Innocence has nothing to do with naiveté, even though cynics often treat the two qualities as if they were the same.
To understand the difference between the two ways of being in the world, head over to Cole Case’s exhibition at E.C. Lina in West Adams, where his ninth solo show in Los Angeles includes eight oils on linen and a pair of pastels on paper.
The title, “Like a Tuning Fork Struck Upon a Star,” suggests that Case is a romantic, as well as a fan of “The Great Gatsby,” in which F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the phrase to describe the moment before Gatsby and Daisy kiss.
Case’s paintings strike a similar chord — of charged stillness, when everything around you feels as if it’s exactly where it’s meant to be, poised and perfect and on the cusp of giving way to an experience even more breathtaking.
There’s nothing naive about that. It’s a pretty sophisticated sensation. It’s accompanied by heightened perception. And heart rate. Not to mention excitement and vulnerability.
That’s what you feel when see Case’s paintings. Although his carefully delineated pictures appear to be calm, cool and collected, each is aglow with the warmth and sensuality usually associated with lovers and loved ones.
The four works that depict 14th and 15 century convents and chapels and palaces in Florence and Padua, Italy, treat each brick of each building as if it were the center of the universe, both light source and still point around which everything revolves.
The two paintings that depict the sky over LAX — and the no-man’s-land beneath — seem to channel the impossible beauty of Henri Rousseau’s pictures of wild beasts hanging out as if they were best friends. In Case’s hands, aerial traffic jams neither frustrate nor prevent you from catching a flight so much as they make the moment expand into a long-lasting pleasure to get lost in — its serenity both endless and stimulating.
Case’s paintings and drawings of the moon are also wondrous, their gray and black palettes creating enough time and space for something unexpected to happen — again and again. Sometimes, innocence and wisdom go hand-in-hand.
E.C. LINA, 4480 W. Adams Blvd., L.A. Through Feb. 16; closed Sundays and Mondays. (323) 998-0464, www.eclinagallery.com
BORDERCROSSINGS / DECEMBER 2018 / PHYLLIS GREEN
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Since as early as I can remember, I’ve always drawn, colored, and painted. As a kid growing up in the inner city, I would draw and paint imaginary worlds and lose myself in my imagination. As a teen, I attended a graphic art high school and used my creativity in graffiti and silk screen printing. Then as a young adult, I moved to Paris, France and attend an atelier and painted on the streets of the Montmartre arts district.
After moving back to the states, I wanted some stability so I finished college and started working as a software engineer. After working for over 10 years in engineering, I had a near death experience on a drive home from work. At that point, I decided that life was too short, and I decided to pursue my artwork full time, instead of the weekend hobby it had become.
Please tell us about your art.
My art is my lexicon. It’s the world as I see it using paint or other mediums to articulate it. I create paintings and sculptures that get beyond the distractions to capture a subject’s essence. Some of my subjects are quite beautiful, others less so. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at the world around them.
I paint figurative and abstract together in a seamless way. My art is often described as moving or emotional, deep and thoughtful, inspirational and even important.
I work very quickly and intuitively reacting to each stroke as if the canvas is speaking to me directly. I paint layer after layer sometimes exposing what is underneath in order to create portals of light and mystery. I paint mostly with my brushes although I have an arsenal of tools at my disposal. As a black male, there has always been this stigma of us being primal or gorillas so, in each of my paintings, I use some amount of gorilla glue. It’s my way of taking the negative gorilla connotation and making something beautiful out of it in each work.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
The biggest challenge for an artist today is being true to yourself while surviving in a commercial market. Finding financial security in your career without sacrificing your true voice.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can see my work at E.C. Lina Gallery here in LA. I’m also regularly in group shows around LA and other cities. I have group shows coming up at the Torrance Art Museum (Jan 19- March 9), Monte Vista Project and the MOCA Marin (in the bay area) to name a few. I usually keep my Instagram and website updated so follow me to see and support my work.