Walsh Gallery

Von Kommanivanh: You are Ugly


Dates: Jan 30 2009 - Mar 31 2009

Opening Reception: Mar 30 2009

The unjust categorizations of a xenophobic society, omnipresent chaos, and the extinction of beauty and humanity on individual and collective levels are just few calamities of the 21st century which occupy artist Von Kommanivanh. His intention to promote an active awareness of contemporary issues is mirrored in the paintings and found-object installations included in his solo exhibition, You Are Ugly, which opens January 30, 5—8 pm at Walsh Gallery. The artist will be present at the opening reception.

The raw elements of Von Kommanivanh’s earlier paintings and drawings have been integrated into this new body of work. A stunning palette of intense colors is paired with graffiti-inspired animal and human figures in the painting All Hoods. This large-scale canvas is a critique of the ugly socio-political reality and increasing material and moral poverty in contemporary American society. Similarly, the suspended installation Unman Airplane addresses issues of power on one side, misery and powerlessness on the other. As Von Kommanivanh says, “I’m always striving for balance while I explore the forces of good and evil, yin and yang. I’d like to stimulate the viewer’s frame of mind. I want to create a reality in which the viewer can live in a point of time where being poor does not equal irrelevance.”

Von Kommanivanh is one of those exceptional artists who dares to transcend the world of the establishment, to go beyond what is said in the media and to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought. His painting W unquestionably and audaciously describes a person who was believed to be the best to run the world’s most powerful country. Symbols of hate, horror, death, and false angelic benevolence are adorning and surrounding the figure that menacingly gestures on the blood-red background. The painting Obama, with its serenity rendered on a blue background, stands as an antithesis to the intensity of W. The eyes of the subject evoke present-day desolation, but also hope and the chance to change the status quo in the near future.

Von Kommanivanh’s personal life journey is poetically incorporated in his paintings. His cartoon-like imagery sparks the viewer’s imagination and contemplation of our emotional and vulnerable side. His embrace of tattoo and graffiti art has allowed him the freedom to express emotions through these media while preserving the humor in portraying people and situations.

Laos-native, Chicago based Von Kommanivanh is a self-taught artist whose work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Walsh Gallery in Chicago (USA), and has been the curator’s pick at the Shanghai Contemporary 2008 (China). This is Von Kommanivanh’s second individual exhibition at Walsh Gallery.