January 2017

Jovi Schnell

Jovi Schnell’s colorful abstract paintings and collages have been a fixture on the San Francisco art scene for a decade. For "Electric Space Gardeners," the artist has created two small works on paper, four medium-sized canvases, and three large canvases. They suffer no loss of the trademark intensity and playfulness of her previous work, all of it suggesting a synthesis of folk/tribal art archetypes and psychedelia. It's exuberantly comic mysticism. Paul Klee, Frank Lobdell, Joan Miro and Rex Ray are varied but plausible influences. Schnell has evidently also been thinking about Goethe’s hypothetical Urpflanze, or archetypal plant, the progenitor of the vegetable kingdom, and its triple modes of potentiality, growth and adaptation.

“Solar Flowered” and “Snow Flowered” are the small works. The former is a seeming cross-section of dark earth teeming with starburst blossoms, flower-feet, organs and leaves, all connected by tubules. The latter is a mechanism composed of glass bulbs (reminiscent of solar-powered radiometers) set atop a candelabra base or cosmic-tree trunk. The medium-sized works are “Push-Pull,” “Peek-a-Boo,” “Wish Fulfiller” and Wisteria Well,” with the last two pieces identical in size and format, to be seen as a pair. These depict visionary — i.e., simplified and abstracted — plant silhouettes, perhaps deriving from the Mexican papel picado, or cut-paper tradition, and bearing the inscriptions “Desire” and “Flows,” respectively. They serve as benign symbols of nature always finding a way to multiply. The large canvases, “Plant Cabaret,” “The Late Bloomers” and “DATAHERBMATIC: 100 Uses for a Herbarium, $64 Provide Inspiration for Painters,” plunge us, like Alice in Wonderland, into the unseen, buzzing garden of the natural world, filled with mysterious presences and signals.