Informed by his interest in art history, critical theory, and culture, Monrow’s work features bon mots and apothegms ranging in tone from the sardonic to the polemical. Playing off the staidness of traditional visual genres (a quality typically reflected in the titles of paintings, for example), the humor in his work stems in part from an attempt to visualize abstract ideas, paradoxes, and malapropisms.
Contrasting a droll urbanity with earnest functionalism, Monrow’s work is presented in readymade industrial signage formats, such as “café boards,” and neon. Heavily influenced by the prose of the late New York bohemian poet, René Ricard, Monrow has always gravitated toward text in his work. A strong admirer of political text-based artists such as Jenny Holzer and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and conceptual artists Lawrence Weiner and Joseph Kosuth, Monrow creates his own socio/political hybrid within this art historic tradition. Working with three possible options for his café boards (18 x 12 inches, 14 x 18 inches, or 22 x 15 inches) the amount of text, and line breaks, are determined by these physical parameters.
Each work in Absurdist Logic acts as a call to arms, a small, domestically scaled monument to truth. Monrow’s use of fragmented verse conveys substantial ideas in a very digestible, poetic format. Monrow’s otherwise quotidian signage, paired with his purposeful aesthetic choices (be it a beautiful patina, a playful mix of pastels, or a formal use of black and white) create a socially conscious, avant-garde body of work that allows viewers to easily devour the artist’s clever turns of phrase. For this exhibition, Monrow has worked in bronze for the first time, giving literal weight to his phrases. Referring to placards usually reserved for historic designations on buildings, or other “important” information, Monrow has cast the most urgent and timely statements in either matte black or gold-polished bronze. One bronze sign reads, “Twas Never About Restrooms Just Like It Was Never About Water Fountains,” which draws a parallel between racial injustice and sexual prejudice, but also speaks on the persistence of both in America today.