Opening reception - Saturday, February 18th, 6pm-9pm
February 18, 2006
through March 18, 2006
New York, NY January 2006 – After taking over a year and a half off for the birth of his first baby, artist Jeff Soto has returned to his studio to create nearly twenty-five works for his solo exhibition, Supernova, opening on Saturday, February 18th from 6pm-9pm at Jonathan LeVine Gallery. The exhibition will be on view through March 18th, 2006. Soto transplants his magical world onto the Chelsea gallery walls with paintings on wood, including a panel spanning twelve feet long, and works on paper. An installation of paintings, photographs, and found objects will also be on view.
Influenced by current events and how they relate to fatherhood, Soto describes his new work as darker and more serious: “I’ve been thinking about what’s going on over in Iraq and the way we live on this planet. I’m thinking about the future of my child. My daughter could go to war someday and that’s a frightening thought.” Environmental issues also take precedent for Soto, who is concerned with conflict of humans trying to harness, or take advantage of nature. His paintings exude this tension, as robotic creatures duel, organic tentacles and flower bouquets thrive, and black smog looms amidst floating, ominous skulls.
Through striking visual imagery, Soto communicates profound visions and fears, nostalgia of his youth, and themes of love, lust, and hope. “I’m putting out good work that I’m proud of,” reflects Soto, “Some of my works in the past have been disguised technically with collage and drips, but now they are more pure painting. Imagery has more importance to me, with subtle differences stylistically.” Soto’s distinct color palette, subject matter, technique and bold themes resonate with a growing audience. Inspired by toys such as transformers, the colorful lifestyle of skateboarding and graffiti, hip-hop and popular culture, Soto’s representational work is simultaneously accessible and stimulating.
“Potato Stamp Dreams” will become a reality for art and culture lovers on Sunday, February 19th from 4pm-7pm at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, when graffiti-inspired artist Jeff Soto appears for an exclusive book signing event, held in conjunction with his solo exhibition, Supernova. An impressive compilation of works from the prolific artist, the book includes installations, graffiti and photography. The 160 page hardbound edition, published by Murphy Design and released in August of 2005, features a poster fold out, double-sided dust jacket, embossed cloth cover and a limited edition 48 page mini Potato Stamp Soto zine. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the book signing and can purchase “Potato Stamp Dreams” on-site, or pre-order copies on www.jonathanlevinegallery.com.
“Potato Stamp Dreams” is an extension of Jeff Soto’s imaginative world. Named after his first solo show in September 2001 at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, “Potato Stamp Dreams” signifies a milestone for Soto’s outstanding growth as an artist. Soto describes the origin: “I got the title thinking about how we take things out of nature and use them for mechanized processes, like mining metals to make machinery, or chopping down trees to make toothpicks. Potato stamps are tubers pulled out of the dirt and sculpted by man to do a repetitive job. For good or bad, we take advantage of what nature has to offer.”
When approached by publisher and designer Mark Murphy to collaborate on the book, Soto explained, “From the start my intentions were to tell a story and take the viewer on a journey rather than just show the artwork. I wanted people to get a feel for where I’m coming from and what my inspirations are.” What began as a sample layout of Soto’s ideas developed into creative exploration for both designer and artist and, ultimately, a collection that inspires and intrigues the reader. Through “Potato Stamp Dreams,” we learn a bit more about Jeff Soto and how his art connects his early inspirations and memories. “An important aspect of my work is nostalgia,” explains Soto, “showing what I did as a kid and how that shapes who I am as an adult.”
Themes of beauty, destruction, and nature versus machine are beautifully captured in this impressive collection. Subtle nuances make the book unique, such as photographs of Soto as a young child. The rounded edges and yellowish hues of Soto’s photographs blend seamlessly with his signature color palette and painted wooden panels. Elements of nostalgia weave throughout his collages on panel, which are highlighted through the stunning reproductions and lush details.
In addition to receiving both national and international acclaim and exhibiting in top galleries across the country, Soto has illustrated for record companies, skateboard magazines, book publishers and advertisers. His client list includes Sony Music, Warner Bros., Wired, Entertainment Weekly, Disney Adventures and Outside Magazine. He has been featured in fine art and popular culture publications including, Artweek, Juxtapoz, American Illustration, Communication Arts, Beautiful Decay, and Lodown Magazine. In 2002, Soto graduated with Distinction from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He currently lives in Riverside, California, with his wife Jennifer and newborn baby, Shannon.