Sage Vaughn and Cali Thornhill Dewitt move northward to San Francisco for their exhibition at Chandran Gallery opening October 28 from 7-9pm. You remember that Sage is also part of our Juxtapoz x Superflat show opening November 5 at Vancouver Art Gallery, and Cali also has a standout installation up in Copenhagen at Eighteen Gallery.
That each artist is based in one of the most densely populated places on earth, Los Angeles, only adds to the notion of destruction and chaos. Although each artist juxtaposes various eras and mediums throughout their work, there are undeniable elements of humor and a contemporary approach to language. Recently, Sage Vaughn’s work has focused on Vanitas, a historical genre associated with still-life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries in Flanders and the Netherlands. Even the word Vanitas, meaning “symbols of death or change as a reminder of their inevitability,” considers mortality and life as parallel truths. Vaughn’s new garden paintings speak of both control and life, as the garden is man’s authorship over nature. Vaughn alters the mood of the work with objects like wildflowers within the garden, often tumbled together in disarray, suggesting the eventual overthrow of the living achievements they represent. But the work is also capturing a comedic view of pop culture’s representation of death, where gardens surround an entombed king or Terry Kiser from Weekend at Bernie’s. These symbols are emblematic of false idols and the absurdity of trying to control life and death.
Cali Thornhill DeWitt's recent works have similarly been an exercise in capturing the duality of life and man-made destruction. His practice has been a combination of declarative text on corrugated plastic with often opposing imagery. Pristine images of Planet Earth with the phrase “TARGET” written over it, or the words “MAN ON EARTH” covering photos of atomic bombs detonating represent both the beauty of destruction and man’s inevitable desire to be the destructive force. Through design work, most recently with Kanye West, along with DeWitt’s own label, Society, as well as a recent standout exhibition of text and American flag work in Copenhagen, DeWitt has reimagined America’s pop cultural history while striking a balance of both criticism and fascination.