November 18th, 2019

Jonathan Julien, local Utahan and Gallery MAR artist, is currently featured at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA).

The show is titled “Abstraction is Just a Word, but I Use It.”

The selected pieces are from Julien’s series: “Collaboration with Pico de Gallo, and feature painting and collage elements from a charismatic fruit vendor’s hand-written signs.

While on a surfing trip in northern Baja Mexico, Julien stumbled across a languid, sun-drenched fish market called Popotla. The place was a big outdoor living room packed with tables, chairs, and locals conversing together casually next to the ocean. Everything seemed to be worn down and faded by a thick layer of salt.

As he wandered through the market, a few colorful signs caught Julien’s eye: “Spicy Pineapple with Coconut and Mango. Papaya, Lime, and Jícama.” The Spanish words were written in sprawling, bent lines.

Inquiries about the signs led the artist to Armando Castro Hernandez, aka, Pico de Gallo, a charismatic vendor who serves fresh fruit bowls. In Pico’s signs Julien immediately recognized the visual purity of his untrained hand that overlapped with the dynamic and rhythmic forms he was trying to create in his own artwork.  In these forms Jonathan discovered an opportunity to explore the political, economic and cultural metaphors attached to this subject. Through a translated English to Spanish conversation with Pico, a cross-border, cross-cultural, cross-occupational collaboration was born.





MAIN GALLERY: JUN 28, 2019 | JAN 25, 2020

Languages evolve from gestures and sounds to a system of words, phrases, and in some cases, letters or hieroglyphics. Today, there are roughly 6,500 languages spoken around the world. Language is also something that continues to evolve with society. New words are introduced, and older words die out, shift, continue, or alter their meaning from the original intent over time.

The same evolutionary process could be applied to the term abstraction, especially within art circles.

Abstraction developed as a visual language that existed outside representational art, one that relied on color, shape, form, and composition to evoke a response from the viewer and to be self-referential. In some cases, abstraction was about honesty—pure paint on canvas, free from illusion and artifice.

But as abstraction has evolved as an artistic practice over decades of use, artists have adopted and personalized abstraction, developing their own use of that visual language and assigning their own meaning. In a way, they have created their own coded language within the broader use of the term abstraction, in their own individualized dialect.

Anna Campbell Bliss
Kelly Brooks
Christian Casas
Matt Choberka
Shalee Cooper
Peter Everett
Nolan Flynn
Jonathan Frioux
Pico de Gallo (née Armando Castro Hernández)
Christopher Kelly
Hyunmee Lee
Stephanie Leitch
Allan Ludwig
Dave Malone
Art Morrill
Andrew Rice
Lou Shafer
Casey Jex Smith
Jaclyn Wright