Young American artist Raffi Kalenderian lives and works in Los Angeles. He has a preference for portraying people in his immediate environment. In his portraits the boundaries between figure and background are blurred in such a way that the figure blends into the structures of its environment. Kalenderian’s painting style is reminiscent of painters such as Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, the Futurists or the early Mondrian, though his oeuvre is surprisingly contemporary at the same time. In his paintings we find people and ordinary things from today which are portraied with a simple poetic. Through his very individual use of paint and the way he applies it onto canvas and paper, Raffi Kalenderian breathes new life into the objects and subjects of his pictures, while their presence and characteres cannot be immediately decoded.
In the case of his solo portrait Erics (2011) there is not as may be expected one pair of eyes looking at us, but there are two. In this drawing Kalenderian captures the image of a friend, who appears twice at the same time, as if his alter ego had crept into the picture: at once awake and stretching himself, at once nearly asleep and withdrawn. Through this double appearance the drawing not only gains a psychological component but also emits an animating dynamic. Kalenderian uses this procedure in other drawings and paintings as well. He captures the sitter in different poses and makes their movements apparent so that they still seem to be moving in the painting. Kalenderian further creates the illusion of movement by skillfully structuring his paintings through geometric planes, which seem to point into the foreground as well as into the background, and colorful organic patterns, which take over and spill into the foreground. In his painting Up (RP) (2009) a pattern of leaves and branches cover the entire background while the geometric planes in front seem to unravel towards all sides. Kalenderian captures dynamic in his paintings and at the same time states that the act of painting helps him to slow things down and focus on the interpersonal relationships. „The social aspect is incredibly meaningful to me. Technology can be isolating, so sitting with a friend for a few hours and observing them, talking, is a great way to slow things down. The drawing becomes, among other things, a record of this time together, a record of existence.“
Raffi Kalenderian was born in 1981 in Los Angeles, US. He studied Painting at the University of California in Los Angeles and graduated with a Bachelor of fine Arts in 2004. In the same year, he was appointed a residency at the Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California. In 2007, another residency followed at St. Barthélemy in the French West Indies. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, 2010/2012/2015
Medium, St. Barthélemy, French West Iindies, 2006
Selected Group Exhibitions
Saatchi Gallery, London, UK, 2016
Bolte/Lang, Zurich, CH, 2015
356 Mission, Los Angeles, US, 2014
University Art Museum, Long Beach, US, 2011
Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, CH, 2010
LA Art House, Los Angeles, US, 2010
Hangar 7, Salzburg, AT, 2008
Saatchi Collection, UK
Chadha Art Collection, Voorschoten, NL
Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, IT
Private collections in France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.