Craig Krull Gallery
September 10 – October 22, 2022
Although cryptic, this series of paintings, drawings, and installations (created over the course of a decade) shows the hi-desert landscape via a much truer demeanor than displayed in the popular travel magazines. Filled with echoes of previous and current generations which represent the authentic Joshua Tree (the indigenous, poverty stricken, eccentric artist, and even tweaker), the vibe also hints at a post-apocalyptic scenario, considering there are no inhabitants in sight. This portrayal succeeds in stripping away the glossy veneer forged in recent years, which suggests that this land is a glamorous, rich-people’s playground with endless sunset margaritas enjoyed within dust-free, modern architecture.
In Buried Ruins, an elongated school bus has retired itself in a dismal, remote ditch: Tires completely submerged in the hardened sand suggest that its days of hauling boisterous children are long over. Adding to the curiousness of this scene is the fact that the bus rests face to face with a dazzling multi-tiered cake, apparently also deserted. This exemplifies the mingling of fact and fiction within Es’ work, in which the odd yet common phenomenon of abandoned busses is augmented by an outright absurdist emblem.
Peyote’s Walk provides us with a tasty mouthful of candy-colored boulders fused into a horizon of abstracted structures. In the foreground, a vintage, dilapidated merry-go-round and empty circus tent rest as if suspended in a time when things made more sense: Again, not quite the playground we’d imagined. Here, gratuitous dreams are proven obsolete, with an eerie cheerfulness only illustrating the nullity of the situation further.
Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are numerous maps, both real and fabricated, as well as an impressive installation comprised of dozens of drawings, notes, and photographs of the area. Within this altar-like construction, crossed out “For Sale” signs cue us towards the artist’s love and respect for the area, and a reminder that, although parcels of land may be bought, they spiritually belong to no one.
Overall, Es invites us into a fascinating journey dreamt from their emotional, psychological, and physical space. The variety of materials and techniques harnessed, coupled with the contradicting elements of whimsy and doom, make for a delectably complex exhibit.
Cover image: Off the Grid; all images courtesy of Craig Krull Gallery and photographed by the author.