Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of visiting D Young V for an hour while he was busy installing his current show “Make an Effort” at White Walls Gallery on Larkin. D Young V (Dave Young) is a talented, SF local, whose stylized black and white images of a fictional, post-apocalyptic San Francisco have become staple wheat pastes of the city’s street art scene. I went to D’s solo show at Gallery 3 last year and was really impressed with his visual take-over of that space, the entire thing (walls, floor, EVERYTHING) was covered in his signature, appropriated symbols and patterning. This year he’s down stairs in the main gallery, so I was excited to hang out and preview what he had planned for the opening this Saturday.
When I walked in, D was busy working on a massive mixed media panel with an image of a black and white tank. For this show, he’ll be taking over the two downstairs rooms at White Walls with a really ambitious body of work. The front room will be filled with ink and paper drawings of various scales which will really focus on compositions that rework symbols and patterning. Included in this body of work are portraits of San Francisco locals including John Felix Arnold III and Jessica Hess. The back room will be an installation of mixed media pieces that will focus on reworking and contextualizing altered versions of his past work. As he cited in an interview with Dig In Magazine: “It provides a history of the images I have done leading up to this show, and presents them in a new light”. He also mentioned a mural installation but that wasn’t completed when I visited so you’ll have to check out the opening.
I first became familiar with D Young V as artist because of his street art and his collaborative pieces with Eddie Colla and Hugh Leeman. Because of that, I mistakenly made several wrong assumptions. One was that his background was primarily in Street art and that now, like many artists before him, he was making the transition into the gallery space. The second was that D’s artworks started out as stencils, before being transformed into black and white posters for wheat pasting or mix media panels. The reality is, that all of his pieces start out as pen and ink works on paper and that he really considers his street work an extension and exploration of his original gallery work, rather than visa-versa. He uses photos for reference (many by SF Photographer Shaun Roberts) but then he draws everything by hand using Micron 08 pens or acrylic inks. As he mentions in an interview, “Everything I am doing right on the street is an act of building up confidence and learning the dynamics of the game”. In this show there are a bunch of his original drawings. If you can, stop by and take a close look so you can see his meticulous attention to line quality.
As I mentioned earlier, conceptually D Young V’s work explores an imaginary, futuristic San Francisco. In this social fiction, the characters appropriate remnants of our society in their own, creating new contexts for our city’s own familiar but discarded symbols (think of a Road Warrior-esque, post-apocalyptic future, not the Jetsons). In this world, SFPD vests, I <3 TL pins and Chanel logos all come together in a stylized, portrait of the future. This is what I think is most interesting to consider when viewing D’s work. He takes familiar elements and symbols from our society and places them all together without a lot of context (he doesn’t say how society got to this point, there is no background story to read). Because he leaves contextualizing it up to the viewer, he also leaves interpreting this society up to debate. Do you see his use of military uniforms and weapons as mocking or glorifying our society’s current values? Is the female priestess figure a false idol? A Martyr? Just some random chick? If this is D Young V’s view of SF’s future citizens’ view and appropriation of our current society’s remains, what does that say about us? (Sorry, you might have to read that last line slowly). What legacy will we leave behind for future generations to interpret? In my opinion, D isn’t trying to push you to a certain conclusion; his artwork simply brings up a really subjective discussion that will constantly change depending on the predispositions of the people participating in the discussion at the time. Even if there are no clear answers, it’s a really interesting concept to consider and discuss.
“Make an Effort” Opens at White Walls Gallery this Saturday Night (7pm-Late) which is located at 835 Larkin St, San Francisco. The show will be on view until July 30th. Check out the gallery’s website for hours: http://www.whitewallssf.com/.
For more information about the D Young V, check out his website: http://www.dyoungv.com
by Maggie Pike for Warholian.com