This month we present our second solo exhibition of recent paintings by Los Angeles-based Arturo Mallmann. Mallmann was born in Uruguay, and spent his formative years in Buenos Aires prior to coming to the U.S. He studied sociology at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, and spent a few years writing poetry and short stories before teaching himself to paint and draw.
The artist writes of his work and process:
Since I was a kid I always wanted to go to places where I could look very far away, be it the mountains, the ocean or the never-ending horizon of the Argentinean Pampas. I never knew what to say when people asked me what was I looking at. I guess that what I liked was precisely that there was nothing in particular to look at, it was a great feeling of liberation for my frequently turbulent soul. When I start a painting my first motivation is to develop a space that presents no barriers for the eyes. That is why depth is so important to me. For many years I’ve been developing a technique that more than creating an illusion of depth, it rather transforms the painting in a real three-dimensional space. This technique consists of innumerable layers of translucent acrylic colors applied between several coats of clear epoxy resin. One coat of the resin equals around fifty coats of varnish, so after a few coats of resin you can build up the surface of the painting up to an inch thick or more. The interaction of all these layers of colors between the coats of clear resin not only increases the depth, it also creates a much more vibrating final effect than the one you get when the colors are applied one on top of the other, without anything in between. When I finish a painting it is difficult sometimes to tell which is the dominant color. You can say it is green or red but if you look carefully you see that whatever color you are looking at it is not just that color, but the result of multiple interactions instead. I place the human beings that appear in my paintings very far away from the viewer, usually so close to the horizon that they frequently look on the verge of disappearing. I do that not only to further increase the depth but also because I want those human beings to be surrounded by a vast, naked and mysterious universe that presents no distractions, very different from the urban environment where most people spend their lives these days, an environment that is hopefully more conducive to approach our deepest selves.