David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present an online solo presentation of new paintings by Jon Pestoni for Frieze Viewing Room Los Angeles Edition. A painter whose work emerges from an amalgam of experimental, modernist, and non-visual traditions, Pestoni makes images in which pleasure is woven through with innovation and whose apparent simplicity belies unfolding layers of subtlety and complexity. These new works, painted on panels, juxtapose abstraction with graphic—and at times, figurative—elements. Their compositions are defined by the verticality of line; gestural brushwork is contained in crisply defined areas. As is often the case in Pestoni’s paintings, foreground and background are relative terms, and what is hidden is as foundational as what is seen. The exhibition is presented in tandem with the Frieze Viewing Room Los Angeles Edition, July 27 – August 1, 2021.
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Since the beginning of his career, Pestoni has advanced his work by alternating between addition and subtraction, employing both modes to varying degrees and extremes—and sometimes within the same painting. Such is the case in these works, which reflect, on the one hand, a reduced and systematized compositional language and, on the other, an introduction of new elements that destabilize any singular reading of either their conceptual underpinnings or their visual structure. The silhouettes—and sometimes the more complete representation—of a pair of shoes provide one of the presentation’s throughlines. These forms are not always wholly recognizable, but nonetheless, they anchor the images and lend them a hard-to-define legibility. Neither wholly pop-inflected pictures nor wholly exercises in abstract geometry, the shoes constitute just one of the ways in which Pestoni formulates what amounts to a negative theology of painting, describable only by stating what it is not rather than what it is.
This ethos has a long history in trajectories of modern and contemporary art; Pestoni integrates many of the competing narratives to which it gave rise, showing, for instance, how expressive mark-making is not necessarily incongruous with the minimalism that would eventually come to replace it at the forefront of the avant-garde. In some examples, neighboring fields of flat, saturated colors with only slight variations between them jostle against looser, undulating bands of variegated hues that reveal the movement of the artist’s brush. At the same time, the paintings are unified pictures in the most direct sense of the word, with all of the potential for communication and visceral connection that it implies.
Jon Pestoni (b. 1969, St. Helena, California) was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio in 2016. Group exhibitions include Rosebud, Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles (2019); Trace of Existence, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2016); Abstraction (sound and vision), Todd Madigan Gallery, California State University Bakersfield (2013); Alone Together, Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2013); and Real Simple, selections from the collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Riverview School, East Sandwich, Massachusetts (2012). Pestoni’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Rennie Collection, Vancouver; Rubell Museum, Miami; and Sammlung Goetz, Munich, among other institutions.