“Back Room Artists” Steal the Show at Joanne Artman

Artsy Editorial
Jun 5, 2014 11:57PM

Slick surfaces and swirling, curvilinear forms are the order of the day at Laguna Beach’s Joanne Artman Gallery, invoking the intense light, saturated colors, and rolling waves of the California beaches just a few steps away from the gallery’s location. In the “The Back Room Spring Celebration!” the gallery invites visitors to cast their eyes over a vibrant collection of their so-called “back room artists,” a cohort whose seductive images demand front-row viewing.

With their abstract, layered compositions of Skittle-colored acrylic forms, coated in resin—which appear to float and swirl within the depths of each work—Alberto Murillo’s paintings pop from the wall. It’s easy to imagine sinking a hand into Murillo’s viscous, curvilinear shapes. No less absorbing, Anja Van Herle’s confrontational acrylic paintings of doll-like female faces with plump, glossy lips and blinged-out shades that evoke all the glamor and allure of Southern California. 

The very epitome of Hollywood glam (of a more vintage variety) Marilyn Monroe appears with blonde coif and puckered pout in the work of Robert Mars, whose objects of fascination are the darlings of America’s Golden Age. Borrowing a technique of Robert Rauschenberg, Mars transfers his found images onto hand-crafted wooden panels, upon which he renders patterns including flags, bull’s eyes, and other signs of Americana. Meanwhile, the duo behind Stallman—partners in life and art, Stephen Stum and Jason Hallman—pioneer their own technique, cutting painted canvases into strips and arranging them into sculptural, labyrinthine structures that evoke curving topographies.

Along with other artists on view in Joanne Artman’s back room, Murillo, Van Herle, Mars, and Stallman pack a visual punch, joining to form a presentation that is bombastic and enticing in equal measure.  

The Back Room Spring Celebration!” is on view at Joanne Artman Gallery, May 15–June 30, 2014.

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Artsy Editorial