PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Dallas

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36 A rtist Jwan Yosef isn't exactly a household name — but perhaps to some he is, given that he's the husband of Ricky Martin. Yes, that Ricky Martin: former Menudo boy-bander-cum-actor-cum-author. I spent a bit of time with Yosef in advance of his current exhibition, "Come September," at the Goss-Michael Foundation (through November 16). Given my background studying art history in graduate school and working in development at museums for close to 20 years, I know a thing or two about the institutional art world. That rarefied ecosystem is filled with a great deal of snobbery when it comes to what is considered "acceptable pedigree." Yosef has that pedigree: He earned an MFA from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2011, and well before meeting his pop-star husband, he had an impressive list of exhibitions to his credit. His fame and credibility are resolutely not the result of his famous beau. The exhibition, titled "Come September," conjures the beginning of fall — a season change filled with moments of introspection, much like Yosef's work itself. His inspiration is wide ranging. "I've chosen to focus on three separate figures: legendary actor Rock Hudson, Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad, and my own father, Ahmad Yosef," he says. "Each has brought a deeper understanding of my own personal heritage and search for identity." I googled images of Rock Hudson while I had Yosef's Instagram feed open and spotted similarities between the two men — heroically tall, thick manes of hair upswept à la Mad Men, chiseled jaws, and phenomenal physiques. Yosef's handsome face hearkens back to publicity shots of early-era Hudson. Perhaps this is a sly reference to identity, a concept he frequently mines as subject matter. Yosef has four solo exhibitions opening this fall. Given that similar themes flow through them all, he added another layer to tie the suite together. He gave each exhibition a title appropriated from Rock Hudson movies. "I wanted to weave these separate shows with a common thread and chose to do so by almost naively picking out movie titles that didn't necessarily have anything to do with either the theme of the shows or the work in general," he says. Up next is "Send Me No Flowers" at Guerrero Projects in Houston, November 16, 2018, through January 4, 2019. In December, "Strange Bedfellows" opens at Stene Projects in Stockholm. M aterials play a leading role in Yosef's artistic process. "I've always focused on my relationship to art material and somehow what it does to me," he says. "It becomes this form of multilayered portraiture, where the object painted isn't necessarily in focus but rather the material itself. Yosef categorizes materials as "holy" and "unholy," meaning "traditional" and "nontraditional," through his choice of matte canvas and glossy acrylic. The artist creates a sexual tension with the slightly sexualized choice of his materials. The wetness to his paint and the high-gloss FACTOR TheHEARTTHROB BY BILLY FONG Jwan Yosef Jwan Yosef's Rock, 2018

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