JUAN ROJO: VANITAS
Jay Etkin Gallery / 942 S. Cooper St. February 4 - March 18th
A vanitas is a still-life artwork that normally includes symbolic objects designed to remind the viewer of their mortality an the worthlessness of worldly goods and pleasures. Vanitas is Juan Rojo's fourth solo show at Jay Etkin Gallery and the first one entirely produced during the pandemic. It possesses darker undertones but also an even bigger exaltation of color, life and painterly enjoyment than his previous work. There are significant changes in format, with multiple works that recall Renaissance tondos, and a transformation in composition strategies, due it part to the difficulty of using models during this time but also to the work's natural development. The surreal and magical have taken center stage; images veer from phantasmagorical to jubilant and luscious, creating a contrast between the familiar and the bizarre. Ultimately, what Rojo presents in his new body of work is a call to enjoy life while it lasts, a visual carpe diem that manifests in each of these new paintings, which are imploring to be savored by the viewer.