May 5 – 28, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, May 5th, 8-11 PM
La Luz De Jesus Gallery proudly presents the return of First Generation pop surrealist, Philip Slagter. A contemporary of Robert Williams, Todd Schorr, and Mark Ryden (with several pieces in the collection of Eli Broad), Phil was sidelined by tragedy at his tipping point. After a decades-long absence from the Los Angeles contemporary art scene, he’s back and better than ever.
Philip Slagter – The Comeback
Philip Slagter‘s current work is an information-age lowbrow melange, over-stuffed with visual information from other cultures, world history, conspiracies, pop culture and kitsch. Slagter is a skilled technical painter who can maintain a precise level of detail while working on a large scale, which can sometimes thwart other artists. His paintings are packed with religious, political and pop cultural imagery, and references from the cultures of the places he’s lived and traveled: China, Thailand, Kenya, South America and more: an historical mash-up that reflects different eras of kitsch rendered authentically, whether the style is graffiti, anime, ’50s cartoons or hyper-realism.
As Philip Slagter (pronounced SLAY-tur) approaches age 70, the artist says he’s wary of beliefs and the way they can close your mind off from other possibilities.
“A lot of people think we’re here on this planet as a physical being and that maybe we can be lucky enough to have a spiritual experience,” he said. “I’m a proponent of exactly the opposite idea: we’re a spiritual being that gets to have an earthly experience. That experience is to learn and is to teach.”
Slagter, who’s shown his work in New York and Los Angeles, only recently began painting again.
Born in Indiana in the post-war 1940s, Phil got an education and headed to New York. In the early 1970s, Phil was a staff artist at New York Magazine, which allowed him to develop his illustration chops as his personal interests favored somewhat whimsical pop surrealist work like that being created by his contemporary, Robert Williams.
In 1990, Slagter sold a stockpile of about 300 works to Richard Carlson and Nancy Reges, the visionary patrons behind The Brewery Arts Colony, who hosted a mid-career survey of Philip’s work at Pasadena City College, but by the time the show opened, Slagter was gone. He used the windfall to travel to Thailand, where he lived for five years, got married and had a daughter. After a brief return to LA, they moved to Montana and Philip fell back on his muralist skills to support his family.
In 2007, he spent a year in Macau working with a small crew on a ceiling mural for the Venetian casino. It was 250,000 square feet of sky for an interior designed to resemble the city of Venice.
His ability, or desire, to paint completely eroded in 2012, following the death of his daughter, Dao. He equated the effect to post-traumatic stress disorder, and he spent the next three years doing nothing–barely even standing. In fact, when he finally decided to stand up and start having a life again, he couldn’t walk. His spine had twisted.
Slagter said it’s an interesting thing to “start a new career, a new life” at age 70. He’s back to his old working routine: starting between 3 and 5 in the afternoon and painting until sunrise, a habit he picked up in Macau.
“I’m just trying to have fun painting again. I might be here 30 years, or 10 years, or a week or a hour,” he said with a laugh.
Slagter said if he has to be labeled as anything, he’d call himself a Bernaysian pop surrealist, after Edward Bernays, author of the 1928 book, Propaganda and a pioneer in the ways public opinion can be manipulated. Despite political imagery, Slagter reiterates that he’s not a political artist.
“A political artist is a propagandist. A propagandist makes a political statement that he wants you to believe. I don’t want you to believe anything except what you learn on your own,” he said.
Regarding his own content, Slagter said he’s “looking at what people are believing, and what people are being subjected to… I don’t believe it, but I don’t disbelieve it.”
Renée French – Bunnies / Teachers From Memory
Renée French is an award winning comic writer and illustrator and children’s book author who consents to the occasional fine art exhibition, all of which sell out–and usually in advance. Much of her work is characterized by obsessive and sometimes unsettling detail. Her work has been nominated for a number of comics industry awards, including best artist nods from the Eisner, Ignatz, and Harvey Awards, and she is an Inkpot Award winner.
The narratives that unfurl from Renee’s mind and onto her paper span the wide chasm that exists between child friendly fairy tales and the dark gritty regions of adult introspection. Working primarily with extremely fine pointed graphite pencils on miniature pieces of paper, French conjures up fuzzy and foreboding images which convey humorous and disturbing tales. Focusing squarely on creating poignant and emotional portrayals of her characters, French saturates them with feeling, giving realism and depth to even the most fantastical of creatures, whether they be beautiful or less so. And with this last thought in mind, if there is one thing that Renee enjoys reminding us, it’s that we shouldn’t always judge a book by it’s cover.
This body of work includes Renée’s first leap into painting. The theme of Teachers from Memory was developed with her friend and colleague Scott Teplin, whose work will exhibit opposite hers throughout the month of May here at La Luz de Jesus Gallery.
Scott Teplin – Teachers From Memory / Classrooms Forgotten
Scott Teplin was born in 1972 on Halloween in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He had a fun but troubled youth that included getting expelled from middle school, burning off his right nipple while playing with homemade fireworks and irreparably embarrassing his family during his bar mitzvah. He earned shitty grades and avoided art because he thought it was for dumb kids. After inexplicably getting accepted (very late admissions) into UW-Madison, Teplin enrolled in a drawing class which he loved. Spending his junior year in Europe convinced him that he needed to be an artist. After college he moved to Manhattan where he worked in a run-down art supply store and collaborated with a group of eccentric book artists until he ran away to UW-Seattle for an MFA in printmaking. Two years later Teplin moved back to New York City where he lives with his wife and their two sons.
Scott Teplin has exhibited world-wide in museums and commercial galleries since 1998. His work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art (NYC and San Francisco), The New Museum, The Walker Art Center, The New York Public Library and several universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and California College of Arts and Crafts. He has exhibited work at PS1, The Bronx Museum, The Drawing Center, The New Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and The New York Public Library. His commissioned work is on permanent display as a mural on PS130 in Brooklyn and in the lobby of the new Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in Baltimore. He has been featured on numerous occasions in pages of The New York Times, Art Forum, Art in America, Art News, Salon.com, The Huffington Post, Artnet, High Fructose, Juxtapoz and on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
Contact Gallery Director Matthew Gardocki for purchase info: