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Review: Jonathan Darby @ White Walls SF

During the weekend that I visited the Shooting Gallery to check out the latest solo show from Aaron Nagel (reviewed), I also stopped by White Walls Gallery right next door to see what they had going on. The front portion of the gallery featured new works by Adam Caldwell, and while these works were worth checking out the installations and mixed media paintings from Jonathan Darby stole the show. Click the jump link to read the rest of the review and a video of the installation.

The entire back of the White Walls gallery had been transformed into a Favela, otherwise known as a shanty town in Brazil. Darby has shown his Favela inspired works in previous galleries such as the Signal Gallery. As you step inside the massive installation, the gallery is literally transformed into a slum that many of the children featured in the paintings live in day by day. I was reminded that the ground was still a nice gallery floor, and the room was still conditioned, but I made an effort to really be immersed and understand that the children living this way have it harsher than most people could ever imagine. There was also a soundtrack playing that could be heard throughout the installation. This was accompanied by a video that I tried to capture in the video below.

While walking through the ramshackle walls and doors, mixed media paintings featured children immediately catch your eye. There is no way to not feel something as you look at the faces of these children. It’s clear that these kids have seen more pain, and struggled more than many that walked through the gallery to see the show. The patrons also have the ability to leave the cold walls behind and walk out of the gallery back into the city streets. While this show was no doubt a bit depressing I was happy that White Walls not only showed the work of an immensely talented artist, but exhibited works of art that didn’t focus on pop culture, imaginary monsters, or movie references. Art is such a powerful medium that can educate, change minds, and alert people to the many tragedies and beauties this world has to offer. I think it’s important that artists continue to create work such as the paintings and installations that Jonathan Darby has created.

The show was supported by the Children At Risk Foundation, and a portion of the sales went to this organization. There was also a beautiful limited edition print for sale that also helped CARF. I was happy to learn that many of the works had sold, meaning that the show was able to educate and provide support for children that live in such conditions. I hope that the video and images are able to give you an idea of what Darby was able to create in the gallery, and that you will head over to the artists website to learn more about his work.

Jonathan Darby

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