Tonight from 6-10 pm at the Jupiter Hotel (800 E Burnside), local painter Zach Johnsen and Japanese import Mhak will be unveiling a collaborative mural they've been working on for the past few weeks.
Johnsen and Mhak began working together last year, when Compound Gallery's Matt Wagner paired them up for Strange Bedfellows— an exhibit coupling artists from Portland and Japan for blind collaborations.
A year later to the month, and the two painters are once again showing together at Compound (107 NW 5th), in Spirit Flyer, where collabs and solo works by the artists are on view through June 30. Despite language barriers and the standard awkwardness that comes with getting to know someone creatively, the duo produced some phenomenally visceral work:
While the joint efforts are strong ones, the solo works in Spirit Flyer felt half-empty next to the collaborations. Without embellishment, Mhak repeats a motif of daisy-chained clouds on each canvas, while Johnsen explores a 'flowers exploding from dead things' theme (specifically, flowers emitted from skulls, or from people entombed in blankets and rugs— adding up to a death-begets-life message).
All that said, Johnsen and Mhak's mural at the Jupiter is a welcome commemoration of their time spent painting together here in town, and if you don't get chance to see it tonight, look for it next time you're walking up Burnside.
And while on the subject of Compound, a quick side note: This Saturday from 7-10 pm, the folks at Compound are bringing in local painter and commercial designer Blaine Fontana, who'll be showing two panel-based installations made up of over 120 paintings. I checked out the installations this past Friday night at Fontana's studio, located in the North Coast Seed Building. The body of work, titled All Of Me In Pieces, provides a fragmented view into Fontana's career of post-graf surrealism and commercial design work— bits of an illustration of bamboo here, wallpaper-ish floral designs there, abstract patterns peppered around— suggesting many scrambled pixels in a maybe-whole composition. Fontana's work will be up through the end of the month.
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