Load Signs marks Tony Larson’s first major solo exhibition in Los Angeles. A recent MFA graduate of Claremont University and recipient of the 2017 Karl and Beverly Benjamin Fellowship in Art, the exhibition presents a group of new paintings that explore Larson’s interest in the dialogue between new and traditional modes of communication and observation; between the analog and the digital. Employing the activity of painting, Larson investigates the slippery language and invasive cultural codes found in now ubiquitous media streams.
Larson begins each work on his computer by sifting through the seemingly banal or commonly overlooked bits of digital detritus that litter our media landscape. He zooms in on his chosen “subjects” and, using software, reforms and mashes them together into new, three-dimensional paintings. The paintings feel like layered amalgamations of overlapping browsers, SMPTE color bars, and jammed telecommunication screens. Larson’s source material is blended, neutralized, worked and reworked until it loses its communicative potency. As he has stated: “By employing historically loaded mediums, such as sculpture and painting, I neutralize the unwanted messaging or imagery inherent in new media platforms, allowing me to establish the terms upon which I choose to interact with every channel of information.”
A native of Southern California, Larson’s aesthetic vision has been heavily influenced by his surroundings and his background as a graphic artist. He cites early exposure to subdivided tracts of land, concrete house foundations, terraced dirt plots, troweled stucco surfaces, and asymmetrical grids of plywood, as being important touchstones of his visual education. These reference points of empty, undeveloped spaces show up in his work as a fusion of information and potential. Ultimately, Larson believes that the space of art is uniquely capable of expressing the divided and contradictory nature of contemporary communication.