Before the Moon Falls
“I must create a new regime
Or live by another man's
Before the moon falls
I must create a new scheme
And get out of others' hands
Before the moon falls”
Vielmetter Los Angeles presents “Before the Moon Falls”, an exhibition of new paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Raffi Kalenderian. Titled after The Fall’s 1979 post-punk song “Before the Moon Falls”, Kalenderian’s newest works hinge on the angst and bliss of creative output. Known for his visually dense and highly patterned portraits that fuse subjects with their environments and imbue them with a potent psychological charge, Kalenderian delights in the pleasure of looking closely and treating people and their environments with equal weight through sumptuous details, thickly laid paint, and vivid color.
His paintings in this exhibition move from day to night, depicting fellow Angeleno’s in various environments–the street, the kitchen, the studio–and capturing moments of daily life that may appear unremarkable but in Kalenderian’s world are at the very essence of being. The rich and masterful tapestry of colors, strokes, and patterns follow an arc from glowing morning light to richly layered night hues as the exhibition progresses. In Paul Verdell Reading in His Studio, Kalenderian depicts his peer contemplatively reading in repose, the composition delicately balanced by the objects in the studio. There is a sense of inertia, a moment of quietness in the artist’s studio, which is otherwise bustling with creative energy. Kalenderian adds a dynamism to the painting through a hot pink zigzag that cuts vertically through the composition, symbolic of a stroke of inspiration.
In Marguerite (Before the Moon Falls), Kalenderian depicts his friend standing in the street in front of a vintage car, the black car nearly blending into the street and the figure’s skirt offset by her boldly color-blocked blouse. The oil slicks on the street spill into a constellation mimicking the sky above it, also mirrored in the car’s windows. The moon is slightly visible, a nascent crescent appears as the sky transitions from day to night, and in the top left corner a ringed constellation of stars shimmers, a nod to Titian’s painting of Bacchus and Ariadne.
Exploring the complex act of one’s creativity as a response to the world and the solitary process of forging a path of one’s own, Kalenderian is inspired and propelled by the cathartic aspects of the creative process. These new works reflect his fully formed mastery of the painterly language he has developed over the years: a language that is true to himself and to the friends he paints.
Raffi Kalenderian graduated with a BFA from UCLA in 2004. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at University Art Museum, Long Beach; Kunstmuseum St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland; the Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA; Nassima Landau Foundation, Tel Aviv, Israel; Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Switzerland; Tif Sigfrids, Comer, Georgia; McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Buchmann Galerie, Berlin; Galerie Lefebvre & Fils, Paris; Lundgren Gallery, Palma de Mallorca, Space; Eleven Rivington, New York, NY; and Brand New Gallery, Milan. His work is in the collections the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is his fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.