Enthusiasm is sky high, in San Francisco, where on July 11th Desire Obtain Cherish landed with his works at The McLoughlin Gallery at number 49 on Geary Street. Surely Joan McLoughlin is gloating. Many artists have passed through her gallery, such as Christine Comyn, David Middlebrook, Silvia Poloto, McKay Otto, Kristina Quinones, MoE Thomas, Renaud Delorme, Ah-Young Jeon, Pia Maria Martin, Colin McRae, Daniel Healey, Christopher H. Martin, Meghann Riepenhoff, Doug Thielscher, Evan ESK Wilson, Kirstine Roepstorff, and Cristobal Valecillos, the artist with a mustache like Salvador Dalì who creates environments and objects in paper and cardboard, from chimneys to shoes, from wagons to skateboards, from pleated dresses to those from the sixties and human comics in space.
Joan, a nice lady with a beautiful smile and polite ways, made a hit and doesn’t hide it. In fact it’s in her gallery that Desire Obtain Cherish, the irreverent artists based in Los Angeles, has had his first solo show in San Francisco. “There was an incredible flow of people” Joan tells us. A great satisfaction for this gallery owner who loves artists that “create unique and stimulating works, that is to say works of art that make you think”. Art work that makes you think is also the gallery’s motto, conceived as a social horizon, a space that can “educate” and “intrigue”. Really, what are you going to do with art if it doesn’t make you reflect or laugh, even bitterly, about yourself, your vices, your obsession, about what you are and that maybe you don’t know you are?
A bit like Desire Obtain Cherish, that ironically slaps you in the face with your obsession for fashion, the brand über alles, sex, the world of celebrities, and it doesn’t matter if the star that you liked so much was a person that spent their life among vices and a cosmic emptiness. He explains this to you himself, also by writing anecdotes and memories on the gallery’s walls in San Francisco: “The other day someone asked me, what art do you do? Art that makes people smile, I said. So for you everything is a game, someone asked me, making fun of me. I stopped for a minute and I sighed. No, people smile when they see my work, because they laugh about themselves”. And on sex: “One time a guy who was interviewing me about a book on fashion, he asked me, and what will you do next?”. And Desire Obtain Cherish, who had been a creative director for a big fashion brand perplexed the interviewer: “Sex!”. “What are you talking about? Sex is everywhere in fashion. Half naked people on magazine billboards”. And the artist in reply: “No, sex is the only thing that fashion can’t literally sell. If Gucci sould sell sex, people would buy it. If Tom Ford sold blow-up dolls I would surely buy one”.
And one night to a friend, who was tired of the boyfriend that she had told him about and who thought she could find something better, “You want to get rid of him because you’re bored”, was his answer, and she, finally free of what was weighing her down, “Oh, yes, the world is so big. Next please”. This was a dinner that inspired his creations based on lollipops, you suck on one, you take another, metaphor for today’s relationships. Irreverent and original, and Joan, someone who doesn’t settle for what is trivial, knows this. Artists like this come to you, because they know who you are what you think, or it’s you who goes to them, opening the doors wide. Joan’s are emerging artists or ones that are at a half-way point in their career, whose work is “unique, emotional, with brilliant and audacious colors”, a bit like that of Desire Obtain Cherish, who under his big sunglasses and metropolitan hood is actually Jonathan Paul: “His work, with his use of lucid and vivacious colors, is aesthetically beautiful”. And then his irony on drugged love for fashion, with those “powerful and recognizable brands”, the blister packs full of Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel pills, swallowed as if they were Advil and Tylenol. Fashion is a drug and only Desire Obtain Cherish could laugh about contemporary society’s vices, where you’re nobody if you don’t walk around with huge Louis Vuitton glasses, Gucci jewels, Hermès bags, if you don’t spray yourself with Chanel, if you don’t dress with Yves Saint Laurent and rather than leaving the house without these you stay locked in your home.
