Posted By Elda Silva on Fri, July 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm
Albert Alvarez takes a sketchbook almost everywhere he goes.
Sometimes the artist carries a palm-sized journal he can easily slip into a pocket. Other times, he totes a larger pad he shields from prying eyes with a bandana as he works.
When Rigoberto Luna met Alvarez, he was immediately reminded of Kevin Ragnott, a friend from his days at Pratt Institute in New York, and another sketchbook devotee.
“I always wanted to do a show with (Alvarez) and (Ragnott) without them knowing, and this is the only opportunity I’ve had,” Luna says.
“Sketchbook,” an exhibit of work culled from the pages of the artists’ private journals and pads, is at Studio One Zero Three, a new space on South Presa in Southtown that shares quarters — and a name — with a hair salon. Luna, an artist and art preparator, is curating the gallery for owner Patricia Lujan.
Both artists gave Luna full access to their uncensored sketchpads, which function as repositories for ideas and as visual diaries.
“It’s basically a template for other works that actually I end up expanding onto pieces of paper or canvas,” Ragnott says of his sketchbook work. “It’s just the beginning of a process, and it goes from there. It’s never really finished. It’s always a beginning.”
Some of the works on display include journals opened and pressed flat under Plexiglas and prints made from small drawings. By definition, a sketch is hastily executed — a rough draft. But many of the pieces read like fully realized works.
“I love the mix between me and Albert’s work,” says Ragnott, a 29-year-old Brooklyn artist who studied architecture at Pratt. “Even though our concepts are two ends of the spectrum, I somehow feel there’s a connection because the line work is there and you can get a sense of both of our work ethics. Shout outs to OCD! You can feel the passion in both of our works.”
In his work, Ragnott combines pop culture icons with realistic depictions of animals and intricate geometric designs, including a ropey, maze-like pattern that he describes as muscle or skin. The precisely rendered drawings are chiefly done with Bic pens and colored markers.
“It’s funny to me, because a lot of people are amazed at the detail, but really it’s all about line weight and cross hatching, and just exploring and trying to create different styles,” he says.
Works on display include a print of a tribute to David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona. The musician is surrounded by Ragnott’s signature sinewy pattern, interrupted in places by amorphous cloudlike shapes. Colorful geometric designs that bled through from the other side of the page make for a happily trippy accident.
The subject matter of Alvarez’s sketchbook drawings flows image to image, stream-of-consciousness style.
“These are pretty personal, like if you go through them, you’ll see parts of my life,” Alvarez says of his sketchbooks.
Among the images Luna selected for the show, there’s a seamy bus stop encounter with a prostitute, a seething mosh pit, a grimacing Tim Duncan making a basket, and a crucifixion set against an urban skyline. The exhibit includes some of Alvarez’s early hatch drawings, but those familiar with the 28-year-old artist’s intense, generally apocalyptic vision will probably be most surprised by the landscapes — yes, landscapes — from a trip to Maine that Alvarez took while he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design.
His sketchbook drawings reflect “real inner thoughts,” Alvarez says. “You think paintings are all out there, but I think the sketchbooks are more all out, uncensored, because I know a painting will be seen by a lot of people, and they’re kind of edited for the space within the frame.”
Both Ragnott and Alvarez would like viewers to flip through the books on display, something Luna may make possible before the show ends. Not to worry, the art will be protected.
“It would be contained and managed,” Luna says. “No one can eat Hot Cheetos.”