The Everlasting "Waiting" Game: New Works by Brian Calvin @ Anton Kern, NYC
"Everyone’s been simultaneously feeling kind of stuck in lockdown, which was strange because it's hard to tell whether that stuck feeling helped people really reflect on these ongoing issues?," Brian Calvin told me in a recent conversation. "Reflect on America? It seems partially, yes."
As he and I spoke in advance of an upcoming feature for our print Quarterly, and we reflected on this perceived collective sense of uncertainty, how it manifested and its impact in guiding an America coming to terms with so many issues. At the time, Calvin didn't have a name for his latest body of work, now on view at his seventh solo show with Anton Kern Gallery in NYC. But Waiting seems perfect. Aren’t we all? And what are we waiting for? How does this fit in context with such a challenging year?
Calvin likes to keep it open-ended, and during our talk maintains that artists should not feel required to directly address current events, but to kindle an overall conversation with the moment. Waiting creates and captures the mood of familial isolation and forced togetherness. Works like Close Likeness, Composite Self or Waiting II all portray a cloistered atmosphere where personal boundaries are distinguished as they evaporate. Calvin has been touching on this mood in recent shows, and that he bookends 2020 with a solo show in China and now NYC is an ideal parallel coincidence. Current events occupy the work even as he refuses to beat you over the head with his personal yearbook. The way the paintings sort of meld into each other, or the characters themselves appear in multiple compositions reveal an artist in constant motion, constantly tinkering, perhaps waiting on the world or not even allowing himself to think about it all. As always, the results are stimulating and stunning. —Evan Pricco
All images © Brian Calvin // Images courtesy of the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York.