Joey Monsoon leaves his job in the healthcare field and makes his way home. He has dinner with his family. At 9:30 p.m., he puts his son to bed and descends into his studio, where for the last nine months, he’s been using a new medium to create imperfections—figures that are bent and worn, often with a “heavy stare” that suggest they’ve been privy to the harder side of life.
“I’m actually a really happy, positive person,” Monsoon says. “When I’m making them, I’m not thinking of them as dark. I think of them more as survivors: people that have handled all that life’s thrown at them. They’re still tall.”
For his most recent show at Lindsay Gallery, Monsoon has made a departure from his usual medium—acrylic—to tackle oil, and with the change in paint comes a change in scale. These works are significantly larger than the other pieces, and this flirtation with oil has bloomed into a full-on love affair.
“I’m really only interested in painting the figure, and more so, the flesh. To me, it’s the best vehicle for conveying emotions.”
“I can get richer colors—it allows things to happen that I don’t intend,” Monsoon says. “I also started working with a palette knife. You can push it around. It’s like working with butter. It’s creating things, textures and colors and marks that I couldn’t create intentionally. It allows things to happen more organically.”
And that emphasis on the happy accidents and organic nature of oil is perfect for his subject of choice. Monsoon doesn’t relay the narratives of his figures through context (most are against a relatively bare backdrop). The story of his subjects is in their meat.
“I’m really only interested in painting the figure, and more so, the flesh,” he says. “To me, it’s the best vehicle for conveying emotions. The last few years, I’ve been focusing on the flesh itself. They’ll become less and less clothed. Flesh is the best way to transmit emotions. The wrinkles and scars are the best documents for what it’s like to live a life. I think it kind of goes back to the spirit of survival: weathered by life, but not destroyed by it. Triumph in the fact that you’re still standing. I’m interested in the flesh and the bones and the stare.”
Monsoon’s self-taught artistic journey has taken him through skateboard graphics, graffiti, sketching, acrylics, and now to oil. Monsoon says it was stepping a little outside his comfort zone to switch mediums and scale, but he’s been at it since January, and this show at the Lindsay Gallery will feature seven such works.
“The move to go big was partly from conversations with Duff at Lindsay Gallery. He suggested making bigger paintings, and I thought I needed to do something to take some risks. The next step would be to go from acrylic to oil, so it was a big deal for me, all around.” •
Monsoon’s work will be hanging in Lindsay Gallery through November 29. For more, see lindsaygallery.com.