Long ago, Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated that you cannot step twice into the same river. Fast forward to the present-day Los Angeles. The force of the gentrification feels unstoppable. You cannot drive by the same neighborhood twice, where things are fast changing, often beyond recognition. In this land of angels and traffic congestion, the battered, graffiti-filled concrete walls are increasingly giving ways to multimillion dollar fancy condominiums. It is within this space where artist Devon Tsuno finds his colorful, punchy inspirations.
As part of the multidisciplinary, collaborative projects centered around the subject of water and its relationship to the city, Tsuno has teamed up with Todd Smith of Press Works to create a series of screen prints, which the artist calls monotype paintings. Taking cues from the iconic LA River and nearby urban oasis, Tsuno has developed abstract water motifs that swoosh down assertively, and fast. Defined with crisp hard edges, the waves and ripples turn into jolts of lightning, as they zigzag across the flat landscape. The dynamic pattern reads as a quiet roar that is lost amidst the cacophony of city noises and commotion.
The paper surfaces are saturated with a diverse palette of colors squeegeed through one of the two screens. Painted with two, three, or four layers of thunderous water that is simultaneously fluid and still, each is unique and chromatically smashing. The dazzling bold colors are powerful, conjuring up the memories of graffiti writings, beach sunset, crashing waves, native plants, and the 80’s fashion in all its former splendor. Scattered among 26 prints, the broken-up chunks of dashing colors keep you guessing.
It is probably inevitable that you won’t recognize Los Angeles come tomorrow. You will, fortunately, find its once lively, spirited ethos of concrete urban paradise in Tsuno’s vibrantly energetic images. The man’s affinity for the city is undeniable. His love for all things ugly and beautiful inside its vast boundary is even more so.
Devon Tsuno lives and works in Los Angeles. Explore the artist’s work on www.DevonTsuno.com. Find more information about Press Works at www.PressWorksArt.com. All images courtesy of artist unless otherwise noted. Video by Ace Carretero.