October 14, 2006
A group of paintings and drawings by L.A. based artist Brian Calvin, making a subtle turn from his previously known work, will be on view for his second solo show at Anton Kern Gallery until October 14, 2006.
It has been said that Brian Calvin’s paintings explore the physiognomy of slackerdom, that they are populated with androgynous bohemians, skinnies in groups and trippy teenage characters coolly detached and aimlessly gazing at the spirit of melancholia (just to paraphrase a few noteworthy classifications). However, after biting into the reality of pausing-as-an-activity, or as the elders used to say the vita contemplativa, something else has come jotting into the foreground, namely the question of what is really at stake in these paintings. Perhaps it is, as critic Bruce Hainley pointed out, that “Calvin’s paintings oddly come to be about the figure as the appearance of the non-figurative, narrative as the appearance of the non-narrative” thereby recalling a conundrum of Greenbergian proportion namely the representation/non-representation struggle in which Calvin’s protagonists truly test the limits of their own existence.
In these new, seemingly simpler paintings the figure “as the appearance of the non-figurative” has clearly won over the narrative; gone are the vague descriptors of a generation apparently drenched in ennui. In reality, which means the reality of the viewer looking at the painting, the works have become more demanding since they refuse to offer a narrative structure. But at the same token they are physically deeply rewarding, portraying, by means of, say two heads in a complex formal entanglement, the presence of unrelenting beauty and real tenderness, or simply the splendor of truth.
2006Time Out New YorkReviews: Brian Calvin