Larry Vigon: ‘Serious Play’ at Silo 118

Rekindling the Figurative in Santa Barbara

Credit: Courtesy

Larry Vigon is walking down a street in London. He sees a piece of paper with a hole on each side of its folded seam. The random sample of craft lingers. In his mind’s eye, it becomes a representational system, a material language, and, eventually, the linoleum print for an abstract figure. In Vigon’s world, the gestation of shapes follows a dream-like path to form.

Credit: Courtesy

In his seminal book The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud explains how at night, our minds haphazardly borrow substance from our waking life and scaffold it onto an emotional quality. Every dream is a Frankensteinian construct of sensuality and sentiment. Vigon’s skill lies in a similar mise en abyme. Only he goes further: Not only does he cobble life stuff to make his pieces, but he also extracts material — as in literal bits of canvas — from his previous, often rejected work.

The sharp edges of brushstrokes become figures’ noses in a cubist collage, hinting at both Braque and Klimt. The thick ears of a rabbit playing out its inner Narcissus echo Jim Woodring’s Frank character — minus the psychedelic edge. However, recycling abstraction into figuration is more than a cut and paste. Larry’s de- and re-compositions are a psychological Rubik’s cube: By discarding and up-cycling his work, Larry — a Jungian connoisseur — is inspecting his own and the collective psyche.

His mask pieces thin a four-dimensional line between public and private, sacred and mundane. His coal-dusted timely take on an incantation requesting a planet-destroying robot spares the Earth — “Gort Klaatu Barada Nikto” from The Day the Earth Stood Still — cryptically initiates a species-wide self-reflection.

Silo 118 is the first gallery I visited after landing in Santa Barbara almost two years ago. Back then, the door was closed. Gallerist Bonny Rubenstein’s work is flinging it wide open, breathing new vibrancy into the Funk Zone. Silo Gallery is back.

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