Brian Calvin

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Brian Calvin


25.5 × 25.5 cm | 10 × 10 in
85 ills | 128 pages

Contributors: Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Bruce Hainley, Brian Calvin, Alison M Gingeras, Anton Kern

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Moving through a selection of paintings from the last decade, this book exposes Calvin’s mastery of framing, focusing and re-focusing his subjects so that portraits, landscapes, facial features and reflections hover uncertainly between states of abstraction and figuration.

Calvin, who has gained a reputation as the painter of “pausing-as-an-activity”, has over the last few years concentrated on painting isolated heads and faces, activating and intensifying certain areas of the face while leaving others relatively calm.

Using acrylic paint, simple lines, a matte and flattened palette and skewed cropping, Calvin allows his androgynous, bohemian figures to take on an enchanted essence and spirit of melancholia.

The artist’s disarmingly low-key paintings explore a world populated with slackers; skinnies in groups; and trippy teenage characters, coolly detached and aimlessly gazing out from a sun-drenched, Southern Californian backdrop.

Despite the cartoonish protagonists, his work also reveals a keen power of observation, a rigorous approach to his craft and attention to the formal dimensions of his medium. Calvin’s highly stylised figures, palette and cropping have also earned him comparison with Alex Katz and David Hockney, who he appears to be at once emulating and parodying.

The publication features a conversation between Bruce Hainley, Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer and the artist, and an interview with Alison Gingeras.