JUAN ROJO: MASQUERADE
Jay Etkin Gallery / 942 S. Cooper St. November 16, 2018 - December 12, 2018
The Merrian-Webster dictionary defines masquerade as "a social gathering of persons wearing masks and often fantastic costumes" and it describes perfectly the new body of work by Juan Rojo presented at Jay Etkin Gallery. The show is full of playfulness and exuberance, and decoration plays a primary role as an element that intrudes and at times even obscures the faces of the subjects and disguises their identity. Masks and costumes are present in most of the pieces and are used to explore issues of intimacy as well as personal narratives of the models or social concerns of the artist. In the paintings these individual narratives and social commentary are intertwined and are the product of the collaborative process between model and artist that materializes at the photo shoots. There is a playful and trusting relationship between artist and his (always non professional) models that allows the artist to use their bodies as mannequins, as structures to which all sorts of objects can be attached. Some objects are meaningful to the models, or are used to make a social comment, but others are placed there to compose form, color or line. This dress-up process is intuitive and anarchic but also treated with great care and a fundamental part of the process. This playful approach helps Rojo to discover new forms and to deepen his exploration of the figure.