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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Billy Reynolds at Black Maria Gallery

Here's a joke I loved to tell when I was a kid:
Q: What's grosser than a dumpster full of dead babies?
A: A live one at the bottom trying to eat it's way out.

Billy Reynolds is a great painter. You should go see his show that opens this weekend at Black Maria Gallery.

We both went through the same MFA program (two years apart) and studied under the same teacher, Brett Reichman (who is the best teacher at S.F.A.I.). We both ended up moving to L.A. after school, but we never met until years later. Though our bodies of work are very different, we both explore some similar ideas in the combination of cartoons and painting.

The first time I met Billy, I went to his apartment to see his work. It honestly scared me a bit... I wish I could paint like this guy- His painting technique is impeccable. He's like some perverse modern day Vermeer, setting up scenes and painting from life. But his subject matter doesn't exist in the real world, so, he sculpts models and builds elaborate miniature rooms, furniture and stages for his strange beings to inhabit. He then lights them and paints from "life." The end result is stunning.

He's not afraid to push his imagery into strange, perverse and often frightening realms. He doesn't make pretty art to hang over your couch- he makes paintings that would make people wonder about you if you did. But Billy's paintings are as beautiful as they are disturbing, and you should hang them over your couch because great art should provoke something in you.

Which brings me back to my dead baby joke... Billy's work reveals the darker ideas that lurk in everyone's head, the thoughts you don't want anyone to know about... His paintings are simultaneously grotesque and beautiful... perverse and funny. The imagery makes you uncomfortable, as he dazzles you with his painting technique. And you find yourself wanting to linger in this perverse world. He gives you a view into his twisted mind, but with a tongue in his cheek. As the narrative thread of his work unfolds, Billy manages to reveal himself to you a little bit at a time... and maybe even make you confront some of your own perverse nature... You may be disturbed, but there is great beauty in that feeling. And then you find yourself laughing uncomfortably along with the artist.

Anyway, enough of my babbling... Go see for yourself

He has an opening this Saturday at Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.

Billy Reynolds
May 19th - June 10th, 2007
Opening reception - Saturday, May 19th from 7 to 10:30 pm

Black Maria Gallery
3137 Glendale Blvd (in Atwater Village)
Los Angeles, CA 90039
323-660-9393 & 818-613-9090


1 comment:

Unknown said...

This review and recommendation to see Billy's work couldn't be more spot on. Billy employs Old Master techniques and skills depicting thoroughly modern images. This show is a "must see".