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Black Book Gallery is pleased to present Sign Language, an exhibition featuring new works by Jeremy Fish and Sam Flores, opening November 12th from 7-11pm. Sign Language is the first 2-person exhibition show for the artists, although they’ve worked together for years and share a common visual language—inspired by their skater roots and the creative ethos of the Bay Area, where they both honed their artistic skills early in their careers.

For this exhibition, Fish and Flores each reinterpreted the 12 Zodiac signs through their own artistic lens. The Zodiac represents ancient man’s attempt to understand his role within nature and the cosmos by applying numerology to the seasons, life cycles, and the universe. The number 12 takes on central significance, not only as the number of months in the calendar year, but also as an imagined section of sky where planetary paths converge, divided into 12 constellations that each represent one of the 12 Zodiac signs.

Sam Flores concentrated his Zodiac series on the signs’ animal manifestations and humanity’s connection to these creatures. Like his previous works, which juxtapose anthropomorphic characters with vessels of divinity—such as goddesses and other spiritual beings—Flores’ Zodiac series bridges pop surrealism with the artist’s signature style, influenced by Japanese Edo-period landscapes, the comics of Mexican pulp fiction, and classical portraiture.

Jeremy Fish’s Zodiac series began as small black and white ink drawings, which eventually evolved into 12 acrylic paintings on wood. According to the artist, this body of work is “loosely based on the 12 signs of the zodiac, and are also loosely inspired by some folks I know who were born during those corresponding months.”

Fish is known for his playful and mischievous characters that adorn the walls of SF, as well as his artistic ability to coax memorable—and weirdly relatable—figures out of unassuming shapes and simple forms. His aesthetic invokes a menagerie of anti hero archetypes—drunken sailors and easy-riders, hitchhikers and gamblers—with an underlying thread of memento mori, or the visual reminder (most often represented by a human skull) that “no one here is getting out alive.”

California has always been a counterculture-mecca for hippies, seekers, spiritual gurus, and cults—many of whom consider the Zodiac to be a kind of oracle, providing sacred perspective and offering a path through the chaos that is human consciousness. [It also bears mentioning that the Zodiac has a storied history in the Bay Area specifically, thanks to the serial killer who went by the same name and terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s. He was never caught.]

Sign Language thus manifests a spectrum of meaning, much like the Zodiac itself—as an astrological map and a metaphysical mandala, a way to read the heavens; but also as a cultural signifier, connecting us to our earliest ancestors, and intertwined with politics and philosophy, poetic myths and urban legends.