Joel Mesler: The Alphabet of Creation (For Now)
As part of its Viewing Room programme, Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present The Alphabet of Creation (for now) an exhibition of new works by New York-based artist and art dealer Joel Mesler. For his first solo presentation in the UK, Mesler will exhibit new paintings from his ongoing body of work based on the alphabet, in which each painting is devoted to a single letter, drawing on memories from his childhood and his hometown of Los Angeles.
Although Mesler’s autobiographical paintings evoke illustrations from a children’s alphabet book, his distinctive style imbues them with a dark wit that reveals pivotal moments from his life. The arms of the individual lowercase letters snake in and around a pattern of overlapping green leaves, a recurring motif in his work that is based on the Martinique wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel – a place that, for Mesler, evokes powerful childhood memories:
“At the beginning of my parents’ divorce” he recalls, “We had brunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel. My father threw the brunch table over; the eggs Benedict ran down the side of the table onto my mother’s lap and he had a nervous breakdown. My mother chased him in our station wagon while my brother and I ran after him on foot. That was my point of arrested development.” He says, half-jokingly. “That’s when I stopped being a normal person, I think.”
On the occasion of the exhibition, and for two days only, Joel Mesler will be carrying out live portrait painting at the gallery, offering visitors the unique opportunity to engage with his practice in a very active and personal way. The 12 x 9 in. acrylic on canvas portraits will be painted by Mesler live in the gallery space, and available to buy for £200 each. With his trademark wit and idiosyncratic figurative style, the portraits will be composed with an economy of gesture and palette that is intrinsic to his work. Contrary to the works in the exhibition that are autobiographical and self-reflective, here Mesler turns his attention to the subject of the sitter.
The artist will be available for live portrait painting on Friday 20 April and Saturday 21 April, 12 – 5pm. Booking is not required, but portraits will be carried out on a first come first served basis.