SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2013, 6 – 8 PM

GARBOUSHIAN GALLERY is pleased to present Canonized Saints, an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles based artist Michael Arata in his inaugural solo exhibition with the gallery.

Arata’s recent series vary in materials and aesthetics, but his contextual themes hover over similar compounds of spirituality and abstract expressions of individualism. His fascination with the ethereal aspects of the world inspires his artwork to explore the dark crevasses and far-reaching corners of his imagination, nearly breeching absurdity with just a hint of brutal honesty.

In Canonized Saints, Arata explores the photographic expression of the human soul. “The souls are a linear extension of previous bodies of work focusing on intangible phenomena,” he says. “The ‘souls’ are a combination of religious and cultural attributes. In this grouping the souls approach my twisted illusive notion of inspiration, spirit and compassion.”

Arata, a recipient of the 2011 ARC grant, has been the focus of solo exhibitions and installations internationally and nationwide. In Belgium, his work has been described as ridiculous and invigorating, as he touches on “the dimension of imagination that both refreshes and infinitely expands the conscious perceptual field; the dimension that is both adjunct to reason and threatens to take it apart at every turn…”

Partial Preview Images

“The invention of the soul as concept is a beautiful abstract idea,” Arata explains. “I would like to have been at that meeting when it was debated…Inventing and assigning abstract characteristics and qualities of divine inspiration as a soul. The soul is an awe-inspiring achievement. Equal to the invention of the mathematical concept of zero. Both require universal agreement to exist. I would like to have been at ‘the zero meeting’ too.”

Inspired by spiritual traditions, popular culture, American and European politics, as well as war, public health issues and sexual expression, Arata simply, takes from life. The new works exhibited in Canonized Saints touch on spirituality and tradition, but also handle what make us all human; even the humanity of saints. “The potential for sainthood is universal,” he says. Arata’s abstract interpretations of sainthood use a visceral and cacophonous visual expression, but touch on a truly human way of feeling.

Arata’s interest in sainthood lead him to the inspired task of managing and reviving souls. “Sex and the use of sex objects seem like the most obvious natural activity of reinserting a person’s soul. Inserting as many soles as often as possible, may quite possibly result in eternal bliss.”

Documenting one’s achievements is a common practice, in life and in art—as seen in Arata’s sculptural tree. “People rank things. In Catholicism, saints have a longer CV than common folk. Saints have a larger soul…I was motivated to canonize a host of saints when the Catholic Church announced the first indigenous resident of the ‘new world’ as a candidate for sainthood. I use print and digital media to identify citizens eligible for canonization. I use the most common material produced by humans to form representational icons following the path of Piero Manzoni."

An Opening Reception for Michael Arata's Canonized Saints inaugural exhibition will take place on Saturday, September 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The exhibition will remain on view until October 26, 2013.