The influence of modern art is noticeable in nearly every corner of contemporary culture. Billboards and advertisements across the country boast Warholian ‘pop’ aesthetics, while contemporary art museums have opened in locations as varied as Raleigh and Salt Lake City. It can seem difficult then to discover new artists using the vast canon of modern art in fresh, exciting ways. Two Los Angeles artists, however, are looking back to modern art as a springboard for novel twists on contemporary painting, sculpture, and constructions. In an upcoming show at New Image Art Gallery in West Hollywood, Chris Lux and Augustus Thompson are integrating styles from modern art and making them their own through new approaches in watercolor, sculpture, and installation.
Chris Lux is no stranger to modern art. His oeuvre embodies many varieties of styles from the period – cubism, art nouveau, symbolism – into a cohesive body of work grounded in unique narrative. In his upcoming joint exhibition at New Image, Lux’s work is as disparate as ever, updating two-dimensional work into deeply referential constructions that evoke historical paintings. Many of his cubist-like drawings have the appearance of strange, updated versions of Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations of the 19th century, combining demented smiley faces and crude gravestones into black-and-white narrative visuals. Implementing decoration, ceramics, lighting, and resin into his visual stories, Lux’s work is as technically detailed and meticulous as it is absorbing.
Where Lux’s work is based in narrative and disparate in style, Augustus Thompson’s evocative watercolors and constructions provide a perfect counterpart. Comprising a series of portrait studies alongside constructions in plaster, canvas, and black plastic, Thompson’s segment in the new joint exhibition at New Image is equally as intriguing as Lux’s. Using Aristide Maillol’s epic sculpture The River (1938-43) as inspiration, each of Thompson’s vivid portraits depict a different segment of time in the movement of Maillol’s woman frozen in agony. Even while glimpsing into the pain and affliction suggested within their inspiration, Thompson’s watercolors maintain a poignant and often quite beautiful aesthetic.
Chris Lux and Augustus Thompson’s joint exhibition opens this weekend at New Image Art Gallery and will be on display through September 8.