If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then how might that look in art? Los Angeles-based artist John Millei investigates male and female personalities through chaotic, abstract brush strokes and lively patterns that resemble the human body. His first solo exhibition, Anthropomorphic Abstraction, which features some older pieces and two new bodies of work, opens at Quint Contemporary Art (7547 Girard Ave. in La Jolla) from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and will be on view through April 13.
“There’s a beauty he’s created in these pieces," says gallery director, Ben Strauss-Malcolm. "We couldn’t help but want to feature them.”
To explores the theme of gender, Millei says he asks himself one question, “How do I make abstract paintings that read as a reference to a male and female quality?”
Gender differences can be a heavy topic, and Millei notes that he's not aiming for deep commentary.
“It’s clear that I’m being playful, not being sexist, or dead serious,” he says. “I’m having fun with these paintings. These paintings are about paintings, the optimism of painting and the viewing of paintings.”
Millei says he's interested in the different ways men and women function, and he's observed how viewers gravitate, and react, to his paintings.
“When men look at the male paintings, there’s a kind of posturing—kind of when men first meet each other,” he says. “With females, if they’re attracted to women, I see them being flirtatious with the painting. Maybe a little guilty pleasure. Maybe they’re not supposed to like this.”
Millei says part of his inspiration comes from his fascination with Picasso’s early work and his longtime admiration for abstract figurative painting.
“I just decided that it was really important to take on these themes of male and female because this is the tradition of paintings,” he says. “I always wanted to talk about these things, so I guess this is my way of doing that.”