Now on view at Merry Karnowsky Gallery in Los Angeles, Johnny ‘KMNDZ’ Rodriguez and Nicola Verlato’s dual exhibitions paint uniquely personal pictures of conflict. There is no universal definition of what it means to struggle; whether we are emotionally conflicted with ourselves, or there is some form of friction between cultural groups, as in Verlato’s works. Interestingly, both artists portray this with symbols of weaponry. KMNDZ’s “I’d Rather Love You” addresses his personal struggles over 5 years. His mounted sculpture and paintings of bombs are not an anti-war message, but rather they represent a deeper, psychological destruction. In their wake, nature meets machine as hummingbirds take a rest on rusty robots and flowers bloom out of grenades. Rodriguez shares, “On the surface you can say the message is about restraint as a reaction to both physical and psychological destructiveness. It is about what I believe is the necessary response to negative actions – understanding opposite perspectives and responding in love and kindness.”
Nicola Verlato stages his interpretation of conflict with a Western narrative in “Conquest of the West.” Verlato’s 2012 exhibition “How the West Was Won” featured a painting of the same name, where a cowboy, representing monotheism, shoots and kills a Native American woman, polytheism. Here, in these smaller portraits, Verlato zooms in to focus on the emotional intensity of the scene, in his Contemporary-Baroque art style. Their epic battle is mapped out in meticulously cross hatched sketches, also on display, in addition to the cast of a future-resin figure of a dying settler. It accompanies his largest piece in the show, of Native American warriors pinning the settler to a tree. For Verlato, conflict is at the core of Western progress which perseveres as structures and towns are built in the background. View more of Johnny ‘KMNDZ’ Rodriguez & Nicola Verlato’s new works below.
“I’d Rather Love You” by Johnny ‘KMNDZ’ Rodriguez and “Conquest of the West” by Nicola Verlato are on view at Merry Karnowsky Gallery through March 7.