‘Abstract Adjacent’ builds on ‘vibe’ at Mon Dieu Projects in L.A.

The second presentation in the exhibition program at Mon Dieu Projects gallery in Los Angeles, “Abstract Adjacent,” wraps up June 14, 2023. The group show strips away most, but not all of the figurative elements from its inaugural show “Intimate Exchanges.”

Mon Dieu Projects is the creation of native Angeleno, writer and art collector Spencer Walker and his close friend Juno Youn, namesake of Montreal’s Galerie Youn. Walker started as Youn’s client before forming the gallery business. Mon Dieu Projects takes its name from the French expression “my god!,” with surprise being the reaction gallery curators hope artworks on view elicit.

“Abstract Adjacent” fuses the founders’ personal artistic tastes, Youn favoring more figurative works, Walker, leaning towards abstraction. The show meets in the middle with a celebration of all that is not quite what it seems while nodding to LA-speak – “adjacent” – a term meaning close to, but not quite part of something; think “Beverly Hills-adjacent” real estate.

“’Abstract Adjacent’ is a playful, colorful, and timeless exhibition that speaks to both the vibe of Mon Dieu Projects, and Spencer and myself,” Youn said. “Not everyone will like the work, but they could never accuse the show, or the gallery, of being dull. The featured artists are bold in their practice and make no apologies for their approach.”

Those artists include an international mix of painters from Berlin, Canada, Mexico, and Los Angeles, including Jaehong Ahn, Eva Blue, Lucas Biagini, Nadege Monchera Baer, Rick Boling and Christopher Kuhn.

“Abstract Adjacent” was curated by Walker with guidance from Juno. The show actually began with the pure abstract works of Kuhn, a friend of Walker’s for more than 20 years who is represented at Galerie Youn.

“Kuhn’s bold explorations of color were the anchor from which the rest of the group exhibition was built,” Walker said. “As new artists were added whose works were simpatico, a pattern of abstraction emerged even amongst the more figurative works. There is a throughline of abstraction that all these artists share, yet each creates their own singular, askew interpretation of the world.”

Three generations of artists are on view in “Abstract Adjacent,” from emerging artists Lucas Biagini and Bernardo Montgomery to Nadege Monchera Baer who has been creating art for five decades.

“The goal was to create organized chaos with some of our favorite artists,” Walker added.

"Abstract Adjacent" exhibition installation at Mon Dieu Projects in Los Angeles.
“Abstract Adjacent” exhibition installation at Mon Dieu Projects in Los Angeles. Photo by Erick Thomas

Figuration and abstraction were long rivals in the art world, artists forced to declare allegiance to one camp or the other. They often not only advocated on behalf of their “side,” but denigrated the other as part of a campaign for genre supremacy. In 2023, such strict ghettoization feels wholly outdated.

“Even good ‘figurative’ work has some abstraction to it, unless it’s photorealism. The artist’s job is to interpret the world around them using their own unique approach,” Youn said. “Mon Dieu’s favorite artists tend to find themselves somewhere in that gray area between figurative and abstract where vibrant colors and shapes emerge. The beauty of abstraction from ‘adjacent’ all the way to ‘pure’ is that it gives the viewer permission to make their own conclusions about the artist’s intent. Plus, it becomes more emotional, a vibe.”

Emotions, vibes, producing that energy through artwork reflects the aims of the gallery’s founders who want to develop a niche for their Mon Dieu Projects in the booming L.A. gallery scene that’s “fun and accessible,” not “rigid and cliquish” in Walker’s words.

“(Our) ideal collector doesn’t have a specific age, net worth, or pedigree. Our goal is to create new collectors and not scare them off with highfalutin attitudes or asking who they know first,” Youn adds. “Collectors should buy art because they love it, not because it’s an investment or for social currency, but for the value created in their heart.”

This is a welcome approach in an art world often hostile to newcomers.

“Mon Dieu Projects hopes to be that bridge for folks with the interest in art, but without the vocabulary or the net worth to even get a ‘hello’ when they walk into a gallery,” Walker said. “The art is affordable and approachable, and we’ll spend as much time discussing the work with a mechanic as with a hedge fund manager.”

Mon Dieu Projects is located on the ground floor at 720 E. 18th Street, Los Angeles, 90021. It is open to the public Wednesdays through Fridays from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Sundays from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM and by appointment.

No Comments Yet.