Facebook-inspired paintings question the effects of social media

Words such as "like," "post" and "share" have taken on new meanings worldwide because of Facebook and its 1.1 billion users.

But Venice artist Matthew LaPenta wants to remind people of the old meaning of those words, and he's turned to the easily recognizable blues and white of Facebook to send his message.


LaPenta exhibited a series of paintings at FactoryLA during Thursday's downtown Los Angeles Art Walk. (View photos of them in the gallery above. Click "show captions" to see LaPenta's explanation of each piece.)

On one canvas, LaPenta depicts two empty chat boxes, symbolizing the lack of substance in many online conversations.

Although the art calls out the negatives of social media, LaPenta says he's not interested in dismissing websites that he too uses.

"There is so much positive that can be done, and I want to see more of that, which is what I'm hoping to get to happen through my work," he said.

LaPenta consults with companies as an art director. He did the paintings on his own, starting with a hand-drawn sketch. He then made digital drawing on his computer, which he projected onto a canvas and filled in the shapes with acrylic paint.

Just before the Art Walk began, a new canvas arrived. He already knew what he'd paint on it.

"It's going to be a giant wedding ring, which is the ultimate status update," he said, noting that people even hire photographers to surreptitiously capture marriage proposals.

Does LaPenta plan to raise more questions about social media? "This is just the beginning," he said.