A Culture of Artists
In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor at the Laguna Art Museum features works from 148 artists published in art magazine, Juxtapoz.
The art published in Juxtapoz - a cutting edge art magazine since its inception 14 years ago - is the focal point of In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor. Curator Meg Linton meticulously researched every issue, categorizing the art and forming a list of 800 artists and determining the frequency of their work that made it into the magazine. Even more significantly, Linton studied the art's similar characteristics and unique distinctions. From this data, the exhibition was born, not as an art movement, but as a culture of artists tied to the Juxtapoz umbilical cord in every media and style. Linton selected 148 artists and 168 works, mainly wall pieces and some sculptures. Whenever possible, she tried to obtain the original work seen in print; or when not available, chose a piece that would be a spin-off to surprise viewers with the unexpected.
The Juxtapoz link brought and continues to bring together artists from all over the world who most likely have never met, but share a common vision. By publishing e-mail addresses of artists reviewed, the magazine formed a web that has encircled the globe bringing hitherto isolated artists together. Although not part of the exhibition, art influenced by Juxtapoz can be found in most parts of the world, springing up wherever an artistic voice seeks amplification.
Unlike artistic movements of the past - impressionism, futurism, abstract expressionism, to name a few - the Juxtapoz factor is not an organized movement. This is a movement of the computer age, brought together by the editorial staff of Juxtapoz. It evolved freely from artists who speak a similar language, a pervasive art that incorporates narrative realism of folk art, animé, cartoons, graffiti, pop, eroticism, and surrealism - highly sophisticated down-to-earth and fanciful imagery, spoofing everyone and everything. While many of the styles and presentations are reminiscent of past art, the work comes together in expressing the 21st century, a time of great uncertainty, chaos, collapsing ideals, and fear. Widespread and deep suffering is often masked by what appears to be narrative, realistic, childlike imagery where boundaries are stretched beyond recognition and artistic freedom covers up the fact that there is no escape; we are all in this together and are individually responsible for getting ourselves out.
Another way Juxtapoz is unique is that artists create from their lineage, not from a primary conceptual base. While they freely dip into historical paintings, pop, everyday hot rods, and surf culture, Robert Williams, artist, founder and publisher of Juxtapoz, has been instrumental in creating a forum where cartoons and illustrations have risen to become a valid form of art. As it turns out, a huge amount of multi-generational artists are working in this figurative narrative genre and are flooding art schools, galleries and other venues with their Juxtapoz-type creations.
The Juxtapoz factor got its kick start from several metamorphic exhibitions, starting in 1992 with Helter-Skelter, Kustom Kulture and various surfing shows. Droves of artists were recognized for creating imagery based on mass media, egalitarian art outside the accepted norm that often shocks and sends shivers down one's spine. Their art also lulls as it no longer is solely cosmopolitan, high-brow and limited to the rich and educated. Everyone can enjoy the Juxtapoz factor; its uncomplicated nature speaks the vernacular of the masses, yet in its deceptive way, Juxtapoz is loaded with content and never fails to make a direct hit time and time again.
WHAT In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor
WHERE Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-8971; lagunaartmuseum.org
WHEN Through October 5, 2008