“Waltz,” featuring a symphony of bright acrylic paintings by Japeth Mennes on view at 65GRAND, serves as a celebration of color and form integrated harmoniously as each painting leaps from the walls and cements itself as a buzzing afterimage in the viewer’s mind.
Lined up uniformly along the west wall of the gallery is Mennes’ series “Laundromat.” Nine acrylic depictions of washing machines reduced to a pure series of shapes remain motionless on the wall. Each includes a different arrangement of colors which are identified in their individual titles, six from a straight-on position and three slightly pivoted to the right, giving a glimpse of dimension. Consuming each piece one at a time reads static, like a washing machine suspended mid-cycle. Stepping back and absorbing the series as an ensemble reveals the movement generated from each painting. The buzzing colors against the stark white wall creates a visually vibrating chorus of washing machines in use, rapidly whipping and working as the viewer observes. “Laundromat” is a sublime example of Mennes’ ability to enthusiastically animate by strategically distilling an object down to only essential, skeletal details.
On the opposite wall, “Shutters (Yellow, Naples, Ochre)” depicts recognizable shutters through a simplified amalgamation of lines and shape. The piece sits at a proud twenty-six-by-seventeen inches, which invites the viewer in to interrogate each individual plane of yellow that fills the canvas. Upon close investigation, not a single hiccup of a paintbrush can be found. Each layer is expertly applied, unblemished and undisturbed. Enchanting and energizing, the resulting bouquet of yellows beams onto the viewer’s face, and is consumed by the pores on their skin rather than their eyes.
In “Stationery (Prussian, Orange, Purple),” a stack of six sheets of paper, three-hole punched on the right side, descends from top left to bottom right. The background is dark, nearly black, and the skewed stack is authoritatively pushed forward by a strong cream outline. This piece demonstrates Mennes’ expertise in color theory, as each chosen hue pulsates off from one another. “Stationery (Ochre, Vermillion, Prussian)” offers the same study of form but with a different arrangement of color, this time with a clementine peel background. Mennes offers profound emphasis on how integral color is to our reception, because though the two paintings are the same structurally, they read entirely differently from one another.
Located on two different upper-right corners of the gallery are “Security Camera (Prussian, Red, Verona)” and “Security Camera (Prussian, Red, Verona).” Both paintings are exact copies with differing colors, a concept of Mennes’ that the viewer is now familiar with, depicting simplified structural interrogations of security cameras. The lenses of the cameras, circles with sharp backdrop shadows and two diagonal lines representing their reflective glean, sit at the head of an elongated, shoebox-like rectangle camera body. The cord is represented by a symmetrical “S” shape. These pieces establish a sense of play that reverberates across the rest of the exhibition.
In “Waltz,” Mennes welcomes the viewer into a world composed of flat planes of color and strictly two-dimensional perception. Through each acrylic iteration, Mennes reveals the multitude of conflicting emotions, tangible depth, sense of humor, and suspended movement that can be born from this restricted style, and allows viewers to experience color as if for the first time.
Japeth Mennes’ “Waltz” at 65Grand, 3252 West North, on view through May 27.