Central Server Works, Los Angeles, and Marian Cramer Projects, Amsterdam are excited to announce the collaborative two-person exhibition:
Darius Airo and Jim Mooijekind
Darius Airo and Jim Mooijekind 𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 will open at Central Server Works Venice on September 29, 2023, from 6 – 9 PM.
The exhibition, the first of a two-part international collaboration by the artists, began as a series of conversations between Airo and Mooijekind, kindred spirits when it comes to studio practice. Bringing together over 15 works by artists created in 2023 the show seeks to underline similarities and diversions in the painter’s practices.
The artists initially bonded over their mutual respect and admiration of each other’s paintings on social media and began a years-long dialogue about each other’s work and life as an artist in general. 𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 acts as a way to trace both artists’ current interest in the abstraction of the figure as a means of exploring psychologically charged subject matter. The figures and forms emerge directly from imagination in both artists’ works on view in the show as the artists create densely populated worlds within their art. Through viewing the works in the exhibition collectively a sense of intentional imagery, new means of exploring figuration, and a strong sense of narrative bleed through each painting.
In 𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 Mooijekind takes center stage as the primary subject in each of his works. The images are held captive within the artist’s rib cage and nestled in the depths of their belly. The works stand as monuments to the human soul, serving as statues dedicated to the essence of the human condition. They are iconic representations of emotions like sadness, love, and humor. Mooijekind commands the central role as the primary focus in every artwork. The images are living, biopic paintings that vividly capture the artist’s personal experiences, offering viewers a stark invitation to recognize the shared resonance in our own souls.
As visual representations, the paintings are boldly integrated into philosophy. They humanize and strip away the veneer of pretentiousness from the ideas that mold human existence, resonating deeply within the soul. They elevate the everyday circus of life onto a brightly saturated pedestal, inviting the viewer to share in-jokes, shed tears, dance, and hold onto moments tightly.
Airo’s new series of paintings for the exhibition originates from a multilayered convergence of poetry, fiction, art historical criticism, painterly process, and personal and artistic reflection via walking. Starting his studio days with long walks around his Chicago neighborhood, Airo takes in his surroundings before locking in on the face of a subject he wants to devote to canvas. He locks the face into his memory before running back to the studio to finish the work in one session. The dense nature of the city allows for many different outcomes on different days depending on the path the artist decides to take each day. Airo equates this process with the slow and thoughtful process of prose, particularly fiction and poetry which has informed multiple series of works the artist has created in 2023.
For Dense, the work of American Renaissance novelist and poet Herman Melville via the criticism of Harvard Professor of Art, Film, and Visual Studies, and of History of Art and Architecture and critic Carrie Lambert-Beatty informs Airo’s thinking. An excerpt from Moby Dick the artist came across in Beatty’s essay “Make Believe: Parafiction and Plausibility,” informs the idea of figures and worlds the artist conjures in his new paintings:
“There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause: — through infancy’s unconscious spell, boyhood’s thoughtless faith, adolescence’s doubt (the common doom), then skepticism, then disbelief, resting at last in manhood’s pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally. Where lies the final harbor, whence we unmoor no more?”
- Herman Melville
The works speak to the dense nature of existing in a para-fictional state, where fact and fiction blur, as the faces Airo encounters in real life become a part of the new worlds he conjures in his paintings. Similar to the autobiographical nature in which Mooijekind tackles his works, the artist reveals the power of creating new worlds based on our shared realities.
Darius Airo (b. Chicago, USA 1995) is an artist currently based in Chicago. Airo’s childhood interests in animation and graffiti shaped his artistic practice at a young age. His early influences include the photography of Martha Cooper, Nickelodeon Animation, and the work of R. Crumb. Airo worked as a studio assistant to Tony Fitzpatrick as a teenager before receiving his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017, yielding his first solo show of works on paper with Fitzpatrick’s gallery Adventure Land titled Vessels the same year.
Airo has exhibited paintings and drawings around the US including NYC, LA, and Chicago. In 2022 Airo had his first West Coast solo exhibition with Central Server Works (CSW) where he is set to have a 2-person exhibition with Dutch artist Jim Moojiekind in fall 2023 an international collaboration between CSW and Marian Cramer Projects, Amsterdam. Airo is also exhibiting internationally in 2023 and 2024 with Face Guts and Whitebox in Los Angeles in September 2023, CSW and Marian Cramer in Paris in October 2023, and Amsterdam in the spring of 2024.
Jim Mooijekind (b. Haarlem, NL 1992) makes dense, figurative paintings. In his works, he mostly uses an autobiographical avatar in combination with a wide array of symbols and references to give form to the unresolved philosophical matters he has in his head. He plays in a field where the grim, fun, epic, and mundane coexist. He is visually inspired and formed by the honesty and directness of the cartoons he used to watch growing up in the 90’s and the first part of the 00’s.
𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 is the first in a series of collaborations between Central Server Works and Marian Cramer Projects. The galleries will co-present a pop-up group show 𝑇ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝐹𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑠 in Paris during Paris+ par Art Basel opening on October 17, 2023. In spring 2024, Marian Cramer Projects will host the second part of Darius Airo and Jim Mooijekind’s collaborative exhibition in their Amsterdam gallery.