Once an unripe starlet, who later inspired him to create Judy purple poppies, landed in his studio: “All this making paintings with pills of yours is absolutely obsessive, I don’t understand where you find the patience”. And he, making fun of that petulant guest: “I conducted a research on celebrities, poets, and artists that died of drug use, discovering how many pills and needles they had taken, killing them. There, that number is the exact number that I used for making these paintings”. And that little starlet, with eyes rolling over the tens of thousands of plastic pills spread around the studio: “Wow! I only take the ones that my therapist prescribes”. Marvelous! Even in this, Joan tells us, color play apart, Jonathan Paul is “a truly unique artist. He puts things into you using these techniques, hitting you with social criticism. An example? The half-eaten lollipops, that make us reflect on a wasteful society, that throws food away, relationships. It reminds us of our faults and we, smiling, admit to them”.
Joan then remembers the success of the works she showed at Scope Basel 2013, like Addicted at birth, Amy fuck never, a pop portrait of Amy Winehouse, and Basquiat punched, pop as well, homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat, friend of Andy Warhol and leading exponent of american graft: “It aroused a whole lot of interest”. And if in Basel an advertising flyer was circulated, the experiment was repeated in San Francisco. The invitation for #sideeffects wasn’t bad as a lure with that The McLoughlin gallery welcomes you to the opening night reception for Los Angeles based artist DESIRE OBTAIN CHERISH’s solo show in San Francisco on a grey background and with The Path riches, the work with a Hollywood red carpet, golden plaques and white gloves that sweep across in front. In San Francisco, in suite 200 at 49 Geary Street, you walk on the red carpet and you enter, star for a day, finding yourself in front of pop portraits with Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, the sleeping girl in Judy purple poppies, the black boxer of Basquiat punched.
And again the rosary necklace of Carpe mundum, the one with grass hockey balls and sticks; Gucci’s bejeweled handcuffs; the frame of Short term memory with the canvas that slips away; the little soldier in Soldier skater; the jew in The critic and The investor in front of a canvas with lots of embellishments; the naked candy woman in plastic candy wrapper with a red bow; the lollipops; the lipstick of All the good ones are gay; the Chanel pills, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton; the purple and scratching nails of Omg. I caught him wearing underwear again; the acrylic colors of Mouthwatering matters reign of Adderall, Prozac, Viagra; the lady with swollen breasts in Daty 1 with that turquoise brushstroke that transforms into a mouth that comes closer to suck those inviting nipples; the heretic chocolate crosses, the green one, mint flavored, light brown, milk, dark, bitter: the Family Jewels, the Gucci family jewels, in reality a banana, phallic symbol, inside a metallic case supported by little black leather ropes with lots of little studs; the little black girl in The problems we all live with, walking around with a white dress with a train and with a microphone, escorted by four gorillas with a yellow crime scene band on their arms, on a celebrity red carpet; the towers made with pieces of wood of Feeling romantic. You look at them in front and you read Feeling romantic, you go to the back and you read Flaming erection and you want to say that you feel romantic, when really it’s something else that you feel. And then, the big monkey with binoculars that looks down the road with a sign that reads Looks like zombies from here; the teddy bear on the background of chipboard who with big tender eyes holds up a sign to tell you that he’s dumb and happy; the orange sign of Left with for rights and that of Watch your dub step and, inevitable, almost as if it were a metropolitan must, the shopping cart of Less is more full of tied bags, newspapers, little flags, drapes, frames, empty cans.
This is Jonathan Paul, class of 1975, californian from Salinas, a bachelor’s degree at Parson’s School of Design, a street artist in the past, with an eye for pop culture and modern day society’s obsessions for sex, drugs, celebrities, fame, commerce. An art, his, that makes of desire, that which turns dreams into dependency, his favorite target. Desire Obtain Cherish, are there still doubts as to why Jonathan Paul chose this name?
Desire Obtain Cherish, #sideeffects
The McLoughlin Gallery
49 Geary Street, Suite 200, San Francisco (CA)
July 11th — August 31st, 2013