ME: What was your inspiration for this show and how did you select your subject matter?
BP: Greek mythology has always been a source of inspiration for me. Each story holds a metaphor and a meaning that embodies a simple truth. Read together, the myths are a patchwork of parables that speak to the complexity of being human. Rather than convey a strict dogma, they can be read impartially, and the truths can be drawn in layers.
For our annual portrait show, I tend to spend inordinate amounts of time thinking of and throwing away ideas. The idea, however complex, can always be embodied by the right word. Sometimes I have a great idea but no title, so I wait, and I think. The solution to this year’s theme finally hit in January at the Getty. The palatial architecture and the sense of grandeur feels a bit like the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, but the sense of the modern is all pervasive. As I looked down over LA I thought...Olympus, and something clicked.
Teasers (Left to Right): Brianna Angelakis, Hannah Yata, Leilani Bustamante, John Wentz
ME: How did you select the participating artists for this show?
BP: For this show I selected a number of artists who we have worked with and who I thought would embrace the idea fully. Additionally, I reached out to artists whose work I have long admired and respected. We extended the 12 classical Olympians to include 8 others who have often been included in the hierarchy of Olympus so as to be able to include all the artists I wanted for the show. What I was looking for in all was a sense of mystery, the ability to paint metaphorically, with strong imagination and a grounding in symbolism, mythology, and the figure — In short, extraordinary artists with a sense of the “epic”.
Portrait of Dorian Gray by Bradley Platz, 2013
ME: This is your 3rd annual portrait exhibition. What is it about portraiture that inspires you as an artist and curator?
BP: I think my love of portraiture might actually stem from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray rather than any particular painting throughout history. For me, portraits are the most intimate (and dangerous) form of painting. A well executed expression, a hint of a smile or the grace of a pose all can evoke a strong magnetic response in the viewer, as if a secret has been shared. Where landscapes, grand or otherwise, immerse the viewer in an environment, the portrait confronts the viewer directly, offering a glimpse of the soul.
"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter."
―Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Works from Notorious: Jaxon Northon, Laura Buss, Calvin Lai
ME: Can you explain a bit about the history of the annual portrait show?
BP: The first invitational was Notorious: Portraits of History’s Most Infamous which presented historical figures unrivaled in infamy. From William Burroughs to Sid Vicious, from Arthur Rimbaud to Marie Antoinette, the historical nature of the show lent a context to each subject and the paintings read like a textbook of bad deeds, misanthropic adventures, fearless acts, and the celebration of power.
Works from Fiction: Leilani Bustamante, Chrystal Chan, Soey Milk
The second exhibition presented Fiction, portraits of characters from literature. A fantastic imaginative response was displayed by the 29 artists involved. From Lewis Carroll’s Alice to Chuck Palahniuk’s Madison, from Dostoyevsky’s Rodion to Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, the novels might have been 200 years old or 2 years old, but the depictions were larger than life. The strength of Fiction was in the freedom (and the challenge) of the artists, to paint a character who had only been described in words.
I feel that Olympus is the perfect continuation of the two previous shows — a cultivated mix of history, myth and metaphor.
OLYMPUS - Works in Progress: Albert Ramos, Jaxon Northon, Hannah Yata, Adam Caldwell
ME: In general, what is your goal in curating art exhibitions?
BP: For group exhibitions, the goal is to put on the best show possible, by booking the best artists possible and tailoring the exhibitions to the right artists so as not to inhibit their creativity by a strict theme, but rather to use the theme as an umbrella to best present a specific group of artist’s unique ideas and talents.
ME: What artists most inspire you (alive or dead)?
BP: Every single artist in this show. All the artists that we show regularly at the gallery whose professional work ethic and raw talent inspire me daily.
Botticelli, Sargent, Hiram Powers, Bernini, Ingres, Bouguereau, Velázquez, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, and the cherubs of Boucheur. Dali (for saying that there has been no great painter since Raphael), Raphael, Monet, Turner, Whistler, Nerdrum, Raeburn, Titian, and Wyeth.
OLYMPUS: Contemporary Portraits of the Ancient Gods opens June 14th at Modern Eden Gallery.
More info about the exhibition can be found HERE.