Tag Archives: memento mori

Jeff Soto’s Decay And Overgrowth at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Memorial of the Forgotten By Jeff Soto
Memorial of the Forgotten By Jeff Soto

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.

Cora By Jeff Soto
Cora

Joe By Jeff Soto
Joe

Kathryn By Jeff Soto
Kathryn

Man By Jeff Soto
Man

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.

Monster By Jeff Soto
Monster

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.

Jeff Soto Poses with his Work
Jeff Soto at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

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.

The Bike Ride
The Bike Ride

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.

Jeff Soto Reception Crowd at Jonathan Levine
Fans Enjoy Jeff Soto’s Art at Saturday’s Opening Reception

Joshua Liner Presents Tat Ito’s Memento Mori


“Lotus Flower and Goldfish” (2011) By Tat Ito (All Photos By Gail)

At a time when the hearts and minds of so many are concerned with the welfare of the people of Japan, it’s extremely compelling to see an exhibit by a Japanese artist who is clearly dealing with the quest to integrate both eastern and western artistic motifs into his work. Tat Ito’s Memento Mori (Latin for an object, such as a skull, intended to remind people of the inevitability of death) is anything but morbid, but the artist uses whimsical characters and a palette of bright colors along with distinctive characteristics of traditional Japanese artwork to comment on his native culture’s surrender to a relentless onslaught of Western pop sensibilities (see also Takashi Muyrakami’s theory of the Superflat ). As with Nir Hod’s Genius exhibit, Memento Mori is about so much more than just what appears on the canvas.

“Lobster and Shark”

As a Japanese-born artist who studied art in the United States, the exhibit’s press release confirms that “the artist and his paintings are a dynamic confluence of East and West, traditional and contemporary. The poetic analogy of “oil on water” describes Ito’s approach to both imagery and cultural references; in his vibrantly colored work, traditional Japanese aesthetics are a foundation upon which floats a contemporary (i.e., Western-influenced) viewpoint. Like a skim of oil on water, the beautiful, reflective surfaces of his paintings fascinate viewers. These top layers never mix but, rather, are presented in dialogue with the substance beneath.”

“Cosmos, Chrysanthemum and Dalmatian” (Section, Click Image to Enlarge)

Memento Mori includes works on both round (tondo) and rectilinear canvases. In Lotus Flower and Goldfish, an acrylic on canvas tondo, Ito appropriates the pools-and-waterfalls motif from medieval Japanese painting as a palette for a contemporary overlay of Warholian silver leaf, purple polka dots, and miniature frolicking swimmers with scuba fins. Cosmos, Chrysanthemum and Dalmatian — a scroll-like, rectilinear painting in acrylic, gouache, and gold leaf on canvas— combines a running floral motif with running Dalmatian dogs (“nearly 101 of the variety made famous in Western animation”). At 20” x 180” in length, Cosmos covers a full wall of the Liner gallery. When examined closely, one can find tiny, hidden representations of the work of “Factory Pop” artists such as Andy Warhol (The Campbell’s Soup Can) and Jeff Koons (Balloon Dog) while two other pieces, Shark and Lobster and Butterfly Primavera pay discreet homage to Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (shark in formaldehyde tank) and “For the Love of God” (Diamond-Encrusted Skull), respectively.  

Tat Ito’s Memento Mori runs through June 11, 2011 at the Joshua Liner Gallery, Located at  548 West 28th Street, 3rd Floor (between 10th and 11th Avenues) New York, NY 10001. Gallery Hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 11 AM – 6 PM

“Butterfly Primavera” (Section, Click Image to Enlarge)

Skull Garden Chair

Souviens toi que tu vas mourir (“Remember That You Will Die”) Chair by Pool

This bitchen Skull Garden Chair is part of an art exhibit that you can see at the French Cultural Center if you’re going to be in Milan, Italy between the dates of April 12-17, 2011.

Thanks to Carole J for the Tip!