February 5 - March 12, 2016
Opening reception: Friday, February 5, 6-8 PM
It is with pleasure that Corbett vs. Dempsey announces The Meditations: Chicago 1991-1999 , an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Brian Calvin. This is the gallery’s second show of Calvin’s work.
Brian Calvin emerged over the last 15 years as one of the best known figurative painters from Los Angeles. With an approach that touches on Joan Brown and Alex Katz, he has a unique way of imbuing highly stylized portraits with a cavernous sense of emotional depth. As Californian as he certainly is, Calvin’s vision was steeped for an extended and formative period in the artistic atmosphere of Chicago, where he went to school (at the School of the Art Institute) and first stepped onto the world stage. In The Meditations , CvsD presents the first look back at these years, when as a prodigious but fully-formed artist he issued forth a sequence of distinct and unique bodies of work. Dark and brooding in tone, these paintings are also full of humor, a special melancholic, sometimes cruel, and deeply romantic funny that takes comics as its starting point and pushes them into uncomfortable places. A range of familiar characters populate the earliest of these paintings and drawings – Popeye, Olive Oyl, Fred Flintstone, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus. Placed in variously dramatic and melodramatic settings, perhaps chain smoking or attacked by flying knives, these comic regulars are imbued with a wholly new emotional interior, making them more tragic, uproarious, and utterly human. A subsequent series of Calvin’s works explored American history, particularly settling on the moment of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the fate of his assailant, John Wilkes Booth. The exhibition will include major works from these years and a large salon style wall of drawings and small canvases. The Meditations is accompanied by a 68-page hardback catalog, as well as Some Hours , a CD of music recorded in 1999 by Calvin and poet Devin Johnston, also featuring Jim O’Rourke on several tracks.