Mario Zoots: Gentle Distortion

K Contemporary

May 4 - June 1, 2019

  • Opening Reception: Saturday, May 4, 6-9 pm
Zootsr Front print
K Contemporary is proud to announce the opening of the highly anticipated solo exhibition by Mario Zoots, a Denver original with a growing international profile, titled “Gentle Distortion”. The central theme of Zoots’ work explores the concepts of originality, intention, expression and authorship, ultimately asking the question, “What represents authenticity in this era of simulacrum?”

When everything in art owes something in part to someone else, Zoots’ intention with this exhibition is to be transparent with the viewer about the process of art creation. Building his work themes on the rich foundations of art history, he looks back to the classical, modern and contemporary masters of past and present:

“I am thinking of Michelangelo and how he used assistants to help paint the Sistine Chapel or his apprentices who made his under paintings. I’m thinking of Warhol and his factory approach to creating art. And today with artists like Koons, Hirst and Minter having large studios with many assistants creating the work. The romantic image of the artist at work alone in the studio is largely inaccurate in today’s market driven art world.” Zoots wants to merely pull back the curtain to allow his audience a clearer view of “artist at work”.

The process of artistic creation, which Mario wants the viewer to observe closely, is nourished by multiple wellsprings, including inspiration, conceptualization, fabrication and communication. “Gentle Distortion” wonders aloud whether these raw elements can stand alone, or whether authenticity demands they be carried out together by a single creator. Is art to be judged by the sum of its parts, or by the manner of its creation? “These are the times of alternative facts,” says Zoots. “We’re adapting to a more flexible view of reality, integrity, sincerity and truthfulness.”

In the world of art, the new reality is increasingly characterized by appropriation and sourcing—two ancient, universal and, until very recently, rarely acknowledged practices that Zoots is pleased to publicly embrace. Intact and only slightly modified images and artifacts are the flesh and blood of his signature collages. While Zoots honors the intellectual and conceptual pre-conditions of his works, as often as not, he bids other hands to give them form, color and life.

“I’m experimenting with the idea of not being the one to make my work, and in some cases not touching it during the process at all,” he explains. “I’ve been having objects fabricated lately, out-sourcing my paintings to China, and I’ve hired an assistant to make my work based on a loose set of rules.”

The truth, both real and alternative, is that the traditions of borrowing inspiration and delegating artistic duties probably predate Lascaux, and they remain a proven part and a profitable parcel of many celebrated contemporary studios. But does that make the work itself any less genuine? Guests to K Contemporary this May will be invited to decide for themselves while browsing Zoots’ exquisite visual almanac of sculptures, paintings, collages and found photographs both ready-made and reproduced. “Gentle Distortion” will exhibit reassuring pieces of the past, comforting and commonplace relics of a Golden Age that never actually existed.

“The aura of authenticity clings to representations of an imagined past. But it’s never authenticity itself I find, only an artificial spectacle.” Appropriately enough, “Gentle Distortion” will feature several works presenting such ersatz spectacle in evolving series, replicating images at once instructive of Zoots’ artistic approach and reflective of the exhibit’s title.

Giving a nod to Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Zoots will showcase work in multiples. The essay speaks to the evolution of the ability to reproduce works of art, and how this resulted in art’s loss of aesthetic value through unique claims to being an authentic original. At play in this essay is also the theme of how reproducible, mass marketed art can be a tool for distracting, confusing and manipulating the masses. This essay is credited with developing an insightful interpretation of the role technological reproduction plays in shaping aesthetic experience.

Zoots shares, “I want to show the multiple ways I can reproduce an image, I dig the repetition and the confusion. My intention is to be transparent with the viewer about the process.”

K Contemporary
1412 Wazee St
Denver, CO 80202