Black triangle at sunset 1
This painting depicts the uncanny experience of seeing a mysterious light in the desert night sky. At the heart of the artist’s painting practice is an exploration of how the imaginal realm exists in harmony with the mundane world—an eternally mutual unfolding that is both infinitely awesome and fearsome. The artist conceives of his compositions as tableaus of another world, and he has an ongoing fascination with extra-terrestrials. For the artist, humans and all lifeforms are manifestations of the primal elements. The artist uses brightly colored oil paint, humor and a heavy dose of mystical sci-fi to tap into the power of the elemental and symbolic, connecting worlds and bridging dimensions—from outer space to our beloved planet Earth.
Irvin studied under Peter Saul and has been paired with artists like Jim Shaw. Irvin says a good session in the studio is when intuition and inspiration flow through him. The artist likes to collaborate with his materials for the purpose of manifesting the imaginal in the material realm. About his process, Irvin says: "I see my paintings as glimpses or illustrations of this world outside of time, images that are grounded in the physicality of oil paint, the earthiest paint. Astrological and shamanic images morph into mundane objects and back again. The artifact of this process is a portal into a fun world of unlimited possibilities. A world not bound by causality. The extraordinary morphs into the mundane and back again. The spiritual and corporeal flow together."
About this painting, Irvin says: “With these new [works,] I capture the meditative experience of painting by simplifying the composition and emphasizing the materiality of paint and brush strokes. I’m shifting from a narrative language used to describe a fever dream and more to a meditative language that describes a feeling of mindfulness, embodiment [and] receptivity—[a language for] being grounded, aware, receptive, open [and] present.”
Charles Irvin’s practice taps into the power of both elemental and symbolic imagery, and encompasses painting, drawing, performance, video and sculpture. The artist is an avid surfer, hiker, yogi and meditator, and he draws inspiration from experiences of being alone in nature—such as watching an ocean sunset or meditating deep in a forest. Irvin’s paintings employ brightly colored oil paint in compositions that combine humor with a heavy dose of mystical sci-fi.
Charles Irvin received a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994 and a MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois in 1997.
Exhibitions of Irvin’s work have taken place at: the Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg in Luxembourg City; the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California; and IFAC in Athens, Greece.
Irvin’s work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The artist’s videos are in the Video Data Bank at the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois.
Irvin lives and works in Los Angeles, California.