Jow — just Jow — has her second solo show right now at Marine Contemporary in Venice. TOURIST closes this Saturday, May 18, and you really should try to catch it in person if you can — partly for the small, fine details on the hilarious and intelligent hotel-stationery drawings; partly for the hyper-bright effect of entering the main room full of glossy, peppery pigment fields; and partly for the sexy sparkle of each of those paintings up close as their changeable surfaces are activated by your motion across them. Besides the (abstract) large-scale acrylic on panel paintings, and a series of my favorite (text-based) drawings ever, she’s also made two (text-and-light) neon sculptures which are pretty hilarious.
The color theme is certainly striking — yet the exuberant and crisply hi-definition red, white, and blue reads as neither boosterism nor as irony. Instead, she remixes her self-limited chromatic and marking vocabulary in a manner akin to operating the levels on a mixing board to achieve a range of emotional and stylistic variations meant to evoke New York, Paris, London or San Francisco, and Vancouver. And of course, the same colors are in the flags of France, Japan and Canada as well as the US. The way she deploys them is intended to “describe not so much a literal place traveled to or from, as the cultural nostalgia associated with a particular city. Jow’s approach to this is transitional.” That sounds right. Her use of Morse code as a visual signifier is about both universality and inaccessibility — hinting lightly at the cross-sectional, plurapotentiality of interpreting and reconfiguring information. It’s almost like infographics, and almost like abstract painting. Essential, but ambiguous — and worth seeing up close and personal, especially in the presence of the full series.