PORK CHOP TALKS ABOUT HIS MEATY, NEW PARLOR GALLERY EXHIBITION
Local artist Porkchop has spent the last year settling in from an almost decade-long period of personal evolution and discovery.
Last winter, his life cycle of introspection shifted when his work was selected to be featured at the fancy-pants Art Basel Miami micro-fair Scope, where the international art scene purchased his art and embraced him as an emerging contemporary artist of substance.
Returning to Asbury Park invigorated and encouraged, Porkchop spent the next eight months creating a 12 piece series of work now exhibiting with Bradley Hoffer and Ray Sell at Parlor Gallery (also chosen to be part of Scope earlier this year) on Cookman Avenue.
I spoke with Pork Chop, formerly known as Michael Lavalee, earlier this week about his spectacularly intriguing new work.
TBP: Last we spoke a year ago you were giving your older pieces a new identity by painting over them. Today, you have an entirely new series that you created with a detail that is beautifully eerie.
Pork Chop: The series is geared towards a new philosophy; a new visual perspective. I am not trying to say anything about religion but the pieces have a lot of morphing of lesser known icons – maybe in a way to prompt the viewer to envision a new religion or extend their own view of religion.
Most of us have a point of view about spirituality. These pieces, in some way, invite people to bring their own perspectives to the iconography. I want people to extend their own thoughts into these pieces. In my head, I think maybe the icons would be in a different dimension of the universe.
I combined modern materials and methods like resin and silkscreen with older materials like oil on wood. I used earth tones – shades of brown, gold, deep red and warm pink to create a different emotional and spiritual environment.
TBP: Talk about the symbols and lettering so prominent in these pieces.
Pork Chop: Starting with my last series I began creating new typography for my art. So far I have created 16 letters inspired by the beauty in Arabic letters.
Personally, I never like it when English words are part of artwork. Using words like “red” or “sad” or “hate” was too specific a message. It said too much and distracted from the overall composition. The new letters I developed – sometimes combined to become fish scales, sometimes formed as clouds, sometimes hanging in the background – do not move the viewer in a pointed way. The letters or symbols serve an important purpose in the pieces but it is up to the viewer to interpret.
People always want to know what the letters say but I want it to be up to them. For them to come up with their own meaning is more beautiful and powerful.
TBP: Finally, I have always been curious – how did you get the name “Porkchop?
Pork Chop: Years and years ago, I used to use a pork chop to symbolize forbidden fruit and temptation. The name just stuck from there.
TBP: You and your artwork are absolutely beautifully delicious.
“Forthcoming” at Parlor Gallery opening reception, Saturday (Oct. 19), 7 to 9 pm.