Whitehot Magazine

September 2010, John Andolsek @ Blythe Projects

John Andolsek, 'What's Puzzling You...(after Zapruder film still #312)
Oil on linen, 48 x 70 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Blythe Projects

John Andolsek: Black Tie, White Noise
Blythe Projects
5797 Washington Boulevard
Culver City
California 90232
September 18 through October 23

In his first Los Angeles solo show, Black Tie, White Noise, John Andolsek presents an unconventional manner of viewing the kind of imagery that has long allured Western culture, including currency, corporate logos, American flags, and John F. Kennedy. While the acquisition of wealth, power, and political gain lie at the crux of the American ethos, Andolsek’s lucid works of oil on linen present the viewer with a kaleidoscopic lens with which to dissect the power structures at play. The keystone work, Black Dollar Bill, is the first instance of Andolsek’s kaleidoscopic mode of viewing. The piece is instantly familiar because of its shape - an oversized dollar bill that we would nearly feel comfortable removing from the gallery wall. As currency is a part of our culture, and the acronym BEP (Bureau Engraving of Print) is present throughout the show, we can immediately assign a use value to the object represented. Andolsek plays with the interchangeable relationship of art and commerce, and with the irony that several handfulls of bills can be used to purchase a painting about currency. The intentionally rough hand of the artist makes the currency appear decrepit and antiquated, while the blurred white paint makes it ambiguous, its value uncertain. Black Dollar Bill points to an ongoing dialogue present in Black Tie, White Noise, around how the images that have shaped our culture are contingent on perception. 

John Andolsek, 'Black Dollar Bill', 2010
Oil on linen, 10 x 23 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Blythe Projects

Named after the 1990 David Bowie record, the works in Black Tie, White Noise provide their own soundtrack - one that has been embedded in the consciousness of popular culture: the delicate ping of champagne glasses toasting the successes of yesterday, the sizzle of hot dogs on a dog day summer afternoon, counting and then recounting crisp currency on payday, the revving of a supercharged engine, burning rubber, and gunshots seen, heard, or remembered that make the mind go white. With a gaudy and plastic frame meant to mimic the decadent Rococo style, Andolsek’s monochromatic message in Members Only is almost hidden. While the work showcases his sense of humor, it is more seriously intended to summon the masses and open the artwork to everyone. Andolsek dares his audience to challenge monocular ways of seeing and echoes Bowie when he claims “They’ll show us to break the rules, but never how to make the rules, reduce us down to witless punks, fascist cries both and black, who’s got the blood, who’s got the gun, putting on the black time, cranking on the white noise.”

In many ways John Andolsek feels like the omniscient narrator, carefully placing works across from each other to spark internal dialogues. Sunroof Top, Diamond in the Back points to a simpler time when success was defined by a Cadillac, an American automobile that represented all things glorious. The glisten of the turquoise Cadillac is eclipsed by the work nearly directly across from it on the opposite end of the gallery, What's Puzzling You...(after Zapruder film still #312). Inspired by the 27- second home movie of the Kennedy assassination from Abraham Zarpruder, frame 312 marks the moment after the First Lady of Texas turns to Kennedy and says “Well Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you,” and before he is struck in the head with the devastating bullet. The title was inspired by a Rolling Stones verse in “Sympathy for the Devil”: “I shouted out, who killed the Kennedys? Well after all, it was you or me. Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name oh yeah, but what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.” The canvas is largely occupied by green paint, signaling the grassy knoll; pit momentarily distracts the eye from the two huddled figures at the bottom of the canvas. Jackie O’s pink suite seems a blur, as if we are witnessing the murder from the vantage point of a spectator. A policeman whose authority is useless is seen behind the Lincoln convertible, while an unidentified bystander lurks in the foreground. Andolsek transforms the canvas not into a projection screen complete with the stuttering with sprockets finished with faux rust, but a portal back in time. While we are accustomed to our parents reminding us where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, it was a moment that reverberated through time and space and continues to shatter us as it marks a loss of innocence and promise. 

John Andolsek, 'SunRoof Top, Diamond in the Back', 2009
Oil on linen, 48 x 70 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Blythe Projects

While many of us do not remember where we were when Kennedy was assassinated, we can tell you the day we watched the Twin Towers fall on September 11, 2001. Black Friday depicts a thick grid of white lines filled in with varying shades of blue, as if viewing the World Trade Center in a sweeping glance. Thick black patches cover portions of the grid, while a lone diamond sinks to the bottom of the canvas like a parachute. Black Friday marks the recent death of the financial institution in America, and the optimism and hope that we need to restore it feels lost in the pregnant moment before Kennedy was assassinated.

A unique component to Black Tie, White Noise is the Project Room, adjacent to the main gallery. The space is a wonderland for the senses. It features four drag race tires salvaged from a junkyard, and while there were two Good Year Tires the artist did not reveal them… after all was it really a good year? Andolsek completed his first installation piece at Blythe Projects using wheat paste to adhere sheets of corporate trademarks from A through Z, or, from Asa to Zyrtec. On the opposite wall are several American flags made from astro turf, roofing tar, cow’s blood, and burnt gun powder, which not only goes to show that Andolsek can make art of out nearly anything, but impies that the fabric of America is as diverse as his materials. A cop light with the siren removed casts a whirling red spell on the eyes, while a cerebral soundtrack plays overhead. Inserting a tape recorder into his motorcycle helmet, Andolsek walked through a casino to capture the drone of the slot machines and mixed it with an ethereal opera. A crown of thorns made of glass, by a Santa Fe artisan, is protected beneath a plexicase case, while an inflated cellophane American flag is on the adjacent pedestal, also under plexiglass. A mirror placed on four paint cans reflects an American flag made with 49 1-dollar bills. When hovering over the glass the viewer’s face is suspended in the area where the stars would be and the images is repeated over and over again, as if we are held captive to consumerism, life inside the grid, and symbolism of America. The red light in the Project Room remains constant, as if Andolsek is reminding us that this repetition is the cross that we bear.

John Andolsek, 'Black Friday', 2009
Oil on linen, 80 x 60 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Blythe Projects

A. Moret

A native Angelino, Moret spends her days wandering art spaces and writing in Moleskine notebooks.  Her work has appeared in such publications as Art Works, ArtWeek, Art Ltd., Artillery, Art Scene, Flaunt, Flavorpill, For Your Art, THE, and The Los Angeles Times Magazine. She also created her own magazine “One Mile Radius” with photographer Garet Field Sells that explores the effects that the urban environ of Los Angeles has on artists and their work.  To learn more visit www.byamoret.com

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