Monday, March 07, 2016

From Face to Face

“I keep finding what feels like new life in repetition,
falling deeper down the rabbit hole.”
Brian Calvin

The Los Angeles based figurative painter Brian Calvin earliest involvement with the arts was through music. But, while he was studying for his BA at the University of California at Berkley Calvin took some art classes.

As he told Frog’s Eric Troncy “Once I finished there I knew I wanted to continue doing this, it seemed logical to go to graduate school just to get on some level, have a studio and avoid having a job for a while. So I moved to Chicago because I wanted to have new experiences and ended up doing my MFA at the Art Institute of Chicago.”

And as he explained to Hero Magazine’s Thomas Davis “I started painting right around 1990. I enjoy playing music just as much, if not more so, but I think my temperament is better suited for painting.
Calvin’s early works were based on Pop characters like Popeye, Charlie Brown and Olive Oil.
About which he has said “They are very brown, beat up paintings. I was trying to take away the graphic quality of them and make them seem more kind of lived-in people.”

Over the intervening years, Calvin has lightened his palette, tightly cropped the figures in his works and abandoned the cartoon characters for his own imagined cast of characters.

As he has said “The portraits are all invented and I was focused on how much information I could strip away and still have a visual and an emotional potency…  Although the figures I paint are entirely invented, I pay close attention to how people construct their own identity and that certainly comes to bear on the paintings as they progress.”

As Calvin journeys down this path he continues to crop his works as he moves from what the Wall Street International magazine described as “pausing-as-an-activity” to an exploration of facial features.

As he says “I started isolating or focusing on the lips as a way of altering the context of the faces. When the viewer is confronted with Lisp or Eternal Lips, it changes the reception of the faces.”

Calvin’s current exhibition Hours is on show at the Almine Rech Paris gallery until the 12th of April.

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