After first being introduced to the artists dealing with the decades long conflict in Lebanon after seeing Walid Raad‘s Let’s be Honest, the Weather Helped at MoMA’s Color Chart exhibition earlier this year, I quickly learned that John Jurayj is among the other prominent artists involved in this global discussion. In his second solo show at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles, entitled Untitled (We Could Be Heroes), which opened September 6th and runs through October 25th, John Jurayj continues his dialog of discontent regarding the violent civil war through new works in nontraditional media. Jurayj exposes the “power players” in the Lebanese Civil War through Untitled (15 Men), his series of portraits of top-tier cohorts, including then PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. The unconventional portraits are made from gunpowder screened onto mirrored stainless steel, and scaled to the size of an official embassy portrait. The eyes of the portraits are left blank, revealing the mirrored surface underneath and creating the eerie sensation of looking at oneself while looking at each piece. Across the main gallery from the portraits are a series of paintings made on colored mirrored plexiglass, which seem to be color abstractions at first, but reveal imagery of attacks, explosions and the ruins of real estate caught in the battles.¬†
John Jurayj lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He earned his MFA at Bard College in New York in 2005. He is currently in the “New Acquisitions” show at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum of Art in D.C.¬†He had a solo show at Massimo Audiello Gallery in New York City in the fall of 2007.¬†Upcoming shows include a solo exhibition at the Alberto Peola Gallery in Turin, Italy, opening November 2008 and a group show at Hafriyat Karakoy in Istanbul, Turkey, opening October of 2008.