Edward Cella Art & Architecture, is pleased to present Fail Better, the gallery’s first solo show from Los Angeles based artist Lester Monzon. Representing a progression in his exploration of graphs and expressive gestures; Monzon illustrates concepts of historical painting techniques and destroys and rebuilds areas of the painting that once were there. Through playing with graphs, abstractions and erasures he questions where mental liberation and freedom can exist in a structured existence.
The graphs in his paintings denote organization, a pre-determined system or order which call to mind data or rules. Monzon says, “The graph is something that’s in order. You fall in line, you fall in line with everything, everything has their place, and everyone pays taxes.” He works on his compositions tirelessly, like a required day job. After drawing the graph, he not only paints and illustrates the abstractions, but also he also writes secret messages to himself in oil paint. These messages are often self-depreciating words and phrases; however, these messages never make it to the viewer as Monzon inevitably erases the words. Since oil paint takes a long time to dry; this operation provides Monzon an opportunity to sit with the phrases for a time, to ponder and daydream about them.
The title of the exhibition, Fail Better, are also the words Monzon has tattooed on his arm. An appropriation from the Samuel Beckett story Worstward Ho; Beckett writes, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The words place value on process and failure over results and success. Perhaps, personal liberation truly exists in a Monzon painting in his process, his isolated moments of waiting, thinking and destroying.
By collapsing architecture, space and art history, Lester Monzon's work dissects the notion of context. Monzon upends the formalism and segregation innate to the fine art world, and he fabricates a composite genealogy of painting - a pithy resolution to an otherwise vapid debate. Monzon's luscious brushstrokes slyly creep into a Hirst-esque field of dots or Noland-like plane of stripes; these appropriations are a resurrection of a once-declared dead practice through the artist’s satirical hand. In his recent work, Monzon applies this critique of contextual art to mark-making in public spaces: be it graffiti on tiles in a public bathroom, stains on the sidewalk, or the popularized notion of "street art." Lester Monzon (b. 1973, Brooklyn, NY) received his B.F.A. from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. His work has been exhibited at the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art at Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga; Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles; Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles; Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles in addition to shows in San Francisco and Chicago. His work has been covered and reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Artforum, and Artillery. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Monzon lives and works in Los Angeles.