GATS, “Drifting Forest” at Hashimoto Contemporary

by Admin on 05/18/2015

For any resident of the San Francisco East Bay GATS’ intricately-designed masks, with its somnolent eyes and flowing teeth/beard/tentacles, seem to be an omnipotent presence: slapped, painted, and sprayed upon everything from the tiny crevices and alleyways between dilapidated buildings to the grand, expansive walls of abandoned warehouses. The Oakland-based artist cultivates imagery for this iconic figure from personal reflections upon society and the many disparate roles within it, particularly upon the unique dual identity as both anonymous graffiti artist and common citizen — its cryptic phrases and symbols change in reaction to the events and issues that threaten to influence change in the dynamics of the surrounding community.  GATS returns to exhibit artwork at Hashimoto Contemporary with Drifting Forest, following a successful dual show with Jessica Hess in 2014. This debut solo show further explores the artist’s perspectives upon the conflict and confluence of the urban and natural worlds. GATS has said the work comprising Drifting Forest gives representation to   “… my longing to have a relationship with nature, only to watch the forest drift farther and farther away.”

GATS speaks for many others’ similar experiences when relating about a somewhat failing endeavor to reconnect with the nature, or even simply to recognize what nature is and means to any person in contemporary life: ” I attempt to grow food in containers on top of concrete I don’t own,” says the artist, “and the only native trees I see float in from the ocean disregarded as trash. These skeletons of the forest are sacred as I morn in the graveyard that is urban sprawl.” With an artistic practice primarily rooted in the man-made, urban sprawl, creating artworks upon concrete-paved walls and rusty corrugated steel, GATS’ paintings and found art in this solo show introduce a greater attempt in a connection to the surrounding environment. In many works his iconic character is synthesized down to the singular eye, or a tessellation of eyes, intensifying the human quality of the still life objects. Viewers are unable to evade a relationship between themselves and the work as the humble eye stares back, unflinching. Multiple disparate applications of the mask figure and motifs to reclaimed drift wood panels and obsolescing items breathe new life into the metropolis refuse.


“Drifting Forest” will be on view at Hashimoto Contemporary 804 Sutter Street through Saturday, May 30th.