Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Los Angeles based painter Seth Armstrong: Lovin’ Thy Neighbor. Armstrong’s paintings feel cinematic and theatrical, delighting in the jarring minutiae of a surrealist’s penchant for unexpected details. Looking to the absurd moments in the every day, the artist creates works that capture the recognizable and the familiar, as punctuated by fantasy and surprise. At times delivered in the guise of pastiche, and at others with a deliberate dose of nostalgia, the work employs a stylized approach to narrative that cites the visual conventions of film, photography, and a gamut of pop-cultural references. With an entirely unique aptitude for appropriative recombinations, Armstrong is able to conjoin visual references and styles – everything from superheroes to film noir – in a seamless whole.
The artist’s paintings are beautifully refined, and demonstrate a sophisticated mastery of traditional painting technique. His skill at executing work in a hyperrealist style without sacrificing his painterly license, keeps the paintings expressive, idiosyncratic, and complex. With humor and irony, the work feels contemporary even when intentionally nostalgic, and the artist is able to keep his paintings dynamic, shifting, and multi-faceted as a result. At times Armstrong includes flat two dimensional patterns, or silhouettes, to offset the depth of his representational style, and to create interesting visual tensions and discordant relationships that heighten the work’s feeling of surrealism.
Intensely atmospheric, Armstrong’s work captures the perfect visual mood for each of his subjects. Often looking to the theatricality of cinematic lighting, and channeling everything from 70’s soft-focus porn to the incising visual drama of black and white movies, the staging of the paintings is always strategic. The works are undeniably narrative, and each vignette taps into a rich and imaginative legacy of film, pop-culture and every day observation – perfectly tempered with a dose of the beautifully strange.