Josh Beliso (b.1988) is an artist known for his unique adaptation of the classical stone medium. He was raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles, immersed in the sleepy, sun-kissed lifestyle of beach culture. Mundane objects act as muses for his fluid, theatrical interpretations of the everyday: hairstyles, accessories, and the foods we consume throughout passing centuries are immortalized through the archaic medium of stone, creating relevance and permanence out of fleeting moments, objects, emotions, and eras. Using an archaic medium such as stone to embody mundane objects is both a love letter to materialism and a subtle critique. Stone is powerful by design, and exudes a monumental quality even before it is touched by the artist or. craftsman. Marble is earth in its most pure state, forming from calcium rich limestone containing the shells, coral deposits, and bones from ancient organisms. The aesthetics of stone and marble can be manipulated, but their essence remains untouched. The alchemy of this transcendence is to turn stone to milk, or a Q-tip.
Produced for his USC Roski School of Art and Design MFA thesis exhibition, Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana, Joshua Beliso juxtaposes the traditional notions that characterize American humor with the art historical gravity of carved sculpture. Beliso’s works from a satirical standpoint, mixing mediums of stone and marble with popularized images of gag comedy tropes.
His Banana Splits (2020) with its absurd, large-scale composition, is highly intentional on Beliso’s part and stems from a lifelong interest in comedic gag toys (such as the banana), jest, silliness, and playfulness. As he pushes the monumental qualities of this natural material, Beliso imposes transitional subject matter outside thousands of years of historical context into contemporary genres. His investigation into the function of jest is expressed through select objects of humor and traditional gag comedy.
As marble is typically associated with classical antiquity, Beliso uses a culturally valued medium with images of tchotchkes to comment on the commodification of marble, and devalues it with déclassé connotations of gag comedy. As the image of the banana has become a cliché in American popular culture, Beliso de-contextualizes the gag toy from its initial trope by transforming the bright yellow banana into a muted grey, classical marble–an unrecognizable, yet ironic depiction. – Leah Perez
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Leah Perez is from Los Angeles, California. Leah Perez completed her Bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Latino and Latin American Studies at the University of Southern California, with a focus on visual art and media of both U.S. Latinxs and Latin Americans. She is currently pursuing her MA at Roski School or Art and Design at USC. Her research interests lie at the intersection of art and ethnic culture, particularly focusing on contemporary and historical aesthetics of Black and brown communities in the scope of Los Angeles. Leah currently works at the USC Pacific Asia Museum, as the coordinator for their Teen Ambassadors Program.