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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Form as Memories-Memories as Form


KARLA KLARIN

SUBDIVIDING THE LANDSCAPE

Cal State University Northridge Art Galleries
August 29- October 8, 2016

18111 Nordhoff St. 
Northridge, CA 91330-8299
www.csun.edu/artgalleries

curated by: Damon Willick



Landscape Study/NH #37, 38, 2014  12"x 36", oil on canvas


Karla Klarin in front of "A Loft on Mill", 1980, 48"x 72.5", acrylic on 3D


Los Angeles is the city for warriors.  You have to have guts to live here and equally to be an artist here.  Karla an "intelligent valley girl" (not an oxymoron), born in Van Nuys in 1953 did not have a choice.  Los Angeles has always been her home.  Karla's current survey beginning in 1980 is an authentic LA Story.  Karla's intimate-poetic depiction of her life in Los Angeles as a "Baby-Boomer-Feminist-Power-Mama", is a visual autobiography and a benchmark for artists to "live and learn".  Karla's innate tenacity, she believes artists are born, is the seed that has continued to multiply and diversify in her creative atmosphere.  Her exhibition of works for the past 36 years tells the story of her life to this point.

Karla shares her creative epiphany through the story of "Natalie's House" and Natalie herself, a neighbor, ballerina, Modernist, and everlasting-muse.  The combination of pink, black and white are one of Karla's favorite color combinations thanks to Natalie's design aesthetic.  In post-war neighborhoods of tract homes and uniformity, Natalie's pink house, with white rock roof, black driveway and black and white rock garden,  became a location of visual, emotional and physical magic.  A magic that continues to influence Karla's work.  

There are several paintings dedicated and inspired by Natalie's House", the emotional washes bounce off the geometric geology of black and white forms.  In the 1950's and 1960's everything seemed to have more mass and weight.  Homes were constructed with stronger materials-the Zenith TV set weighed a ton.  Karla's geometric forms appear to have the weight of actual rocks and black tar of the asphalt driveways.Like Karla's daily childhood bike rides through her neighborhood, the ebb and flow of gray values highlight the timeless architectural, and topographical forms. 

A notable favorite of the exhibition is a painting from 1980 entitled " A Loft on Mill". Karla spent over ten years in downtown Los Angeles with her artwork becoming part of her creative evolution. She stated that she started working on constructions while at  San Francisco Art Institute (1974) under her instructor and mentor, Sam Tchakalian and during graduate school at Otis Art Institute (l978) with Emerson Woelffer.  The architectural forms like her drawings give the impression of weight and mass. The gilded, mono-chromatic structure jets out of the canvas as an object to be observed and rectified.  Karla's interpretation of downtown Los Angeles structure also touches on her thoughts of what a "Place" can be.   She states that her living location also becomes part of her "physical and emotional state of being".  

Karla currently resides in Santa Monica with her husband and family.  Several of the paintings  are influenced by Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park Series and the Bay Area painters like Elmer Bischoff , David Park and Joan Brown.   She considers these artist to be pure California artists that capture "my California". Her palettes range from primary colors and delineated horizon lines to her favorite black, pink, and white palette.  Also included are portraits of her children and her spouse David.  The portraits are minimal in imagery but still have the strong deliberate marks associated with "Natalie's House" and Natalie's aesthetic. Bravo to the "Gal from the Val".



Babylon's Children #2, 1981, 48"x 96", acrylic on 3D



Drive Thru, 1996, 84" x 96", oil on 3D


Dave and Leigh, 1994, 56"x 60", oil on canvas (left)
Leigh and her Mom, 1994, 54"x 66", oil on canvas