Just when you thought the art reporting on this blog couldn’t get any more exciting, Jeff Soto, one of our very favorite American contemporary artists, returns to Jonathan LeVine Gallery for his fourth solo exhibition! Having been deeply affected by the recent passing of two of his grandparents, Soto’s new series of works Decay and Overgrowth is his memento mori of sorts. For Decay and Overgrowth, Jeff maintains many of his signature motifs while incorporating a distinctive fecundity in the broad use of new colors, such as mossy green, and images of plants and vines that entwine through skulls in a series of paintings that seem to personify the members of Soto’s family.
Expanding upon the themes explored previously in Lifecycle, Soto’s solo 2010 exhibition, works in Decay and Overgrowth deal with the passage of time, early man and life after death, as well as primitive myths and legends attempting to explain the unknown. A connective thread of mortality runs throughout the work, conveying themes such as the transient nature of life, brevity of the average lifetime and inevitability of death.
Soto selected symbols of hope and growth to symbolize the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Organic shapes and elements such as mountains, plants, flowers, rocks and crystals are juxtaposed with manmade objects such as cell phone towers, weapons, polished gems and modern architecture. The resulting imagery combines a bit of magic, unanswered questions and a glimpse into the unknown.
I found this exhibit to be deeply moving and also life affirming. Jeff Soto was at the opening reception on Saturday and he was just the nicest person you could meet, signing a card for me and also posing with his art for this post. Thanks Jeff for your beautiful art and also for being so cool.
Jeff Soto’s Decay & Overgrowth will be on exhibit through October 6, 2012 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th floor New York City. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.