Give a Dog a Bad Name and Hang Him
May 11 – June 22, 2019
Opening Reception: May 11, 6-9 pm
Ever Gold [Projects] presents Give a Dog a Bad Name and Hang Him, the gallery’s second solo exhibition with Los Angeles based artist Mario Ayala. Featuring airbrushed paintings on canvas and works on paper, this new body of work employs a type of figurative language in which elements coordinate and contradict themselves narratively and spatially. Ayala applies this figurative language to social histories, exploring representations of brownness and Latinx identity within the field of painting, and in the way visual representations are able to echo a discursive reality.
Ayala’s paintings combine sensibilities, connecting disparate images and aesthetic gestures. Ayala credits his father as his primary influence, as he grew up watching him work on cars and motorcycles, and receiving ballpoint pen drawings from him as gifts when he returned home from work as a truck driver. Attending car shows and swap meets in Los Angeles, Ayala was exposed to a variety of painting techniques that are distinct from traditional art world methods: car painting and airbrushing are the artist’s earliest and most poignant references for creative expression. Ayala utilizes these familiar techniques and images in ways that are distinct from their original applications—as a simplified example, Ayala utilizes auto-body painting techniques designed to emphasize or reinforce the physical structure of a car in ways that distort and transform his subjects, or applies the techniques to objects that do not typically garner this kind of elevating treatment.
Although arguably not breaking news, it seems reasonable to reinforce here: Latinx creative endeavors—in music, visual art, tattooing, car culture, and many other areas—permeate popular culture in the U.S. more and more thoroughly, both autonomously and through widespread cultural appropriation. Ayala’s work can be seen as a kind of reclamation with twists, as it embraces iconic images and stylistic gestures while suggesting that these structures are much larger and more dynamic than a common pop cultural representation might convey. Ayala is similarly interested in visual representations of translation and the slippages that can occur with language. In a painting titled Insurance Claim, a sad old dog is seen busting through a steering wheel with text reading “GUYCO” instead of “GEICO,” making reference to the complexity of translation and to Los Angeles’s particular bootleg culture in which counterfeit items attain validation in their own right, both as reasonable stand-ins for authentic items and as mashups that harness the impact of high end branding in the creation of new hybrid forms.
Ayala deconstructs and expands common perceptions of his chosen categories of images and aesthetics, offering enough of the original material to represent the traditions from which these forms originate while recasting images and techniques in new roles. Hybridizing images and uniting the incongruous, Ayala builds a visual language capable of mirroring the physical and social transformations of the landscape; Ayala’s compositions are only as strange and layered as the world we live in.
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Mario Ayala (b. 1991, Los Angeles, California) works primarily in painting but also in sculpture. Ayala graduated from The San Francisco Art Institute in 2014, where he received the Yale Norfolk fellowship in 2012. He was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2014. Recent exhibitions include Shooby Doo Lang Doo Lang Dong at Stems Gallery, Brussels (solo, 2019); Give a Dog a Bad Name and Hang Him at Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco (solo, 2019); Gold Standard at Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco (2019); AUT Of Body at Loyal Gallery, Stockholm (solo, 2018); Sun Sprawl at Club Pro Los Angeles (2018); Pen Pal at Ever Gold [Projects], San Francisco (solo, 2017); Seasoned And Embarrassed Like A Wet Dog at SADE, Los Angeles (solo, 2017); Welcome To The Left Coast at The Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco (2016); Summer Group Show at Hashimoto Contemporary, San Francisco (2016); The House Of Special Purpose at 99¢ Plus Gallery, Brooklyn (2016); Something Completely Different at City Limits, Oakland (2014); 5 Year Anniversary at Ever Gold Gallery, San Francisco (2014); Locals Only at RVSF, San Francisco (2014); and Give + Take at Adobe Books, San Francisco (2013). Ayala lives and works in Los Angeles. A solo exhibition at Marlborough, New York is forthcoming (Spring 2020). Ayala will also be featured in the 2020 edition of Made in L.A., the Hammer Museum's biennial exhibition.
The New York Times: Latinx Artists Explain Their Process
Juxtapoz: Mario Ayala’s Airbrush Technique on Display @ Ever Gold Projects
Dazed: Latinx: art angels
Flaunt Magazine: Mario Ayala
San Francisco Chronicle: Ayala’s ‘Pen Pal’ exhibition has themes of prison, family
KQED: Cy and David’s Picks: Tenting in London with Occupy, Prison Pen Pals, and Broken Hearts in Paris
Creators Project: Airbrushed Paintings Portray the Isolation and Heartbreak of Mass Incarceration