David Linn is curated in to the 2012 Contemporary Realism Biennial at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Nearly 10,000 artists submitted to be a part of this prestigious show, with only 77 selected. The show itself “highlights the strength and innovation of America’s current trends in realism. America has enjoyed a long, rich history of Realist art from Colonial times to the present. We are proud to expand the discourse on this enduring tradition in presenting the 2012 installment of this dynamic contemporary exhibition.” The exhibition runs through October 28, 2012. A link to the 2012 Contemporary Realism Biennial is here.
Turner Carroll Gallery is pleased to present the newest body of work from acclaimed contemporary artist David Linn. Linn’s masterful compositions of figures floating through the atmosphere lightly embraced in dramatic billowing drapery, are rendered in incredible photorealistic detail and a soft monochromatic palette. The intense luminosity that bathes the figures and objects within his oil paintings immediately recall the masterful works of Michelangelo and other Renaissance masters.
This highly collectible American artist has experienced significant exposure in his career, as such prominent institutions such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Brigham Young, Harvard, and Nevada Universities have acquired his work for their permanent collections.
Please don’t miss this opportunity to witness the newest body of work from this important contemporary master.
American Art Collector
“David Linn: A Pilgrim’s Progress”
David Linn’s heavily metaphoric paintings come out of what he sees as his ability as an artist to be in tune with the connections and currents that tie our daily, mundane world to more universal and spiritual concerns.
“The title of this particular show is Substance of the Unseen, and, like most of my work, deals with what is invisible to the naked eye but marks everyone’s passage through mortality. I feel acutely attuned to these unseen facets of our existence, and that’s why I do what I do. My art is evidence to myself of what I can’t see but feel very acutely.”
While the work may at first seem laden with symbolism, Linn doesn’t want this to make collectors feel apprehensive about approaching and understanding the work.
“I create images that might seem cryptic or strange to the viewer, but to me they make perfect sense,” says Linn. “I fashion these things and put them out there as objects of devotion- devotion to what I believe and what I feel. The things I sense and feel defy verbal explanation and lead to imagery that articulates constructs that have multiple meanings and many layers and currents that go beneath out observable world.”
For Linn, the importance of these images comes not only from their ability to visually depict these issues, but to also show the variety of ways humans connect on this fundamental level.
“The world we inhabit is not just a natural world, but a world that’s also been manufactured and constructed over thousands of years,” says Linn. “And unseen threads weave a vast tapestry that is difficult to see given the proximity of our lives to it- but it is what binds us all together and creates the universal in art. The things that artists try to present are the things that have influenced mankind for thousands of years and are what unites us to those who have long passed on.”
Linn also sees these new paintings as having deeper, more personal meanings for him beyond the more universal aspects of the work.
“My art becomes tangible personal evidence of my own passage through mortality,” says Linn. “Another type of imagery that continually appears in my work is the solitary male figure, usually engaged in some kind of cryptic ceremonious activity. The face is usually obscured or difficult to recognize and represents some universal person picking his way across the terrain of life and engaging in actions and ceremonial activities that allude to commonplace, everyday experiences.”
Images or symbols seem to find ways of reappearing in many of these new paintings. One with special significance to Linn is the talus field, or boulder-strewn field that is usually found on the side of a mountain.
“The talus field for me is a metaphor for life,” says Linn. “If you’ve ever traversed a talus field, as you try to pick your way across it, the rocks are constantly shifting and each one affects the other. As in life, decisions and actions have a profound effect, but one that is largely unseen. For me, the talus field creates a terrain in which I can place objects and figures, much like a stage.”
Linn loves when collectors take the time to stop and notice his work, especially when considering the constant assault of images and input that are delivered to us on a daily basis.
“Stop to consider the art,” says Linn. “One thing I try to generate in my work is a sense of stillness, even when some sort of activity is taking place. I enjoy the act of introspection that art can generate in the viewer and its ability to trigger as of yet unasked questions the viewer may have regarding his or her own life and purpose in life. So many things transcend the visual world, and I want to suggest that there are unseen worlds that are more meaningful than what occupies much of our daily lives. This is not a denouncement of the material world but rather a reminder that there is more than that.”
The Collectors Say… “When we saw David Linn’s The First Labor, we immediately felt a strong emotional and spiritual connection to the piece. It is a powerful painting. It causes us to contemplate many aspects, physical and spiritual, of life’s journey.
David Linn takes a risky approach to painting. To begin with, he has a message, and there’s a long tradition of killing messengers. Linn strives to keep it subtle; he leaves a lot of blanks for the viewer to fill in. But it’s obvious his work is allegorical, which both attracts and repels contemporary gallery goers.
All the paintings in David Linn: The Impartial Light, opening today, Sept. 9, at Turner Carroll Gallery are infused with mythic qualities – something that in our age can easily seem oven the-top. Linn brings the dramatic heat of his subjects down a notch by using only brown and white paint. “If these same images were created using naturalistic color, to my eyes they would appear absurd, implausible, or weak,” Linn said by phone from his studio in Elk Ridge, Utah. ”For me color exists as a veneer on the surface of things. It doesn’t seem to go all the way through. I want to strip away that veneer and address the form and substance that underlies it.” The browns Linn uses have the look of toned or antique photographs – they’re strangely familiar, which makes us more willing to accept the symbolic world he presents. His technique is pure classicism. Linn builds his surfaces using underpainting and glazes. His lighting is so dramatic that the action in many of his paintings seems to take place under spotlights.
