The New Salon takes the tradition of the salon in art history as a site of rebellion against the norm, infusing it with the diverse and often fantastical narratives prevalent in New Contemporary figurative art. This exhibition features an eclectic mix of artists working in Pop Surrealism, Street Art, and Graffiti, among others.
The rebellious spirit of The New Salon can be traced to the groundbreaking influence of Robert Williams. In the 1970s, Williams emerged into an art world dominated by the growing Conceptual art movement, Minimalism, and Abstraction. Beginning his career on the California hot-rod scene in the 1960s, Williams sought a platform that celebrated the artistry of figurative painting and the human imagination. In 1994, he founded Juxtapoz Magazine, sending out a rallying cry to artists, many of whom were inspired by Surrealism, Pop art, Graffiti, and Street Art. With a design that referenced comic books and psychedelic rock posters, the magazine created an alternative art space for a generation of artists and art collectors who were disillusioned with the direction of the mainstream art world.
The exhibition will feature a broad range of work, including the Photorealistic and Surreal paintings of Robert Williams, Medieval-inspired works by Daniel Diaz, and the robot-like Deities of Kumkum Fernando. Notable artists such as Mab Graves, Kukula, Lori Nelson, and Todd Shorr exemplify Pop Surrealism’s figurative techniques and fantastical narratives. Shepard Fairey represents Street Art, and the renowned New York-based writer Faust demonstrates the hand style of Graffiti. Folk Art and Americana find expression in the works of Dennis McNett (Wolfbat), MSRA, Ben Venom, and Rachel O’Donnell.
Among the distinguished lineup is Los Angeles-based artist Lauren YS (they/them), who will contribute a site-specific mural. Known for their mystical creatures and psychedelic style, they invite viewers to explore the boundary between reality and fantasy, enhancing the immersive experience of the exhibition. Though stylistically varied, this exhibition gives visitors a window into an alternative art world that Juxtapoz fostered, demonstrating its profound influence on contemporary art and culture.
The New Salon: A Contemporary View is organized by the Asheville Art Museum and guest-curated by Gabriel Shaffer.