Jon Pylypchuk Exorcises His Ghosts

3 months ago 4

LOS ANGELES — Jon Pylypchuk is haunted by ghosts. I’ve Got Love for You, the artist’s existent amusement astatine the ArtCenter College of Design’s Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery, is anchored by a dime-store campfire set-up framed by furry trees and a chorus of pillowcase ghosts suspended from above. Tapestries made from carpet scraps bent connected the walls, each depicting a wide-eyed, alien-like fig surrounded by apparitions fashioned from gym socks. Bronze casts of insubstantial bags with oculus holes cut-outs connection a simple, refined instrumentality connected his scrappy DIY style, an effort to immortalize the ephemeral and fleeting.

Mortality has agelong been a changeless taxable successful Pylypchuk’s work, but this latest presumption deals with circumstantial losses and loves successful his life; namely, his narration with his woman and the decease of his adjacent person Tony Fernandez successful 2020. In summation to the ocular artworks, Pylypchuk composed a fistful of achingly earnest lo-fi popular songs past year, which helium performed with a tiny set seated astir the campfire astatine the ArtCenter’s opening and volition reprise astatine the closing successful August. He has wrestled with his friend’s decease for the past 3 years and channeled that grief successful different caller shows, but the process of songwriting, thing helium hasn’t done for 3 decades, has provided a benignant of catharsis, lightening the value of that nonaccomplishment each truthful slightly.

“I fig I’m going to discontinue the ghosts aft this,” helium told Hyperallergic soon earlier the amusement opened past month. “There’s been a batch of ghosts lately.” 

Exhibition view, I’ve Got Love for You (photo © Gene Ogami; courtesy ArtCenter)

Throughout his career, Pylypchuk’s enactment has revolved around mortality, abjection, losers, loners, the fragility and strangeness of life, portraying it each with a premix of wit and sadness, pathos and the pathetic, arsenic ArtCenter’s writer-in-residence Chris Kraus notes successful an effort accompanying the show. Using spray foam, lightbulbs, and an assortment of mundane items and detritus, his constructions radiate property and quality acold exceeding their system of means. “No substance the media, Pylypchuk’s radical are us: lumbering bundles of feeling and flesh, making our mode done the satellite connected pencil-thin legs that still, somehow, enactment us,” Kraus writes.

As overmuch arsenic “Pylypchuk’s radical are us,” they are besides him, sad-sack slacker self-portraits that blend tender intimacy with cartoonish slapstick, worldly curiosity, and bodily revulsion. Growing up successful Winnipeg, Canada, helium didn’t mean to go an artist. He played successful bands passim the mid-1990s earlier realizing helium “wasn’t precise bully astatine it.” He studied Economics, past English astatine the University of Manitoba, winding up connected world probation aft astir flunking out. His friend, the creator Paul Cherwick, suggested Pylypchuk articulation him successful creation school.

“’How hard tin creation be, right?’” Pylypchuk thought astatine the time. “I didn’t person immoderate benignant of a inheritance successful art, truthful I didn’t cognize that determination was thing to it. There were nary rules,” helium recalls. “It was precise liberating … to not cognize that I’m doing everything wrong.” With music, helium had dreams of becoming a stone star, but with ocular art, helium simply “didn’t deliberation anybody would care.”

At creation school, helium fell successful with the Royal Art Lodge, a radical of Canadian artists including Marcel Dzama and Neil Farber who prioritized camaraderie, collaboration, and an irreverent, darkly comic attack to artmaking. Far removed from the planetary creator centers, they reveled successful their provincial, underdog status. 

Jon Pylypchuk, “i’m covered successful stones without you” (2023), recovered entity rug with fake fur, 60 x 96 inches (photo © Gene Ogami; courtesy the creator and Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles

After graduating successful 1997, helium entered the MFA programme astatine UCLA, wherever helium recovered a radical of kindred spirits successful the emerging creation country based astir a clump of young galleries successful LA’s Chinatown. He archetypal met Tony Fernandez, who performed songs nether the moniker Mr. Banjo astatine Joel Mesler’s Dianne Preuss Gallery, successful 1999. “He’s a large songwriter and I loved his songs truthful overmuch I would travel him astir similar a small puppy and yet helium decided helium wanted to enactment a afloat set together,” Pylypchuk remembers. He joined connected bass, and they would play respective times a week astatine Hop Louie, a legendary now-defunct Chinatown watering spread that was an early-aughts Angeleno mentation of NY’s Cedar Tavern.

Around the aforesaid time, helium had his archetypal amusement with seminal Chinatown assemblage China Art Objects, which helium continued to amusement with until they decamped for Merida, Mexico successful 2015, aft which Pylypchuk was picked up successful LA by Nino Mier. Three months earlier his postgraduate thesis amusement successful 2001, the creator had his archetypal solo amusement with Petzel Gallery successful New York. While helium has had depository shows successful Detroit, Münster, and Montréal, I’ve Got Love for You is his archetypal organization solo amusement successful LA, suggesting his presumption arsenic a benignant of insider/outsider. (He had a two-part solo depository show astatine the Blaffer Gallery successful Houston and Ausstellungshalle zeitgenossische Kunst Münster successful Germany successful 2009.)

Alongside his ocular creation career, helium continued to marque euphony with Fernandez, astir notably successful KISK, a spot-on Kiss screen set supposedly from Russia that performed successful afloat Kiss look paint. Fernandez passed distant unexpectedly successful July 2020 aft suffering a bosom onslaught astatine his home. He had texted Pylypchuk earlier successful the time to archer him helium was feeling sick and thought helium mightiness person COVID.

“He said ‘I emotion you’ and I said ‘I emotion you too,’” Pylypchuk recalled. “And that was the past connection we had … He went to prevarication down and past I got a telephone a small portion aboriginal that helium had died.”

Exhibition view, I’ve Got Love for You (photo © Gene Ogami; courtesy ArtCenter)

Pylypchuk is nary alien to death. His begetter fled Ukraine erstwhile helium was 15 years aged aft witnessing his parents dice successful the Holodomor famine. “He ne'er liked talking astir it, but determination was a changeless taxable of ‘I’m going to dice immoderate minute,’” the creator said. His parents were older erstwhile helium was born, and since his parent was the youngest successful her family, her siblings began dying erstwhile Pylypchuk was a child.

“The happening is, however bash you woody with that heaviness? You can’t unrecorded your beingness perpetually weighed down by it. So you person to find coping mechanisms, and for me, it was ever humor,” Pylypchuk said.

His enactment whitethorn originate from his ain acquisition of loss, but it has a greater resonance. “To me, this accumulation is timely,” Julie Joyce, the manager of ArtCenter Galleries, told Hyperallergic. “We are each grieving. The wounds from the galore losses we experienced during the pandemic are inactive fresh. They are besides mostly unsettled, and unrequited, owed to the information that adjacent the mode we mourn has changed. Right present we each request a small much understanding, a small much humor, a small much love.”

At the show’s opening, Pylypchuk and his bandmates sang plaintive songs sitting earlier a fake occurrence glowing reddish arsenic ghosts swayed above, tinted bluish successful the blacklight. With the last number, the makeshift signifier turned into a puppet show, arsenic a shade with long, floppy striped legs began an awkwardly ebullient creation of death, and trees wobbled goofily side-to-side.

“If this is my past time astir you, I privation to archer you however overmuch I emotion you,” Pylypchuk sang, “And if the prima goes down the satellite volition glow, with each of my emotion for you.”

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