Howard Arkley's paintings depict the dreams stuff is made of. Warm, fuzzy, and of the moment, these airbrushed canvases give substance to the emotional connections city dwellers forge with their immediate environments.
The Australian painter's interiors at Karyn Lovegrove Gallery have been lifted from furniture magazines and interior decoration brochures. But in Arkley's slightly out-of-focus pictures, a chair is never just a chair. Nor is a lamp merely a light source, nor a set of drapes simply a means of attaining a little privacy.
Furniture, rugs and architectural elements do their daily duties to provide functional comforts while simultaneously giving shape to fantasies and defining individualized lifestyles. The 48-year-old artist's U.S. solo debut celebrates the democratic aspects of high design.
What's most refreshing about Arkley's images is that they refrain from playing snobbish games of interior-decorating one-upmanship. Never following the rules for their own sake, his keyed-up canvases are sprayed in a palette many viewers might think of as tasteless.
In one, a hot pink rug sits on a fiery red floor before a blazing orange credenza and a burgundy wall. In another, a lime-green wall and a lavender floor frame floor-length drapes on which is printed a black-and-white pattern of uncharacteristic crispness.
Equally kinky are Arkley's exteriors, with freeway overpasses rendered in delicate shades of pink, blue and dove gray, and Modernist apartment buildings done up in creamy, sorbet hues.
Two of the best paintings are close-ups of tract homes adorned with flowers and foliage. The meandering patterns that make up the contours of these stylized plants and trees play off the straight lines of the houses and sidewalks. Arkley softens their potentially harsh geometry by giving everything a gray outline. This causes his vibrant pictures to appear to hover in the air like impossible mirages, wondrous visions both unattainable and unforgettable. -- David Pagel, special to the Times