Joel Dean: Universal Picture Collapse

709 N. Hill St. inside Asian Center upstairs suite #105 Los Angeles, CA 90012 USA
Jul 17, 6 PM - 9 PM — ends Aug 28, 2021
“To suggest it, that is the dream.”
— Stéphane Mallarmé[1]

Initiating a new series of paintings for his first solo exhibition at Bel Ami, Joel Dean demonstrates how words and other signifiers emanate unstable meanings. Each composition is anchored by a letter, recalling Medieval illuminated manuscripts and late 19th century children’s books. However, instead of using text and allegorical imagery to spell out a cohesive narrative, Joel Dean intuitively paints dreamlike metropolises where familiar markers are unmoored from their referents in waking life. Working on multiple canvases at once, he moves through the English alphabet in no particular order: D, Q, T, J, X, Z, A, S, M, K. His intricate and mystifying recombinations of visual vocabulary invite new readings. Melting storm clouds and electric bolts of color open an alternate realm of philology and fantasy. Wielding his brush like a wand, Joel Dean draws attention to how language and meanings are always shifting, and how every decoding is an inspired encoding.

Joel Dean (b. 1986, Atlanta, GA) lives and works in New York. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 and studied at the Yale University Summer School of Music and Art, Norfolk in 2008. Dean has held solo exhibitions at Prairie, Chicago (2019); Cordova, Barcelona (2019); Interstate Projects, New York (2018); International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York (2016); and Species, Atlanta (2016). Selected group exhibitions include P.P.O.W., New York (2020); Bodega, New York (2020); Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (2020); Alyssa Davis Gallery, New York (2017); Weekends, London (2016); Bureau, New York (2014); and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014). Dean has participated in residency programs at the Triangle Association, New York and the Oxbow School of Art. In 2013 he received an Alternative Exposure Grant from Southern Exposure and the Andy Warhol Foundation.

opening Saturday July 17, 2021, 6-9 PM

[1] From interview with Jules Huret in A Survey of Literary Development, 1891