“The past is a foreign country,” author L.P. Hartley famously wrote in his book The Go-Between. Perhaps that’s why we hold on to the postcards…
Multidisciplinary artist Moises Mendoza studied at the Art Center College of Design. His artwork has been a part of numerous group shows, including Topanga Canyon Studio Tour and “After the Rain” Group Show at Topanga Canyon Gallery in 2017, “Festival De Las Flores” at Neutra Gallery & Museum in 2018, “The Immigrants in Pomona” Group Show at Latino Art Museum and the “Perspectivas” Group Show at TCG in 2019.
He agreed to meet mid-week for a private showing of his work currently exhibited at TCG’s latest show: Test Pattern. His pieces “Cascada” and “Superposition” are familiar to me, they leapt from my screen as I perused his website before the gallery visit. His work possesses a duality, a layering of color and abstract shapes that sing both digitally and face to face. And that made perfect sense as he’s behind the gallery’s beautiful website.
During our walk through he explained his process for creating “‘Cascada” and “Superposition.”
“I didn’t really have a plan for it. I had the idea of creating structure around this piece that resembles the waterfall (cascada is Spanish for waterfall) and sat on it for a while. With ‘Superposition’, and any piece, I start by considering what colors and contrasts I will use. I have been really drawn to these rock formations for some time now. The idea behind Superposition was to create a fluid feeling and almost holographic layers.
“I think I was fortunate growing up here in Los Angeles so close to nature. I didn’t really appreciate it until I was old enough to drive and be out on my own to explore. I’m not an especially anxious person but I found the mountains and forests very comforting in a particular way. I do my best to replicate that peaceful and quiet feeling.”
I asked Moises whether he feels we are in a time of creative insurgence or are we in a lull? He shared, “I’ve seen a factoid that got pretty popular around the internet during the quarantine that read, ‘Isaac Newton created calculus during a pandemic’, as if to tell us all that we’re all wasting time if we’re not making some world changing contribution to society.”
Moises poignantly addresses something we’re all grappling with during the pandemic; as spread thin as we are, are we doing enough?
“I would say don’t feel pressured to create. There are obviously bigger things on people’s minds given all that 2020 has thrown at us. Keeping your health, physically and mentally is the priority.”
Sound advice. He quietly shared that ’Cobalt Suiseki’, another one of my favorites, had just sold and he had to find a piece to replace it in the gallery.
His three piece series “Lavender/Sulfur” caught my attention as something new.
“This series I completed during lockdown,” he shared. “I had no intention of making any art, even though this is the perfect opportunity to, I just didn’t have that feeling to do so, until I did. With everyone feeling so down I wanted to include a few bubbly pieces with feelings of happiness. Something I’ve struggled with is creating deadlines for myself.”
Eyeing his notebooks, and as an avid collector of Moleskine notebooks myself, I ask him if he would be open to sharing some pages with TNT. To my delight, they were filled with ink sketches of stills from classic films. “I’ve only recently started watching more classics,” he said. “I had plenty of time to indulge more during the quarantine so I took the opportunity. Some of my faves were Dr. Strangelove, The Exterminating Angel, La Religieuse, La Visita. Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid was really funny, unbelievable that it’s 100 years old.”
In prepping for this interview there was one fascinating element: I couldn’t find a photograph of Moises. Anonymity, even a sliver of it, is incredibly desirable in our landscape of over sharing. Sensitive to the feeling of being in front of a lens I ask him if he’s comfortable with a portrait.
“Personally I like to keep my anonymity, though I know that’s not especially helpful in this business. Today it’s obviously all about brand building and a face to go with the art helps. Some are pretty comfortable with that, more power to them. Whatever it takes to sell more art. I had enough trouble getting the nerve to share my art with other people, so presenting myself will be a bit of a slow crawl. Though when I think about my favorite artists working today most I don’t even know what they look like or anything about their personal lives so maybe I’m not so alone in that reluctance.”
He was open to it and with our masks on, walked to a place nearby the gallery. In two takes, we got it. Moises is a covert natural.
Test Pattern, Topanga Canyon Gallery Show: New Works from Abstract Artists, Delbar Azari, Moises Mendoza, Robin Tripaldi
August 18th through Sept 20th 2020. Weekends 12pm-5pm and by appointment. 310 993 6356