Elias Melad: PHONET
January 14 through February 6, 2022
By WM, January 2022
From the press release:
My Pet Ram is pleased to present PHONET, the first solo exhibition in New York by Brooklyn-based artist Elias Melad.
There’s something unassuming about Elias Melad’s latest paintings, no tricks bragged about, a quiet confidence that encodes a convincing humanity in visual terms — worlds made of drifting thoughts, incomplete systems and scrambled parts holding together. But the emphases, the accents and slurrings, the gaps and oddball drop-ins (what are those arrow-like forms in Second Voyage?) stop the easy naming. The paintings are picturing more complex feelings and ideas than were initially apparent. Their oscillation of lyricism and strangeness won’t stop, one begetting the other.
Questions come up about the decorative or pleasing as risk, if the paintings can keep just shy of harmonizing, both about-to and resistant-to. Analogies from daily life arise: the water-damaged unreadable note found in the street that still carries the human wish to record or communicate something; the eloquent but mute pavement of a weathered sidewalk that is simultaneously singular and generic; or specific dreams felt but forgotten. What is the risk that keeps the mind looking into these paintings? Perhaps it’s in concretizing in painting terms the assertion that the rounded edge still cuts.
While Melad’s new paintings are looser and lusher, shedding the tighter control and representational depiction of his previous work, they remain connected to his past in their reassembly of differently sourced elements and in their sureness of touch and tone. Their excerpted components also remain unreturned to the readability of their originating systems, but are somehow at peace with that. Into beds of choral sound, the leads are singing the lyrics with a calculated degree of distance — canceling the sentiment that the artist knows will rush in otherwise. What seems initially wholehearted has stayed rightly halved. Phonetic singing is lustless but full of longing. Here, worlds and the want of them are seen together. WM