Smile To Your Life

Jonathan Wallraven

September 8, 2011
Reception 7pm – 10pm

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Kokoro Studio is pleased to announce a solo show of new work by Jonathan Wallraven, on view through September 29. “Smile to Your Life!” is Wallraven’s first San Francisco solo exhibition, and will feature black-and-white ink drawings on panels and wall-hung sculptures.

Wallraven’s drawings depict slightly grotesque women, open-mouthed, with their words and thoughts spelled out inside irregular speech bubbles. Phrases like “Smile to your life!” “Add it up!” and “Embrace nothing” are imperative statements bordering on the non-sensical. Wallraven likens these phrases to zen koan, short questions or statements that require intuition, rather than rational thinking, to decipher. The nonsense quality, along with heartfelt sincerity and a healthy sense of humor, disarms the audience to reveal deeper truths about the self.

This absurd language is accompanied by equally absurd images. The unrealistic, Photoshopped women found in magazines and print advertising are the source material of Wallraven’s figures. He alters their already distorted forms through a transformative drawing process. A small original drawing in made in his distinctive style, then a skewed projection of that drawing is traced onto the wall or a panel. Recently, Wallraven added another layer of distortion by projecting his final drawings onto three-dimensional surfaces. The images stretch and warp across the object’s planes, becoming unrecognizable at certain points. The result, although far removed from reality, replicates the combination of discomfort and humor that marks everyday life.

Jonathan Wallraven is an American artist who was born and raised in Tennessee. He studied studio art at Middle Tennessee State University, where he was trained in printmaking, drawing, and sculpture. He is currently an MFA candidate at California College of the Arts. Wallraven lives and works in San Francisco.

“Smile to Your Life!” will be on view at Kokoro Studio from September 8 to 29, 2011. There will be a public opening reception on Thursday, September 8 from 7 to 10pm. Kokoro Studio is located at 682 Geary Street in San Francisco, just a few blocks from Union Square, and is open Thursday through Friday from 2pm to 8pm, Saturday from 12pm to 7pm, and by appointment. For more information, please and