I dreamed I called you on the telephone
to say: Be kinder to yourself
but you were sick and would not answer
The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself
I have always wondered about the left-over
energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped
or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting long after midnight
— Adrienne Rich, For the Dead
For his third exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Raffi Kalenderian presents new paintings that reflect his experimental approach to materials and surface.
Dense oil and encaustic portraits of Kalenderian’s friends and family evoke the effects of time on memory and representation. The figures sometimes dissolve or disintegrate into their surroundings, occasionally into the material of the painting itself. Exhibited alongside these new portraits are several large scale works, including landscapes – not the pastoral environments of an idealized natural world; but a reckoning of their own, impacted by crisis and activated by abstraction. In a departure from traditional modes of representational painting, Kalenderian uses figures and landscapes to negotiate inner and outer states. In these paintings an inventive approach to paint handling, where brush marks dissolve images, and darkness is built up in layers, creates moments where the mechanism of painting is its own subject.
The residue of previous compositions is revealed as Kalenderian utilizes a palette knife to uncover drawings, under-paintings, and previous versions of his subjects and himself. This tension between erasure by excavation and the layering of material over previous images heightens the spectral mood of Kalenderian’s paintings. Each work contains the potential of a single moment rendered in many different forms; simultaneity as an infinity of potential outcomes.
Raffi Kalenderian graduated with a BFA from UCLA in 2004. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Switzerland; the Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; University Art Museum, Long Beach; Kunstmuseum St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland; Eleven Rivington, New York, NY; and at Co-Lab, Copenhagen, Denmark.