Brian Calvin

by flaunt

Part of our artist portfolio from the Oh La La Land issue
Back in the 1990s, Brian Calvin began developing a figurative, non-narrative, pictorial style featuring landscapes and portraits steeped in the artist’s Californian roots. Close-up treatment of subjects, highly composed structures, as well as luminous colors laid flat endow these large-scale paintings with a strange temporality. In 2013, Calvin collaborated with designer Raf Simons, developing a series of works featured on shirts and jackets. “I don’t paint from models or photos of people.” Calvin says, “I use the process to create or perhaps even discover the figures in my paintings. I paint until the paintings generate some believability, some specificity.”

Can you describe your studio process?

I work on several paintings at once. It helps to keep things more open.

What do you think about first instincts versus weighed decisions? Do you always act on your first impulse, or do you plan your pieces meticulously?

I trust instinct and impulsivity to start the process. But I spend a lot of time looking at the paintings in between bouts of painting. I start to imagine a way to proceed and then I’m back at it, working intuitively. I guess you could say that my impulsiveness is tempered by long periods of reflection.

What spiritual beliefs, if any do you subscribe to? Crystals? Energy Healing?

Chakras? I’ve dabbled in various modalities, but really it is the act of creating that gives me that plugged in feeling.

Do you feel that there is a spiritual component to experiencing art? Does some of the energy of the artist transfer through to the viewer?

Some transference of energy can certainly transpire between artist, artwork, and its reception. While I wouldn’t necessarily define that as spiritual, it occupies overlapping terrain.