demystifying the artist statement

Dear Lester Monzon and Lester's Gallery Who Should Know Better if Lester Doesn't,

Biography suggests that one speak about one's life. That's how it works. In the field of art. We use statement, biography, resume or CV.  The differences are distinct and important. I have offered a more understandable and accessible version of your "about" statement even if you have titled it "biography".  And while I translate this statement-biography to poke fun at artist statements in general, I wonder if Monzon or his gallery actually means to say what he/it has said?  In other words, is the statement, like the paintings, also a kind of joke, and if so, why?

Sincerely, kds

 Lester Monzon,  Googley, 2010 / acrylic and graphite on linen / 9 x 12 inches, courtesy Lester Monzon + Mark Moore Gallery

Lester Monzon, Googley, 2010 / acrylic and graphite on linen / 9 x 12 inches, courtesy Lester Monzon + Mark Moore Gallery

(original "biography")

By collapsing of architecture, space, and art history, Lester Monzon's work dissects the notion of context. Colorful gesticulations conceal sections of rigid patterning, a tete-a-tete between abstract expressionism and hard-edge abstraction that implies a gentle lampooning of the taxonomic tradition. Monzon upends the formalism and segregation innate to the fine art world, and fabricates a composite genealogy of painting - a pithy resolution to an otherwise vapid debate. Monzon's luscious brushstrokes slyly creep into a Hirst-esque field of dots or Noland-like plane of stripes, like the resurrection of a once-declared dead practice through a satirical hand. In his recent work, Monzon applies this critique of contextual art to mark-making in public spaces; be it graffiti on tiles in a public bathroom, stains on the sidewalk, or the popularized notion of "street art.

  Damien Hirst. “Zirconyl Chloride,” 2008. Household gloss on canvas. 84 inches diameter. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. © Damien Hirst/ Science Ltd, 2012. Photography Prudence Cuming Associates.

Damien Hirst. “Zirconyl Chloride,” 2008. Household gloss on canvas. 84 inches diameter. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. © Damien Hirst/ Science Ltd, 2012. Photography Prudence Cuming Associates.

(translated "statement")

Lester Monzon makes pictures that refer to architecture, how architecture sits in space and art history.  Sometimes he paints in a messy way and sometimes he paints very precisely.  In Monzon’s world, both of these actions refer to traditions of abstract expression and hard-edge abstraction. With this, Monzon offers an artist’s inside joke:  my paintings, in capsule, offer a system of classification for art history.  He doesn’t want you to worry about what issues* arise in the art world because you can accept his quick and concise summation of art history in place of others’ uninteresting and bland solutions**. 

(Skipping ahead to technique without transition) Monzon uses a lot of paint.  If this paint were a person, he is a sly personality that can impersonate dots or stripes (that Monzon associates with the artist Hirst (dots) and the artist Noland (stripes)).  By impersonating dots and stripes, Monzon (or this sly person who is paint) miraculously brings dots and stripes back to life because they had been dead*.  You should realize that this is satire.

These days, Monzon is taking his version of funny to the streets - literally.  He is painting on dirty sidewalks, on the tile in public restrooms or in some place that is called “street art” that has been made popular.  

** Monzon graciously removes the viewer from a “vapid” solution to a “pithy” one

In summary, I think Mr. Monzon might engage someone to write more precisely about how and why his painting and his work merits discussion and appreciation.  This statement does no service to him, his work or to the viewer.  The work can be satirical and difficult to understand.  The statement should not.  It should additionally be an explanation and give, if not a roadmap, at least a cardinal direction toward better knowing the work and the artist.

  Kenneth Noland, Via Light 1968, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 113 inches, Courtesy of Lelie Feely Fine Art

Kenneth Noland, Via Light 1968, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 113 inches, Courtesy of Lelie Feely Fine Art