Monday, January 21, 2008

Art Lust: KMNDZ

I've been lusting after one of KMNDZ's retro-bio-mechanical creations for a while now. KMNDZ, aka Johnny Rodriguez, is an extremely talented Los Angeles artist who paints weatherbeaten, suffering steampunk robots and mysterious mechanical devices with street-art style and masterly technique.

I'm hoping that he'll have something that's up my alley at his Thinkspace show in October. So far, these are my favorites of his, "Picking Fruit" and "Growth." What I respond to in these two pieces in particular (as opposed to his other work, all of which is excellent) is their sense of mood and story.

In "Picking Fruit," there is a sense of loneliness and despair, as if this tarnished creature has been wandering an abandoned, blasted landscape for aeons, searching for something to love. It's also a snapshot of a moment in time, catching a momentary gesture of frustration in an empty life. Thought it has a lot of style, there's also a tremendous depth of story behind it. It's both terrible and beautiful.

Once again, "Growth" catches a moment – this time, a suprising, perhaps shocking, discovery. We peer through an oval window or lens, half-submerged in a blood-red sea. Our lens is still beaded with moisture from its submersion, and bubbles fizz around us from some unseen source. We have come upon a strange artifact, an ancient mine tethered to something deep beneath the water by a monstrous chain. The mine has been in place so long that it has become its own eco-system, a miniature desert island in a sea of ichor. Though it is only an object, it somehow evokes feelings of loneliness and abandonment. During its endless sentry duty in this liquid desert, it seems to have evolved into a lifeform of its own, and even resembles a severed, beating heart. The way this painting places its viewer in the position of first person in its mysterious story makes it especially compelling.

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