A man levitates over an air mattress in a blandly furnished living room; the wrinkles and bulges of an orange plastic shopping bag are juxtaposed with the ridges of epic snow-capped mountains; blue doggie graphics are stamped over the photograph of a gray brick wall. These eye-catching, but ultimately inscrutable images are the focal points of three of the dozen or so posters recently produced by Juan Amaya.
The catch with these posters, though, is that they are advertisements for Event w/ Ambient Music, the art show in which they, the posters, are the works on-view.
For Amaya, event posters are an intriguing part of visual culture from which to build-upon and make new work. Posters can be artistic, but there’s always a function to them: they let you know about a concert, protest, birthday party, whatever. In these posters, though, the message gets lost. All of the images are so different and none of them really have a singular point, so their utility is negated.
What Amaya has done so well here, though, is choose and craft images that are not merely weird, but, rather, puzzling. They invite the viewer in with the promise of making their meaning known, but, once you’re there, looking at them, they refuse to resolve themselves or leave you with any one particular point. It’s not just that they’re crazy and don’t make sense; it cuts deeper, they’re…enigmatic. This enigmatic quality and the way in which their tone is consistently enigmatic in the same type of way is what makes them effective as works of art.
Adding to this is Amaya’s reference to ambient music in several of the posters. If a typical event poster, for the sake of making an analogy, strikes the mind like a pop song, then Amaya’s posters caress the mind like ambient music—they’re lush and mesmerizing, a dream.