Friedman Benda is pleased to present MelonMelonTangerine, British artist Jonathan Trayte’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Informed by Trayte’s recent 2000-mile road trip through the Western United States, MelonMelonTangerine offers an outsider’s perspective on the American landscape. As an avid observer, Trayte poignantly examines the ways in which we perceive and utilize natural resources through his signature tongue-in-cheek sensibility.
With a keen perception and eye for the obscure, Trayte finds the surreal in our everyday surroundings and within the fabric of daily life. Realized while in isolation amidst the current pandemic, he recalls hazy visions of sedimentary rock formations, Joshua trees, lichens, silver cholla cacti and prickly pear fruits to inform this new body of work. A visual raconteur, Trayte reimagines natural forms while appropriating highly stylized motifs from product packaging and advertising ephemera as a nuanced commentary on the universal language of consumerism. Embracing contradictions between the organic and the artificial, he uses the American archetype of the Wild West to examine the rampant excess and waste inherent in today’s society.
“Color is so important as a means of persuasion, persuading people to consume in particular kinds of ways, or in appealing to specific social groups. I create synthetic painted veneers and compositions of materials that either reflect or distort this language; they're like skins of paint or textures that create a kind of chameleon appearance,” says Trayte.
As a nod to Pop art, Trayte subverts the still-life genre, probing tensions between familiarity and displacement. Aimed to transport the viewer to an otherworldly botanical garden, the exhibition debuts his most ambitious work to date including a large palm-like swing seat and a fantastical illuminated cantilever bench rendered on a massive scale. Using vivid hues and innovative processes, the result is an imaginary dreamscape – a surreal collage of color, materials, forms and textures.