Another month has come and gone, swiftly completing our highlight of Joss Monzon's traumatic drawings. With a busy month here at I.C.C., we only chose to showcase three of his works that were profound in terms of expression, sorrow, and execution.
Charcoal and Acrylic on Paper
This piece is an excellent example of how Monzon uses acrylic alongside charcoal in his work. The paint isn’t heavily applied, almost washed onto the drawing it seems. The use of it is subtle here, though Monzon isn’t always subtle with his paint application.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 is quite a frightening piece, as it illustrates the moment an Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner is liberated. Monzon delicately reproduces this feeling of dread, or fear, even as the man is being saved. Even though the man is reaching out, we can see he is not entirely relieved as there is still a sign of ambivalence in his eyes.
You may note that his left forearm (right side of image) is tattooed ‘2753648,’ telling us that he‘s either currently in Auschwitz or at least came from there at some point. Though I don’t know if it was intentional, I find it quite interesting that the 8 of this liberated mans tattoo is on his shirt. Prior to the identification numbers being inked onto prisoners skin, it used to be sewn into their clothes. Though perhaps this was an artistic choice, it almost implies how long this man was imprisoned.
As horrifying as the past may be to reflect on, it’s important to learn and to never forget. This image may be a part of history, but this mans story, among many others, are still prevalent today as concentration camps and ICE prisons are currently active.
Charcoal on Paper
As families across Canada sat down with their families celebrating what they believe to be thanksgiving, some of them fail to recognize its ties to being a colonial holiday.
The roots and history behind thanksgiving is often forgotten and perpetuates the erasure and attack of Indigenous culture. This is one of the many things that has led to legislation that denies the Indigenous community access to food, water, and housing - all of which are human rights.
Monzon created this piece, 𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯, to illustrate the story of an indigenous man waiting for access to clean water in his reserve. As previously mentioned, Monzon reiterates the stories of our world into these portraits, aiming to convey the emotions that derive from them.
Take this as a simple reminder to yourself, your families, and your friends, to not allow this community to become forgotten or masked by a holiday.
𝘐 𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳
Charcoal on Paper
The swollen and glossy eyes of this piece exemplify the severity of this persons grief, begging the question: What happened?
With Monzon’s titling, we immediately know that the individual’s sorrow is linked to their mother, but despite the title we can also make out the inscription ‘mom’ across the figures chest.
Monzon has gone on to say that this was meant to capture the moments just after this individual left their mothers funeral, however what we don’t know is what resulted in such a tragic event.