• JEFFREY VALLANCE: Enamel Paintings

  • Vallance paintings
  • Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present a selection of enamel paintings by Jeffrey Vallance.  For over thirty years Vallance has been known for his drawings, sculptures, installations and performance-based works which make reference to his childhood in California, voyages to the Polynesian Islands and Iceland, residences in Las Vegas and the Arctic, sojourns to the Vatican, and his celebrated Blinky the Friendly Hen project in 1978, when he held a funeral service for a frozen supermarket hen at Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park.  Vallance’s diverse practice offers a unique perspective on the vernacular that is intrinsic to our notions of faith, celebrity, ritual, populist language, and villainy.  This selection of enamel paintings highlight political figures, actors and personalities, writers, and even other artists such as Mike Kelley (the drawing is featured below and the enamel painting is in the collection of The Hammer Museum).  With both humor and an analytic eye, Vallance examines how symbolism and idolatry can shape our past and present understandings of “cults of personality,” both good and evil, horrific and heroic.  

  • “In the late 1970s and early 1980s I produced a series of paintings featuring images of reptiles and amphibians, Polynesian Tikis and television personalities. These works were painted with Rust-oleum and Krylon industrial enamels, which were not designed for fine art purposes, as the paint is too viscous to easily render fine details. Each brushstroke must be forced onto the painting surface. This gives the works an oddly stiff and awkward appearance. I also started applying decals to the surfaces of the paintings, often using graffiti decals intended for use on professional model-train dioramas. I had used the same basic technique in my childhood, when I built model hot rods.” -Jeffrey Vallance

  • “This series makes use of these same decals, which I’ve preserved all these years. Many were produced during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 to 1981, so they include such political slogans of the time as “Nuke Iran” and “A Weenie for Kohmeenie.” As well, I find it fascinating how knee-jerk populist jargon during a crisis situation found its way into a seemingly apolitical hobby. To me, these decals are ridiculous — while I’m working, I like to imagine middle-class, middle-aged men delicately applying “I’m Dusted” or “LSD” or gang-slogans like “Crips Rule” decals to their train layouts.” - Jeffrey Vallance

  • “This work begins where I left off in the early 1980s, with such historical political figures from the period as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and the Ayatollah Khomeini. Of particular influence was one painting I made in 1981, when I graduated from art school and first started exhibiting professionally: a portrait of television news personality Connie Chung, who was very popular at the time. The Chung painting essentially functioned as a template for the new work, which, while featuring the same enamel-on-board-with-decals format, has been extended to include more contemporary subjects — Kim Jong Il, Thich Nhat Hanh, Temple Grandin, Leonard Nimoy, the kings of Sweden and Tonga, Mike Kelley and Satan. As with many of my projects that feature eminent personalities, this series came to focus on two opposing categories: pop-culture heroes, artists and writers versus dictators, despots and scoundrels.” - Jeffrey Vallance

  • Born in 1955 in Redondo Beach, California, Vallance currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He received a BFA from California State University, Northridge in 1979 and an MFA from the former Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles in 1981. A 2004 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow, the artist is currently a visiting assistant professor in New Genres at the University of California in Los Angeles.


    Among Vallance’s many solo exhibitions since the mid-1970’s, his most notable include The Vallance Bible at Centre d'édition contemporaine in Geneva, Switzerland (2012), The Word of God at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (2011-2012), The Vallance Bible at Centre d'édition contemporaine (2010), Lars Pirak of Lapland, an intervention project at Ájtte Sámi Museum in Jokkmokk, Sweden (2009), Relics and Reliquaries at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, CA (2007), De Kabinetten van De Vleeshal in Middelburg, Holland (2007), Preserving America’s Cultural Heritage at LACMALab, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006), among others.

    His work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Barbican Centre in London, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, TX, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf IN Germany, Tate Gallery in Liverpool, UK, UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Witte de With Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, among others.