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Alison Van Pelt - Casterline Goodman Gallery

Alison Van Pelt was born and raised in Los Angeles. She studied art at UCLA, Art Center, Otis Parsons and the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. Raised in the open minded climate of 1970’s Los Angeles, she has been influenced by such disparate sources as Agnes Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Paramahansa Yogananda, Helmut Newton, Dan Millman, Yayoi Kusama and Hunter S. Thompson (just to name a few). The subjects of her paintings range from animals to prizefighters to celebrities, spiritual leaders, Native American warriors and heads of state. Utilizing found images of these figures, she begins the complex process of drawing and painting a classical portrait, then blurring and rebuilding the oil on the canvas, accumulating and disintegrating, until the result is a beautiful, purposely-degraded, mystical evocation of her subject. Her painstaking technique, with its exquisite light and shadow, layers upon layers of paint, ambiguous, yet meticulous, brush strokes, coalesced by her discipline and meditative touch, brings out the best in her subjects. The paintings are revealing yet mysterious; they are not idealized, but humanized.

“I call this show The Wild for many reasons. I painted things I love and the one thing that connects them all is that they reflect some aspect of being wild. From wild horses to wild abandon to wild hair! Being wild implies being uncontrolled, uninhibited, untamed; free from restraint and judgment.

Trees, birds, and horses are found in the wild The women I painted all feel wild to me. They’re naked and free. They’re dancing, stretching, or just standing naked and natural; free from restrictions, free from shame.

It feels like a wild risk every time I destroy a perfectly good painting. I let go of control and watch the paint spread apart, hopefully taking on a new and beautiful shape.

Blurring the paint clears away the outlines that hold an image together; it opens the painting up, making it timeless, expansive, infinite… Usually when I blur a painting it looks ruined at first. But if I keep going, as I wipe away superficial details the image changes from static to moving, from flat to dimensional. Some parts recede deeper into the canvas and other parts emerge. The image becomes less defined, more ambiguous, and open to interpretation and completion by the viewer. It’s as if something is released when I blur the painting, setting the image free.”

- Alison Van Pelt


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