Gallery: Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Artist(s): Angel Vergara
Opening / Event Date: 18 Nov, 2023
Closing / End Date: 16 Mar, 2024
WOAW Gallery Presents Pink Diamond Too by Jonathan Casella
Exhibition Period: October 27 – November 23, 2023
Exhibition Venue: G07, The Galleria, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong
WOAW Gallery is pleased to debut Jonathan Casella’s Pink Diamond Too. This is Casella’s first solo exhibition in Asia and marks the gallery’s first exhibition with the artist. The exhibition showcases Casella’s personal experiences and reflections, depicted through his ongoing Doublestar series, and paintings that incorporate carefully selected found images and photography of flowers from California. Featuring 11 artworks that he created this year, Pink Diamond Too will be on view from October 27 – November 23, 2023, at WOAW Gallery Central.
Pink Diamond Too showcases Casella’s work as a whole when two serialized bodies become one as paintings from the artist’s ongoing Doublestar series are framed within the narrative of his syntactic and vernacularly driven abstract works. As the title suggests, the color pink overtly connects the works in Pink Diamond Too, but Casella’s ability to subvert our logic, utilizes the color pink to entrance us and divert us into his playground. The pink diamond is at once a concrete object of desire and an abstract concept, though the line between its existences blurs. It is iconoclastically a rare gem studded throughout the zeitgeist and fed into the culture as a beacon of achievement while simultaneously losing its splendor once attained, failing in its intended promise. It is also the kind of diamond whose pink origin cannot be agreed upon by gemologists who are presented with a myriad of right answers, so much that they cannot rely on any one of them to be certainly true.
Casella’s pink doused paintings are a current of color, form, and imagery that ferry us like a perfume leading us to its source as we sift through its notes. Weaving our own connections throughout the room, we find ourselves triangulating occurrences, marks, images, shapes, patterns, and hues within each painting and amongst them, to decipher the metaphor of the author of the work, but by this point Casella has slyly involved us in the narrative. Assembled together as they are here, Casella’s paintings are a stable of information that then becomes ours to parse, and in a sense our own empirical data to translate.
While all of the paintings in Pink Diamond Too share attributes in the logic of their making, they each are self-contained in an approachable scale that emphasizes their jewel-like refraction of their densely configured content. The reduced scale is important for the works as they also begin to feel like windows or portals making us feel as though we can move into and out of them as well as laterally between works, by virtue of the mark-making that Casella flourishes with dexterity.
In Casella’s Doublestar paintings, the use of an abstracted but identifiable shape and semblance of frame are almost image-like, yet as the marks upon its surface are scanned, the viewer becomes drawn to its components, causing an oscillation or vibration back and forth between the holistic image and its particles. Alongside the flush of color that guides the viewer through the show, Casella’s style of mark-making is abound in each work, contextualizing the works from different series side by side and drawing us as much across the walls as we are drawn across each painting’s surface.
Casella’s ever-evolving lexicon is a collection of details of vivid colors, jagged shapes, soft edges, and images from his personal relationships, iconography, and environment. Painted imagery of photographic images, logo-like designs, and hand-drawn characters appear to sit side by side with expanses of colors, polka dots, grids, starbursts, stripes, and erratic hard-edged lines. These all congregate in Casella’s narrative abstractions leading to compositions where he has carefully and strategically arranged photographic images in a layout akin to a comic strip — suggesting a sideways legibility. We are made by this layout to feel as if a plot will unfold, however, its structure is obstructed by impeding color and pattern that within the paintings command the same urgency. These impediments, though, do not serve to stop the story, but rather to infer that the story is composed of elements not just in descriptive pictures, but also of external influences.
Pink diamonds though real and naturally occurring are very elusive, and in their rarity exist as nearly an abstract concept. From Lil Uzi Vert’s infamously ripped out pink diamond face piercing (for which he saved a small fortune), to the name of the cursed, flawed jewel in the Pink Panther pantheon, that is often the focus of mischievous effort to acquire it, the pink diamond while at the center of aspiration and lust, remains just a rock. It is the way that the mind is activated through suggestion and influence that we come to symbolize the gem as an object of desire. In this way Casella’s paintings, subversively tricky in their making, remain paint, but it’s in Casella’s deft handling of the material and content that they become for us pink diamonds too.
Text by Edwin Arzeta