What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

April 8, 2021

Yashua Klos
How We Hold It All Together
UTA Artist Space
March 12 - April 10, 2021

Yashua Klos

Yashua Klos' works fuse drawing, printmaking, collage, abstraction and figuration. Most of his large-scale pieces are made from woodblock prints featuring textured striations, crosshatched lines and actual wood grain that have been precisely cut and then composited to create portraits. These portraits of people in his community and friends are monumental and intimate simultaneously. Filling the vast gallery of UTA Artist Space are framed works on paper, wall based paper constructions, as well as an installation in the back of the space that replicates what goes on in his studio and allows audiences to get a glimpse of his process and materials. Here, Klos has casually placed his various tools and a selection of smaller prints that could be collaged into the framed works, in addition to two large pieces of etched wood used in the printing of the (192 inches wide) paper construction TBT Feather, (all works 2021), an image of a huge curlicued feather from which emerge arrays of crystals and floating bricks.

Precisely assembled from disparate fragments, Klos' collages are never flat and this dimensionality gives the pieces uniqueness and power. He speaks about growing up in Chicago, aware of the segregation within the city and his works reflect the tensions between people and places. While extremely architectural, they are also figurative and narrative. Klos infuses the works with a sense of necessity, something he terms "survival strategies" while alluding to the strength necessary to persevere during difficult and unsettled times.

Eight large, framed portraits that hanging low on the wall filling one large gallery space are the focus of the exhibition. Each is a hybrid construction consisting of a disembodied, fragmented, head bisected by architectural detritus. The 84 inch high You Stare Off Into Yourself, features an African American woman's face that has been composited from different pieces of blue-hued wood grain prints. Her braided hair, fashioned into a bun is comprised from printed paper etched with cross hatched lines cut to shape the braids. Her head appears to be protruding from a concrete wall or barrier whose pieces begin to scatter across the composition. Similarly, in You Drift On Your Own, Klos creates the gigantic male head from collaged fragments of varying skin-toned colors. These heads have the structure of classical sculptures as they are assemblages of multiple angular planes. The face in You Drift On Your Own appear to be breaking through a wall of wooden fragments and cinder blocks. The top of the head appears to be a quasi-halo —a graphite drawing of swirling curls that is both hair as well as billowing smoke or water, similar to the textured images found in traditional Japanese woodblock prints. Although the figure's eyes gaze down, his expression is calm, despite the frenetic activity.

In addition to the portraits, Klos also presents three large unframed paper constructions that feature images of hands. All This Black Shit Valuable, Flower Father and Diagram of How She Hold It All Together contain printed images of open hands in different states of offerings. The hands in Flower Father, for example support a blue rose, whereas the long nailed, female hand in Diagram of How She Hold It All Together holds a precarious stairway of bricks in her palm.

In his large-scale works on paper, Klos montages fragmented images of urban detritus and human faces. These jarring and monumental paper assemblages are both personal and universal. They speak to longing and the ongoing struggles of African Americans without being heavy handed or didactic. Klos' pieces are hybrids containing numerous unrelated fragments that coalesce to become thought provoking and unforgettable constructions.