Milt Kobayashi: The Point Is, It's Red
For his 2020 solo exhibition, New York painter Milt Kobayashi presents a body of work that reflects the artist’s evolution as a modern figurative painter who continues to stray from realism. Rather than approach color, shape, and line as tools to create a realistic scene or figure, Kobayashi uses these painting principles as design elements to build more aesthetically modern works while maintaining the familiarity of his style. The resulting paintings are still rooted in realism but reveal bolder expressions; abstracted form, textured brushwork, vivid color and pleasing patterns give them an exciting edge. “You’re seeing me lean towards being more relevant and more modern, but without letting go of my craft,” says the artist.
Releasing his own preconceived rules of realism - which called for general “believability” through logical perspectives or correct figurative proportions – has given Kobayashi a sense of freedom in the studio and naturally led him towards more creative exploration. “There’s been a gradual shift in how I approach my art,” he says of his recent studio practice. “My realist paintings are not quite as realistic as they used to be; the placement of things doesn’t have to be as important as it used to be. I can play around with it, and all the sudden everything is morphing for the purpose of design.”
This shift in Kobayashi’s process has motivated him to paint in larger, which once felt intimating due to his more meticulous approach. Also in this new body of work is a consistent color palette that feels bolder than ever as it’s largely focused around the color red. According to the artist, this vital pigment is one that he’s shied away from in the past, favoring warm colors that are a bit softer such as orange and yellow. Kobayashi’s use of red in this show is another expressive element that symbolizes his invigorated process and emboldened attitude in the studio. “The Point Is, It’s Red,” opens on Friday, July 24th at the gallery.