Vibrant color, balance, many textured
images, and the lyric movement of the dance artist Monjett
Representing a ten-year retrospective of Graham’s
best work, a current exhibit on display locally moves
from his earlier almost flat surface paintings to the
multi-layered mixed media collages he creates today
– the animated, satirical, wildly clad series,
the powerful abstractions of “Shiva”, “Power
Lunch and “ Condominium”.
In the creative dissonance of Graham’s divergent
styles and transitions, the viewer is offered a glimpse
of modern art at its most eclectic and original –
art that is light years removed from the clichés
and pretensions encountered all too frequently, even
in our leading galleries and museums.
Appropriately entitled “light and Rhythm, 1992”
Graham’s latest collection reflects his lifelong
preoccupation with music and dance, which began, he
says in his Nebraska childhood.
“My father was a Jazz and Blues man. My mother
was a classical pianist. Our home was always saturated
with music of all kinds as far back as I can remember.
For me it became the natural inspiration for expressing
myself in my paintings,” Graham, recalled from
his Sausalito studio.
That relationship between his love of music
and the persona in his art was developed further
still when Graham arrived in San Francisco and went to work
for the San Francisco Opera Company as a scenic artist.
However, the evocative collages of “Music America”
came much later, after his move thirteen year ago to
Marin County. To create these collages, Graham juxtaposes
found objects, metal, pieces of clothing; oil-based
house paints producing three-dimensional images that
step forward to the beat of a drum. In “Music
Awards” a figure in “funky chicken”
pose, guitar in hand smiles out from under an outlandish
hat, his white glove and black boot protruding from
the canvas. The “Rap Saxophone” player moves
to a 19th century “hoedown” – the
music almost audible. These pieces represent, essentially,
the extroverted expressions of the artist. They evoke
from the viewer a joyous amusement.
It is from Graham’s other work, intense urban
abstractions, that the artist’s deeper vision,
the complex inner music emerges. The outline of buildings,
the visual suggestion of cities is present, but we notice
this only in passing. It is the inner rhythm of the
city that explodes in the color, the movement, the juxtaposition
of materials, and the painted motion that the artist
has achieved. Through the monochromatic red on red “Shiva”,
(the strongest painting in the collection), an archetypal
energy moves with a pulsating beat. It is not the figurative
Shiva, not the Lord of the Dance that appears. It is
the dance itself, as novelist, Paul Scott described,
“…in a circle of cosmic fire, the circle
of creation and destruction, of dark and light and wholeness.”
Monjett Graham’s “Light and Rhythm 1992”
is now on exhibit through March 15 at the Gallery Piazza,
819 Bridgeway, Sausalito.
Back to Articles
MonjettGraham.com. eBusiness Services by Concepts & Solutions.