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John Nava, David Kassan “ELEGIES” Exhibit at Vita Art Center
August 13, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
An event every day that begins at 8:00 am, repeating until August 14, 2021
Ventura, CA 93001 United States
Paintings – Tapestries – Drawings by John Nava and David Kassan
EXHIBIT DATES: June 12 – August 14, 2021
Art can witness. Presented within art the aftermath of injustice can be indelibly etched. Not forgotten, not erased. These works remember the human cost of racism and political violence.
These artists are holding the world to account. Both by the monumental scale of the tapestries and their exceptional technical prowess, Nava and Kassan command attention to their subject matter whether it be images of people who died while suffering hardships nobody should ever suffer or in the case of Kassan adults who once suffered monstrous hardships yet lived to tell their story; a story held in their bodily stance, a story that speaks of both defiance and dignity.
It is a curious shift in our historical focus that throws these two together. Figurative artworks were once outflanked in importance by a bold new abstraction, but with abstraction the ability to tell stories all but dried up. Instead abstraction often functioned as handy decor for corporations to inoculate their walls and entrances from difficult meanings.
While abstraction took the helm, figurative artists either took the opportunity for playful fantasy, or superb rendering or painting of life models friends and family. Figurative art finally became fully democratic. No more paintings of the wealthy landowner in front of their vast estates. No more vanity paintings of the vacuous tabloid celebrities of the day? Figurative artists in their return to the art world center embraced that democracy by way of painting each and everyone of us, while others simply refused to embrace or confront the world and took refuge in a somnambulant drift into fantasy.
It is an imaginative shift to take on difficult subject matter. Both Nava and Kassan have refused the easy way out, and in an almost seemingly nonchalant way, have offered us up these effigies. The power of the work is not in an entertaining or glamorous portrayal, but a neutral depiction, a simple presentation, albeit with highly skilled paint work, but nonetheless presented without comment, without fuss or fanfare. The burden of meaning is squarely dumped into our laps. The images create complicated feelings, the young women looking out at us, still, seemingly emotionless, or blossoming in youthful femininity, growing in strength, proud in her Sunday best, uncertain, and above all innocent. And the adult survivor, a bridge to a terrible past, and an uneasy reminder that history is not a movie with actors, it is what really happened, and this person was there.
They are monuments in paint and fiber and although also figurative, they contain the exact opposite content to the grand depictions of inherited wealth and power; they contain the effect of that power, and the losses power inflicted both on these individuals, and through us witnessing that loss, the rest of us collectively.
These artworks have given the survivor the final say, and the innocent a voice forever.
A special thank you to Buena Tile + Stone for sponsoring this exhibit
Images shown above:
Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzales | Unique Jacquard Tapestry | Artist: John Nava