VILLAZAN Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition called “It Was A Very Good Year, Kind Of” featuring an enfilade of new water-based spray paintings by the internationally-acclaimed contemporary artist, Stickymonger. The exhibition is perhaps the artist’s most personal one yet, offering viewers to peruse intricate and highly-conceptual pieces that recount the artist’s childhood memories, adult experiences and imaginative revellings that blend the artist’s past, present and future selves. From tondo works with intricate patterns and large scale paintings that depict the artist’s signature female subjects, the show tackles a myriad of themes including “split identities,” “belonging” and “familial relationships.”
The artist immerses herself in conversations with her past self, engaging in debates about the future, her identity and worldview. To emphasize these dreamlike revelations with her younger self, Stickymonger warps the backgrounds in her new tondo works 'How to Bear' and 'Control Freak,' creating distortions in space, time and perception. "The backgrounds of these pieces are warped because I wanted to imbue this feeling of having distortions of past memories," the artist stated. Across the array of works, many viewers will also notice that the works in this show feature a multitude of patterns. "The patterns recall the time when I was younger and had to wear a uniform to school. They also symbolize the strict conventions I encountered during my experiences as a child."
One of the highlights of the show is a diptych of two large-scale paintings that feature a row of girls with similar yet different compositions. The painting on the left is called "AM" while the one on the right is entitled "PM." These pieces feature the same five female subjects, but show viewers the contrast between their daytime and nighttime lives. For "AM," the girls are in school uniform attire with innocent facial expressions while "PM" highlights the same characters in a more rebellious fashion with surrealist elements including one character having eyeballs in the back of her head. The "PM" painting stresses the importance of self-expression and nurturing your imagination with "AM" being a reflection of how individuals adhere to more traditional, stricter modes of society. "These paintings stem from the memory of me working at a 9-5 creative agency trying to make ends meet, but when I was done with work, I would work on my art practice and hang out with my artist friends."
The artist continues to navigate the dualities of social identity in her new series of four works called 'Momma Told Me' that consists of landscape, portrait and tondo canvases with painted motifs of wooden frames. Imbuing an aura of elegance, the paintings depict her signature stoic and rebellious female subjects in stagey high school photos. "The figures in these paintings should relate to people who didn't necessarily listen to their parents, but realize that their parents are actually right about certain things," the artist stated. The title of the series is an homage to my favorite Japanese comic book called 'Papa Told Me' by Nanae Haruno. The comic follows an elementary school girl named Chise who lives with her widowed father, a novelist. The narratives showcase painful stories, but insightful lessons that the girl has learned from her father. The series portray different types of characters wearing the same school uniform, but with similar snarky expressions. The artist purposefully did this to emphasize that no matter how different people may be, they could be going through the same struggles in life.
Stickymonger hopes that these works can act as portals for onlookers to dwell in a particular memory for a moment and determine whether or not “It Was a Very Good Year, Kind Of.”