Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parallel Movement: Justin Nelson & Daniel Mrgan @ C. Emerson Fine Arts

Parallel Paths at C. Emerson Fine Arts is a duo show with Daniel Mrgan and Justin Nelson, both of whom have been reviewed here before and are no strangers to CEFA's walls. The theme here is the process of exploration and discovery.

Daniel Mrgan is an artist and graphic designer from Croatia who currently lives in St, Pete. A slender, articulate man in his early thirties who works in sculpture, drawing, burned wood, and other media. [Full Disclosure: I own two of his works.]. Mrgan has said he "doodles compulsively", laying out the drawings on a flat surface making narratives and connections for and between them.

Daniel Mrgan, "I thought I had an idea, but..."

At the opening, I mentioned to Daniel that I was particularly drawn to the image at left. He told me that this was the Ur-work, the first, and the one that spawned the series. On the left half are a pair of blue and yellow splotches. On the right, a recurring Mrgan character with a blocky head and body, wearing boots. To the right of the figure we see a cross between an IV drip and a moonshiners' still. The figure looks anxious and/or stressed and anxious.

Daniel Mrgan, "Softcore II"

"Softcore II" is one of at least a trio of pieces under that heading. Here we see a figure with a transparent penis or cucumber-like flaccid upper torso bending (in despair?) down almost to the ground.The hands are holding on, forearms bent in resistance. The title is a self-cancelling double entendre. The figure is a sadly impotent one.

Daniel Mrgan, "Trying to understand you"

 These works are crayon and acrylic on wood, with a kind of neo-folk style that Mrgan has honed over time. Recurring themes are dysfunctional relationships, society and culture, displacement, the ephemerality of things and much more. In "Trying to understand you", a complex, dense image, shows two figures. Above them, three light-bulbs reminiscent of the ones in Picasso's "Guernica", things dangle from the edge of the frame. A snake-like figure wends its way above. Below, an alchemist's laboratory around the figures. In between the flasks and tubes, there is what looks like an allusion to DuChamp's "Large Glass".

Justin Nelson, "Pessimysticism"

For Justin Nelson drawin has been an obsession since childhood. He finds solace in the process, particularly in the details, the smallest details, those that only he is privy to. Secrets out in the open. He has referred to his work as illustrations of his dark feelings, and color as a kind of antidote to it. Hair figures prominently in a lot of his work, very detailed hair whose form is often intricate and tensioned. Note the play between powerful detail and the almost palpable presence of the invisible.

Justin Nelson, "Visions of our Impending Doom.

 In "Visions of Our Impending Doom" , we see the hair and forehead of a face. Below, a quartet of rainbow-hued inverted arcs in variegated colors. An existential tension between the hair, title and colors, the aritst's darkness and a kindness for the viewer.

Justin Nelson, "The Day You Burst"

"The Day You Burst" , an ink and watercolor on paper abstract of leaf-like forms with great detail and color is a lyrically bewildering work, the kind one can get lost in.

[Great hair courtesy of Elena Sarn]

Congratulations to artists Justin Nelson, Daniel Mrgan, CEFA owner Lori Johns and her intern Elena Sarn for a very good show.

--- Luis


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