"O'Henry," from the "Headquarters" series, digital/Iris print, 31 x 40", 1994/97
"La Casa Grande," from the "Save the Creatures" series, cibachrome print/3-D
collage, 20 x 20", 1987/90.
"Happy Birthday," from the "A La Andy" series, fuji super gloss, 10 x 8", 1992.
"Coupe," from the "Save the Creatures" series, cibachrome with 3-D and paint, 20 x 20", 1990/91.
(L.A. Artcore, Downtown) There is an interesting progression in the work of John Drooyan, from mixed media assemblage to digital imagery, that is entirely natural and logical. In the 1980's the artist fashioned works embellished cibachrome photos with actual industrial objects. The frames themselves were a part of the image and like it were also constructed from a variety of objects along with the addition of paint and collage. From these mixed media artworks Drooyan progressed to collages made from Fuji Super Gloss and Ciba prints embellished with paint. By the 1990's the artist's work had become entirely digital, derived from the computer, and displayed as Iris prints. The marriage of these different media Drooyan terms "Neurorealism" and this exhibit presents an overview of the progression.
In his artist's statement Drooyan cites the work of Picasso, Duchamp and Magritte as the forebears for the "perceptual/conceptual paradigm" of "Neurorealism." The convergence of these mediums, states the artist, "renders a unique pictorial space that is the stage and backdrop of my art." The perception of three-dimensional space is a common concern that is evident in all of Drooyan's work, however disparate the materials might be.
The earlier mixed media work is conservationist in nature and is even grouped under a generic series title called "Save the Creatures". In this series, individual artworks such as La Casa Grande, S.O.S., and Coupe depict a three-dimensional space whose natural boundaries are increasingly jammed-up with technological relics, rusted metal and waste. Drooyan's crowding of the visual space with metal junk is part of his statement. And it is very effective. Environmental concerns aside, the viewer can enjoy these works on an aesthetic level that is quite pleasing. There is an interesting interplay between the photographic image and the actual objects affixed to it that dances around the idea of trompe l'oeil. And the craftsmanship in the work is outstanding.
The middle period works on Ciba and Fuji Super Gloss such as A Post Xmas Card, Happy Birthday and Be My Valentine are more playful and decorative in nature. But the complexity of the visual construction is equal to that of the earlier works and Drooyan's use of foreground and background, as well as color, builds a perceptual space that suggests three dimensions. Happy Birthday, for example depicts a soft, robotic entity made entirely out of pants, shirts and shoes floating over a receding Mondrian-esque background of bright primary colors.
Drooyan's latest work, output as digital Iris prints, is almost entirely abstract. However, each of the works depicts a visual space such as a hallway or a room. Over that deftly constructed field of visual boundaries the artist superimposes a bright series of shapes and lines that could easily be a sculpture by Miro or Calder. So the inherent idea of a tangible and mixed medium is present even in Drooyan's latest computer imagery. The piece titled O'Henry is a beautiful and complex illustration of Drooyan's neurally submerged realism.
Of course, one must experience the earlier mixed media works "in the flesh" to get a genuine sense of their weight and presence, the very real decay of their concrete nature. They are strictly analogue and literal representations of the way in which we have created a disposable objectification of our world and the environments in which we live. And there is an intriguing arc in Drooyan's work from the distressed and cluttered reality of his earlier object-filled works to the cooly austere harmony of his later art.
However, from working with real objects to the virtual object, and with a great variety of seemingly intransi- gent materials, Drooyan's construction of visual space is consistent. At a time when more and more artists are discovering the aesthetic possibilities of the computer and the Internet, John Drooyan offers proof that a genuine artist might say much the same thing with an array of tools and means.