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Monkey Business Of Shaping Celebrity

Random celebrity deconstruction by street artist XVALA will be seen as homage to the late programmer and internet activist, Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on Janurary 11, 2013.

"Aaron's legacy has had a huge influence on my art," said XVALA in a statement promoting the upcoming exhibition, "The Tonight Show with Celebrity Chimp," which opens at LAB ART Gallery on January 26, 2013.

XVALA's intimate gathering of source material, including scouring residential discards of entertainment and tech celebrities, has allowed him to create new works after targeting the trash of Robert Downey Jr., Lindsay Lohan and Taylor Swift for the sake of creating new works.

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It adds to his portfolio of artistic responses that comments on celebrity as manufactured product waiting to be obsolete, not unlike the inventions manufactured out of Silicon Valley. His social art-upheaval reminds you that image is distributed by random tech-ness, shaping a virtual gallery of longstanding evidence of simulated existence

"Everybody wants to be something they're not. So I became XVALA," the artist once said. "XVALA doesn't mean anything. It's just a way to have exclusivity."

Which may be his way of saying that the tech-celebrity-distribution and its followers be nothing more than lab-tech monkeys, seen by the recurring chimpanzee head image with circling google gaze, slapped with heart-shaped lipstick smacked on as a drive-by kiss.

Celebrity Chimp is the harsh symbol for seeking meaning when celebrity meets conflict in the spotlight -- now expanded by being on a simulated talk show.

The exhibition will offer limited-edition series of paintings that use reflecting powder made from broken down glass, which was collected and mixed from the residential trash from Downey Jr.,Lohan, and Swift, set against the environs of a talk show.

"Celebrities' personal lives become talk show-related material to shape ratings -- my work represents celebrity downfall and how a star can rise again," said XVALA in the release for the exhibition." Lindsay Lohan could learn from Robert Downey Jr., and Taylor Swift could learn from Lohan."

Or the Lohan message can reach federal prosecutors attempting to become a legal celebrity by chasing down a 26-year old programming prodigy. That offers more meaning to the repeated image of a monkey with distracted eyes.


"The Tonight Show with Celebrity Chimp" will debut at LAB ART Gallery, on January 26, 2013 at 7 p.m., located at 217 S. La Brea Ave. As can be expected, the statement adds there is no celebrity or "The Tonight Show" endorsement claimed or implied. Photo: "The Tonight Show with Celebrity Chimp" by XVALA.

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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