Biographies: Pancho Jiménez & Leslie Plato Smith

April 27 – May 27, 2017
First Friday Reception:  May 5th from 6-9 pmimage left: Jiménez, Hipster, ceramic, 14.5×6.5×9” right: Smith, Aaron, oil on canvas, 72×48″

Portraiture is updated and given new twists in this exhibit of oil paintings and ceramic sculpture by Leslie Plato Smith and Pancho Jiménez. Exploring the line between individuality and universality, the two adopt nearly opposite strategies in their work while drawing on cultural histories, new and old, to create powerful pieces that invite thoughtful viewers to question assumptions about artistic traditions. 

The canvases of Leslie Plato Smith are large and brash. With confidence and wildly expressive brushwork, she paints friends as well as infamous characters drawn from lurid news stories. She describes her intent as follows: “Interested in the human condition, emotion is the intersection between wild like an animal and the analytical, self-assessing, moral being humans strive to be. In order to delve into the very nature of man’s code of conduct, personal conflict, and ethical dilemma, I use portraiture to explore relationships, to bring the political into the art world, and the obligation of being human into the conversation.” 

Pancho Jiménez’ stately ceramic “busts” initially resemble ancient icons. Loosely based on colossal Olmec heads, Jiménez’s Biographies do not describe actual people. They reveal loaded iconography aimed at dissecting the current state of the world. The featureless faces are adorned with elaborately ornamented headdresses comprised of individual faces and a myriad of objects of contemporary culture – guns, tools, motorcycles, etc. The viewer is left to bring her/his own frame of reference to bear in interpreting these symbols and the gestalt of the whole.

The exhibit will be at GearBox Gallery, 770 West Grand Ave in Oakland from April 27, 2017 to May 27, 2017, with a reception on Friday, May 5. 

GearBox Gallery is a contemporary artist-run exhibit space which opened in February of 2015. The gallery is dedicated to showcasing the work of its members and guest artists in the region, and on fostering community dialogue and education through intellectual and cultural exchange focused on the visual arts.

The GearBox is open Thursdays and Fridays from 12 to 6 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm. GearBox Gallery is also open 6-9 pm the First Friday of every month as part of the Oakland Art Murmur Art Walk