In And Then I Looked, a steep cliff blocks the path in front of the viewer, yet it is the only place with enough light to see. A wall of rock with vertical fractures glows white, like a frozen fountain, while everything else falls away into impenetrable shadow. Our minds read Linn’s deep darks, built of layers of translucent brown, as empty space. That space directs our attention to the light and the seemingly insurmountable obstacle blocking our way. In the artist’s view, life is filled with the possibility of spiritual evolution, but people often do not want to take the difficult path that leads them to growth.
The ground in many of Linn’s paintings is a talus field, a plane covered with rock debris. A talus field is one of nature’s most treacherous surfaces to walk on. Stepping on one rock can cause others to shift. Boulders several feet away can slip, quickly gathering force, crushing the unwary walker’s ankle or starting a landslide. “My figures are usually traversing a tedious or unpleasant landscape,” Linn said. ”That is how I view mortality – not as a bleak wilderness but a wilderness of unintended consequences.
In The Burden Above the talus field lies far above the tree line. Jagged rocky peaks stretch to the horizon. Wind-swept patches of snow could be a sign of spring or could be years old. Rocks hang from the sky by strings, yet the painting seems filled with peace. I don’t have the sense that those things are about to break loose and fall,” Linn explained. “It is a realm where normal gravity doesn’t apply”
Linn has spent a lot of time climbing to mountaintops and driving across the desert between California and Utah. Some of the things he has seen and felt in those places have become touchstones in his life, reminders that spiritual growth is possible. Above timberline and in places unmarked by trails, there is a temple-like sensation,” he said. “You are in touch with sensations you are usually far removed from in everyday life.”
For Linn it matters little if the thing that becomes a touchstone is in itself a positive event. Often while driving in the desert, he has seen smoke rising on the other side of the horizon. Linn knows the most likely source is the dust generated by large industrial smelting operations, yet, for Linn, the form rising from beyond the known represents life’s ultimate challenge and reward. The plumes of smoke in many of his paintings bring to mind the oil-well fires in Kuwait after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, an association some viewers have mentioned to Linn. But the artist finds the symbol too filled with personal meaning to abandon.
The figures Linn puts into this bleak, dangerous, yet serene landscapes are all self-portraits. ‘‘I use myself as a model loosely” he said. “I suppose my work has to be autobiographical to be authentic, but I intend them to be everybody because of our shared experience.” Linn faces a problem that has confronted all classical figure painters: if he painted people wearing contemporary clothing, they could become dated fast’, if he left the figures nude, they could be seen as bizarre. Linn solves the problem by partially wrapping his figures with strips of cloth, which evokes Renaissance paintings of Jesus raising Lazarus. The wrapping does bring up associations of funerals, Linn said. ”But that is subconscious. The figure is traveling through some aspect of mortality and in the end there will be a spiritual resurrection.”
Many of Linn’s self-portraits involve peril. In At the Abyss two male figures, both self-portraits face each other, leaning over the edges of opposing cliffs. They balance precariously by leaning into a boulder they jointly hold over their heads. “It is a visual conundrum.” Linn said. ”There is no way to get out of that problem unless both figures were to push outward at the same time and at exactly the same rate – and then the stone would drop.” The painting doesn’t show how deep the abyss is. Perhaps the men would fall a short distance’, perhaps they would plunge to their deaths. The serious tone of At the Abyss suggests imminent death so strongly that most viewers probably won’t even consider the possibility that the abyss could be shallow.
“An interesting evolution in my own artistic growth is losing my fear of having other people come up with far better interpretations of my work than I can,” Linn said. “When I was young, I used to think that if people didn’t get exactly what I was trying to say I had failed. But I have come to see that everybody brings something different to a work of art, and some bring something that is more deep and profound than what I could bring. I feel honored that I can create something that allows people to open their own packages in response to the work.”
“The Unseen Ceremony” represents perhaps the most important body of work to date by one of the United States’ most promising young artists. This exhibition at Turner Carroll Gallery is the only exhibition of Linn’s paintings outside of a museum venue for the entire year of 2003. This exhibition marks an incredible opportunity for Santa Feans/art lovers to see Linn’s paintings first hand, and we sincerely hope you will help make them aware of this special opportunity.
Some of the finest museums in the country are exhibiting David Linn’s paintings. In the last three years alone, his work has been the subject of several solo museum exhibitions across the United States, and his paintings have been included in some landmark exhibitions such as “Representing Representation”–one of the finest exhibitions of representational artwork in the country–at the Arnot Museum of Art in New York. Perhaps the reason so many museums are clamoring to exhibit David’s work is the astounding and rare level of quality, technique, and vision his paintings possess.
Part of the importance as well as the appeal of Linn’s paintings lies in their distillation of color and composition. Linn has refined his palette to the point that it is devoid of color distractions. As in a dream, he simplifies the color to sepia/monochrome. By removing the color distraction, Linn provides an environment which elevates the subject he depicts to the realm of the sacred.
In this exhibition “The Unseen Ceremony,” the subjects of the paintings are the human figure and the landscape. For Linn “the unseen ceremony” is the act of our simply living our lives in a manner that is conscious and aware enough to take in the painfully beautiful act of living, breathing, relating to each other, our passage toward death, and the preciousness of the natural world in which our lives are lived .
The events one tends to notice and remember in life are the extremes–the shocking, happy, traumatic. But what Linn attempts to show with his paintings is that even the most ordinary subject–a piece of cloth, for instance, in his “The Unseen Offering;” a cloud in “Terrain #3,” or the most ordinary act, such as touching one’s face in “Preparing #2” can be seen as the most utterly exquisite thing in the universe, if we are only aware enough to see so.
David Linn is a profoundly important artist of our time.