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e x h i b i t s

Devon Paulson
"The Second Tear"

April 14 -May 5, 2011
Reception Thursday April 14, 7-9pm
In conjunction with the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk


“Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch."
—Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of being (1984)


LACDA is pleased to present Devon Paulson's "The Second Tear," a solo exhibition of recent digital compositions including printed images, paintings and sculptures that include audio and olfactory components. This is his first solo exhibition at Los Angeles Center for Digital Art.

When you enter the show you enter the world of Paulson's elements that hang together like a barrel of monkeys, both idiomatically and strategically. His work folds inside of itself the low-brow of kitsch and vernacular photographs with a high modernist aesthetics and high art linguistic usages. Here Cookie Jars are taken as the subject of contemplation, both as works of aesthetic beauty and as distasteful detritus for ridicule, both as empty vessels of kitsch and deposits of psychoanalytical virtue, both as dabs of paint and as wholly finished sculptures. Paulson culls nearly all of the jars from sources such as eBay and other internet auction sites, cutting them out from their backgrounds and composing them into various overlapping fields and forms of his own kaleidoscopic reflections. Apropos of this, he conflates the vernacular with color charts, the Color Field Painting of the '40s and '50s, graffiti abatement, the gaze and the beholder and even heavy handed art-theory speak.

Throughout his work Paulson has developed and expanded his interest in cookie jars, from analyzing the way people photograph the jars to trying to understand why we enjoy cute objects. Is it a mode of dominating the pitiable object or identifying with it. The kind of question being anxiously examined here is weather cuteness isn't a quality that we find in something, but rather it is that which we invest into an object. It functionally creates aesthetic categories out of pity, helplessness, unhappiness and deformity. Kitch looks like art but is not art because it is simple and empty; nothing in kitch is hidden or difficult, there is nothing to contemplate.

What takes place in "The Second Tear" is the utilization of this low-brow, simplistic language to speak to higher aesthetic concepts and the psychology of the original beholder. Consequently a reversal occurs where the contemplator becomes the contemplated. The individual gazing the work is also being beheld by both the jar and it's original photographer. It creates an odd transcedence located between the comfort of the familiar and the discomfort of the strange, in the balance of the banal object with high formalism, and in oscillations transiting the ultra vacuous and the over informed.




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