Brian Calvin - Tote Bag
Brian Calvin - Tote Bag, 2019
Color screen print on canvas, edition of 150
42 x 39 cm, approx. 70 cm with handles
16 1/2 x 15 3/8 inches
Almine Rech Editions' new collaboration with artist Brian Calvin represents the painting 'Façade', shown during his third solo exhibition at Almine Rech Paris in 2019. This screen printed tote bag, made out of 100 % cotton canvas, is an edition of 150 pieces.
Brian Calvin's women are framed so tightly that there is no “off-screen”. Their noses, obviously spared by plastic surgery, form triangles that structure the compositions, as do their eyes like so many disks; their fingers form verticals and their fingernails small, oblong, coloured surfaces punctuate the whole.
John Wesley and William Copley, two painters of the last century exposed to the tail end of surrealism and early days of Pop Art, provide some background about the highly diverse inspiration of the artist's painting, which is actually very difficult to pigeonhole. To these, one could easily add the names Piero della Francesca, Matisse, Philip Guston, Balthus, Alice Neel and Mondrian. Both figurative and abstract, Brian Calvin’s painting clearly expresses his desire to be neither one nor the other, but rather both at the same time. His multiple pictorial strategies borrow from the history of both in equal measure, with references to markedly varied pictorial currents: in truth, it borrows from the entire history of painting or, at the very least, from its true inventors. Calvin’s painting is the kind that is looking for solutions.
"A few times every week people ask, ‘What do you paint?’ and I answer ‘People’. I didn’t try to create these iconic characters, they kind of developed slowly over time, and then they were just there. Sometimes I can feel pretty ambivalent about how some of them look. Recently I think they are taking a different turn and they’re starting to have a more naturalistic quality again. But certainly the kind of bigger eyes, bigger lips, so simplified, it sounds ridiculous but it wasn’t intentional. By stripping things away and not looking at real people, just making the painting, just going back and forth, they kind of developed, and then I wanted to paint the universe they inhabit. I think it’s one reason why for someone like Wesley, or William Copley – who became influential later – what could be called style seems to be an organic one that comes I don’t quite know why because they don’t look natural, but then all you do is kind of inhabit that universe and all of the innovation and stuff comes from within that closed system. As opposed to, you know, artists who every few years develop an all-new line. It might be very exciting but that’s not how my brain works. I keep finding what feels like new life in repetition, falling deeper down the rabbit hole."
- Brian Calvin