Small Map of Heaven
With his abiding materials of gouache on paper, Jonny Negron has developed a distinct mise-en-scène in his work. Picking up from the efficacy of comic books and Japanese woodblock printing, Negron’s individual works appear as suspended moments, plump with the suggestion of wider narratives but completely contained within themselves. Negron’s scenarios tend to be populated by figures, furnished with foliage and lodged with debris. He depicts moments of physical and symbolic exchange, overlaying socio-political satire with preternatural symbolism. As introduced by the title of the exhibition, Negron works with the idea that the human form represents an exact miniature of the universe. In the human form, Negron sites the potential for allegory, motioning towards something beyond the individual subjects he conjures in his pictures. The figures in his work engage in exuberant, agitated, fraught relations. There is a persistent suggestion of ritual in their behavior: the social ritual of going to the club, the physical rituals of self-grooming, or mystic and occult rituals. Increasingly, Negron renders these figures alone in moments of disarmed intimacy with themselves: a replete bodybuilder injecting supplements, a nude figure in a syrupy bathroom with a mirror catching the reflection of a teary eye. Across eleven works on paper at Château Shatto, Negron conveys a double-edged fecundity: both the abundance of thriving, living things and a surfeit of trash, an overflow of material and emotional refuse. The works themselves appear to be in possession of their own atmosphere or climate. They are irriguous, and depending on the dosage, either satisfyingly hydrated or disturbingly drenched.