John Sonsini, Sept. 10-Oct. 5, 2002, at ACME, 6150 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca. 90048
John Sonsini's new paintings writhe inside their own self-revelatory esthetic, heated and uncompromising, thick and lush.
These works are all about the gaze, inescapable and provocative, an implicit understanding of a deep-rooted need to connect. The men in these paintings follow you with their eyes, inciting you to look over your shoulder, if only to feel yourself seen and to catch yourself looking.
The specific revelations you come away with in the wake of being seen are your own, and Sonsini's paintings seem to want to serve as visual catalysts for more personal associations. Sonsini's work reveals itself slowly, the artist's intentions, if they are known at all to us, excreted effortlessly in the vanquished looks of the young Hispanic men that he paints over and over.
The work in this show is less homoerotic than it is autocentric, the figures proposing deeper questions of self than mere sexuality. Gabriel, a 60 by 48 inch painting, is particularly intense, and looking at this image one has the feeling that the painting's subject, the young shirtless man, possessed of a strange, brutish wisdom, is complicit in the artist's process of creating. He seems to know more than he lets on. Another painting, Jorge has a jewel-like quality, a quiet intensity brewing in the young man's eyes.
Sonsini's paintings range in price from $2,200 for the smaller works to $17,000 for large paintings.