Ex Libris: New Work by Michael Pajon
Opening Receptions 6-9pm, April 1st and May 6th, 2017
Exhibition runs through May 27th, 2017
An Ex Libris or bookplate is a small label or stamp that denotes ownership of a book. A mark of provenance, it can be as elaborate as a custom printed seal bearing an allegory or motif with a decorative flourish reflecting the principles or interests of the books owner, or as simple as an institutional stamp or hand written inscription. Above all my source materials, antique books, are by far the most integral to my artistic practice, including volumes of heavily illustrated books on Natural History, Physiology, Fairy Tales, Folks Tales, History and Botany to name a few. Many covers of these antique tomes are adorned with beautifully embossed typeface with flourishes of filigree and ornamentation. Others offer luscious symmetrical images and illustrations designed to lure buyers and hint at the content of its pages. Often by the time I come upon them they are heavily weathered with failing bindings and torn and yellowed pages, a shade of their original form, their purpose aged and obsolete.
Two years ago, shortly after my last exhibit at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, I suffered a catastrophic injury. I am truly very lucky to be writing this today. Though as devastated as my body had so suddenly become, my spirits remained intact with the help of my partner, my family, and the incredible network of friends and fellow artists who supported me through an extremely dark and painful time in my life. Within the first month I went from being confined to a bed to using a wheelchair. A couple of months later and I was up and walking with a cane. As I recovered I chipped away at new work thanks to a make shift studio my friends helped set up. The pain sapped my energy and much of my focus so I sat with a lot of work in various states of completion. I was thrust into a state of being very aware of my body. I could no longer sit and sift through materials for hours on end and fatigued easily. As time passed I got stronger and more capable of managing my pain. A faucet turned and focus began to trickle in.
This body of work is a product of my recovery and is a testament to the healing power of creativity. Making these pieces enabled me to take ownership of the pain and transform it into something beautiful. Many pieces reference the body and pay homage to my doctors and to healers of all kinds. They contain symbols of growth and renewal and speak to mending the sick and the broken. Others are steeped in the labors, obstacles and journeys of mythological figures in various states of their chimeric forms. Gods and Goddesses with the hubris, raw emotion and fallibility of man, embodied as a reflection of our imperfect world. Their landscapes inhabited by tricksters, demons and spirits with sinister intentions, the day-to-day manifestations intended to hurt or distract us from our path. There are symbols and signs of cruel and beautiful fate, sisters tugging at the strings, taking a measure of thread.
Albeit disjointed as a whole, this work is of books, their spines broken, their innards exposed, manipulated and reformed and stamped with my Ex Libris. Fruits of the past breaking down to become fertilizer for my soil and sown into all that blooms from it.
*All works are available unless otherwise specified