Justin John Greene: Welcome To Our Mess
As part of its Viewing Room programme, Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present Welcome to Our Mess a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Justin John Greene, his first in the UK. This new suite of paintings offers a panorama of a sun-washed, tragicomic barbeque with scenes set against the background of an oddly utopic neighbourhood, in which themes of conflict and romance are paramount.
In these works, subject matter drawn from Greene’s personal surroundings – portraits of friends and family, plant-life and scenery from his life in Southern California – are juxtaposed with fictional elements that recall stylistic approaches and imagery drawn from other paintings, murals, films, and advertisements. His paintings present a collision of art-historical styles, referencing a diverse group of influences, including Baroque genre painting, social realism, Diego Rivera’s murals, Stanley Spencer’s religious paintings and R. Crumb’s satirical and scathing cartoons of American life. In these paintings, the artist brings together these numerous and seemingly disparate allusions in a series of tableaux. Greene stages the idea of the backyard barbeque as a mythical vision and reveals a tension between the imaginary and the real, the spiritual and the mundane, propaganda and truth. While his style evokes a sense of realism, his subject matter propels the viewer into another realm, at once strangely familiar and completely alien.