jumbled collage of body parts, and what might be the blurred form of a black dog, running. Works like “Quicksand” (2015) and DEAD FLAG SIDEWALK (2014) suggest particular locations and situations, but without fully picturing them in a naturalistic way. In the latter painting, wavy, noodle-like lines of blue and red stream outward, bodies and landscapes comingle, and a black-and-white form at the lower left mutates into a twisted arc resembling a reflective metal pipe. Transitions between discrete elements of these paintings can be abrupt as in DEAD FLAG SIDEWALK, or smooth, as in “Augmented Nonsense” and Preposition (both 2015).

Several wall-mounted sculptures in the show echo the mash-ups of figures and objects found in Monk’s paintings, such as the collaged doll parts in “La Petite Botero” (2015), which alludes also to the rotund figures by the Colombian painter Fernando Botero. Two chairs printed with reproductions of his paintings, each in an edition of eight, are also on view. “Day Blind” (2015) contains his painting DAY BLIND (2014), and “Sidewalk” (2015) is printed with the aforementioned DEAD FLAG SIDEWALK. These objects cheekily mimic the body parts that will rest upon them.

—Stephen Dillon


NOWHERE IS NOW HERE” is on view at Soze Gallery, Los Angeles, May 15 – June 15, 2015.


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