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Anton Kern Gallery: Brian Calvin - 4 Sept 2014 to 4 Oct 2014

Current Exhibition

4 Sept 2014 to 4 Oct 2014
Tuesday - Saturday 10 am - 6 pm
Thursday, September 4, 6-8pm
Anton Kern Gallery
532 West 20th Street
New York, NY
New York
North America
T: 1 212.367.9663
F: 1 212.367.8135

Brian Calvin
September 4 – October 4, 2014

Artists in this exhibition: Brian Calvin, Lothar Hempel

Brian Calvin

September 4 – October 4, 2014

For his forth solo show at Anton Kern Gallery, Los Angeles-based artist Brian Calvin presents a group of paintings of faces, closely cropped or just of mouths and lips, as well as figures posing, some reflecting in a mirror. Calvin’s severe framing, along with his carefully scaled compositions, creates a narrowing and fixing of focus. It shapes a sense of proximity and personality, infusing the work with strength of character and a jarring presence.

Calvin, who has gained a reputation as the painter of “pausing-as-an­activity,” has over the last few years concentrated on painting isolated heads and faces. He has activated and intensified certain areas of the face while leaving others relatively calm. The focal point of intensity migrated from the eyes to the mouth. “I started isolating or focusing on the lips,” he explains, “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.”

With minimal modeling of the facial features and backgrounds – almost touching onto a sense of Japanese allegorical flatness – the canvas is divided into clear shapes of sunlight-drenched colors, giving weight to the eyes and lips, revealing brushstrokes mainly for their chromatic values and occasionally for expressive accents. Eyelids are heavy under rainbows of eye shadow; irises sparkle and bounce back sky-blue, turquoise or sun-yellow reflections. It’s the mouths though, the glossy lips, inviting and longing, slightly split open and revealing beguiling gapped-teeth, or an orange, oblong-shaped tongue, that are the most arresting in these new works. They seem to address the viewer, demanding his or her attention, requesting an immediate sensory response.

In a triptych depicting the actor Matt Dillon, right after the peak of his Tiger Beat moment, posing next to the artist himself and his wife Siobhan, the trio copies each other’s attitudes and stance. Similar to the face close-ups, the viewer eventually looses sight of the recognizable (a pair of lips, a well known actor) and progresses into reading the painting as reverberating between just being paint and the works’ suggested probability and verisimilitude. Despite their non-naturalism, Calvin’s paintings become intensely believable. Calvin, the painter of the contemplative life, of paintings in which the figure appears as the non-figurative, makes the act of looking the inherent narrative. This certainly demands more of the viewer since the paintings refuse to offer any additional narrative structure, but then a reward is offered, a glimpse at unrelenting beauty, tenderness, and the timeless splendor of truth.

Calvin’s work has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions in U.S. and European galleries, and was included in such group shows as California Landscape Into Abstraction: Works From The Orange County Museum Of Art, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; We the People, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project, New York, NY; Dystopia, CAPC Museé d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France; Electric Mud, Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston, Houston (2009), If Everybody Had an Ocean, Tate St Ives in association with CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (2007/2008), After Cezanne, LA MOCA, Los Angeles (2007), the California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA (2004) and Dear Painter, paint me..., at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, (2003). Calvin lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

* A new monograph Brian Calvin published by Black Dog Publishing, UK, will accompany the exhibition.

Back gallery:

Lothar Hempel

September 4 – October 4, 2014

Like a futuristic stage impresario, and seemingly without effort, Hempel choreographs figures and objects, matches disparate materials and techniques, and arranges geometric shapes, luminous colors, and sinuous organic lines into paintings and drawings of self-conscious aplomb. The artist applies acrylic, ink, oil, crayon, spray-paint, and pencil to primed, screen-printed aluminum sheets, often augmenting these panels with found objects such as coins or crystals, creating works that reveal a great sense of syncopated rhythm and temperament. Hempel’s work displays a kind of sprezzatura, an "aristocratic cool", that in the past has related to frank amorality or illicit pleasures, but may still be understood as a metaphor for the freedom and release sought from the weight of artistic tradition and critical expectations.

* On September 5 and 6, 2014, The Kitchen is screening Lothar Hempel’s new film Mäusebunker (Mice Bunker). At once dystopian vision and subjective portrayal of Germany since the early 1980s, Mäusebunker is performed by lay actors, all friends and colleagues of the artist in Berlin. The screening will be accompanied by a live reenactment-performance.

Lothar Hempel has exhibited continuously since the 1990s, most recently in solo shows at La Conservera Centro de Arte Contemporanea, Ceuti (Murcia), Spain (2012); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2008); and Le Magasin, Grenoble (2007). His work has been included in the Herzliya Biennial for Contemporary Art, Herzliya, Israel (2011) and group shows at Contemporary Art Andratx, Mallorca (2011); Louis Vuitton Cultural Space, Paris (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2010); MACRO Testaccio, Rome (2010); Beaufort 03, Ostend; Athens Biennale, Athens (both 2009). He lives and works inberlin, Germany.

Both exhibitions open on Thursday, September 4 and will run through Saturday, October 4, 2014. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am - 6 pm. For further information and images, please contact the gallery at (t) 212.367.9663, or email:

Upcoming exhibition: Chris Martin (October 9 – November 15, 2014)

Anton Kern Gallery 532 West 20th Street New York, NY 10011 tel 212.367.9663

Anton Kern Gallery

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