Andy Moses wants you to be overwhelmed. He wants you to be enveloped in an intensity of light and color, and he wants you to be shocked by its beauty.
“There’s enough difficulty out there in life,” says the 45-year-old artist from the U.S. city of Los Angeles. “Whoever you are, it’s going to be a rocky road, so I want to create something that gives you a lift, that does something to your psyche, that gives you a five-second visual antidepressant against the harshness of life.”
Moses is one of six international artists featured in “Decorative Secretions,” a collective art and design exhibit on display through February at the Jacob Karpio Galería in downtown San José.
The Californian artist’s expansive canvases of luxuriant hues of blue and red, applied in horizontal sweeps that reach toward a distant, shimmering horizon, recall great oceanic vistas, seascapes and landscapes, or the sense of infinite sky seen from an airplane.
Large, concave canvases confront and engulf the viewer, “sucking you into the space, affecting you, shocking you,” Moses says, while the lustrous, pearlescent acrylic paint captures changing accents of light through the day, creating subtle shifts in highlight and reflection.
Moses, a lifelong surfer, acknowledges the profound influence of the ocean on his work, but is careful to tread a fine line between abstraction and realism.
“These are universal horizons,” he says.
“I’m not trying to capture something exactly or pictorially. I try to take the essence of something and give you an equivalent sensation.”
Almost like traveling through space, the emanating horizons give the paintings a futuristic quality. Moses prefers to think of them as timeless representations of elemental things.
He says his quest is to capture magical plays of light – the way it reflects off water, the sky, its endless distortions and variations – and to explore its positive psychological effect.
Moses makes associations between his work and the minimalist artists of the L.A. “light and space” movement of the 1960s, but says that where they tried to be objective, his work is about putting the emotion and psychology back in. He creates an experience.
Moses says he is fascinated by human perceptions of the universe.
“There’s this idea that we’re going to figure it all out, solve the mystery of the universe once and for all. That’s kind of amusing for me, because our ideas are always evolving, always changing,” he says. “That’s why I try to create imagery that is open and shifting, to reflect that idea that we can’t pin it down.”
This is Moses’ first visit to Costa Rica, where he hopes to find inspiration in volcano and coastline. However, he says, it could take years for such imagery to work its way through his psyche to his paintbrush.
Moses spends hours in his studio every day, playing with paint like a “mad scientist,”waiting to discover what the paint will do on its own.
“I love it when things I’ve seen, often many years in the past, unexpectedly manifest themselves,” he says.
His father, well-known L.A. abstract painter Ed Moses, told him he didn’t mind what course he took in life, so long as he didn’t become a painter. But he couldn’t help it.
“It’s a compulsion,” he says. “Painting gives me my center of gravity.When I paint, time ceases to exist.”
In “Decorative Secretions,” Moses is joined by Argentinean-born Martín Mele, whose “found” objects bound into sculptural shapes and engorged with foam and paint seem to erupt and ooze.
This exploration of the thin line between ordinary things and art is also transferred to Mele’s paintings and fabrics stretched over objects to create unexpected shapes and slinky forms.
The Latin spirit continues with Colombian Federico Junca’s frenzied canvases of bold color, shapes and gestures; Argentine Gabriel Delponte’s giant, etched resin cross dominating a two-story wall in the gallery; and the work of two up-and-coming Tico artists, Errol Barrantes’ depictions of architectural fantasies against liquid horizons, and designer Paco Cervilla’s funky furniture made from recycled materials.
In bringing Moses and these artists together, gallery owner Jacob Karpio is opening a discourse about the value of decorative arts and seeking to show that decorative art does not equal empty art. According to Karpio, “decorative” need not be a dirty word in the art world.
“In the 20th century people became critical of decorative arts and decoration. It was a century of self-reflection, of thinking art was a sacred object,” he says. “With this show I am interested in exploring the decorative side of contemporary art, to show how art is also beauty.”
“Decorative Secretions” is at the Jacob Karpio Galería on Avenida 1, Cuesta de Núñez, through Feb. 7. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 257-7963 or visit www.jacobkarpio-galeria.com.