Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jeff Soto- "The Inland Empire" at StolenSpace, London

Hey all, I am off to London in a few weeks for my first UK solo show, come and check it out. Interested buyers should contact I am also doing a book signing- more info to come. Here is the press release. Thanks, Jeff

Jeff Soto
‘The Inland Empire’
14th May - 07th June 2009
StolenSpace, London

StolenSpace are proud to present Californian artist and icon of the current pop art scene, Jeff Soto, in his inaugural Uk solo exhibition ‘The Inland Empire’.

This show will feature over twenty new paintings on wood panel and paper, as well as large-scale outdoor installations. The opening will see the release of a limited edition hand pulled screen print and Soto will be signing copies of his newly published book ‘Storm Clouds’.

‘The Inland Empire’ is a politically charged exhibition focusing on the theme of recession in the area in which the artist lives and how it reflects what is happening all over the world. Conceptually it is the next step of Soto’s hugely successful and critically acclaimed museum exhibit at the Riverside Art Museum, “Turning In Circles” in December 2008. Being in Riverside, his home town for the last 24 years, he knew it had to relate somehow to this city that has molded him and made me who he is.

“The region I live in is called the Inland Empire. It is an area about 50 miles east of Los Angeles nestled between the desert and the mountains. Overall it is a low-income area, mostly suburbs and manufacturing plants with a high minority population. When the economy was booming the Inland Empire grew at a fast rate as people headed east, unable to afford homes in Los Angeles. It was one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. But when the economy crumbled the Inland Empire was hit hard. As home values dropped most who bought houses ended up backwards on their mortgages and let them fall back to the banks. We have lost 115,000 jobs since 2007 and the unemployment rate is near 12%. I see the Inland Empire as a miniature version of what is happening around the world- poor people and the working class are getting poorer and disempowered while the rich and powerful are getting more rich and more powerful.”

Visually Soto’s style is inspired by science fiction, childhood toys, the colorful lifestyle of skateboarding and graffiti, hip-hop and popular culture. Filled with symbols of life and death- flowers, skulls, greenery and dead weeds. Military hardware, bombs, planes, and guns make an appearance. Landscape is also important, in particular the desert like rolling hills of the Inland Empire interspersed with oil well “grasshoppers” and telephone poles reaching into the distance. The ‘eye candy’ colors and objects draw the viewer in to a deeper, more serious subject matter.

Environmental issues also take precedent for Soto, who is concerned with conflict of humans trying to harness, or take advantage of nature. His paintings exude this tension, as robotic creatures duel, organic tentacles and flower bouquets thrive, and black smog looms amidst floating, ominous skulls.

“I approach the same global issues as many of the other artists working today but choose to voice my opinion in a more subdued way. There are always social, political and environmental issues apparent in my paintings; I guess I’d rather make viewers think about things, rather than tell them how to think.”

About StolenSpace:
StolenSpace gallery exhibits a genre of work that has been variously labelled as 'Underground Art', 'Street Art' or even 'Urban Art'. None of these terms satisfactorily represent our artists’ work and so we prefer not to pigeonhole it. Some of our artists have a background in graffiti and street art, but not exclusively - all however, are influenced by society‘s prevailing subcultures.

We are an artist run gallery which in itself is unusual; ensuring that we keep our artists’ best interests at heart, and that we remain close to the creative process. Based in the heart of East London, our permanent gallery space is situated in the Old Truman Brewery complex on Brick Lane. Our location gives us a unique ability to hold large scale exhibitions in stunning industrial spaces, fitting for our artists’ work. For example, for Shepard Fairey’s landmark show ‘Nineteeneightyfouria’ in November 07, we took on a 25,000 sq ft space, making us the largest private gallery in London.

The Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL
T:0207 247 2684