Seeing art at 111 Minna is an experience in itself. The hybrid bar and gallery tends to creates a more inviting and relaxed opening environment. The show “Cornered” by Micah LeBrun was no exception.
In addition to being an accomplished painter LeBrun is also the Curator of 111 Minna, he painted the show in the last ten weeks after the scheduled artist dropped out. His familiarity with the space and the diligent nature of his effort has led to a comprehensive and compelling exhibition. This is his sixth one man show at 111 Minna, the first five coming before his tenure as curator began in 2010.
Ranging between large scale floral still lifes and small intimate abstractions there are also references to urban pop and street art. His intense use of color is balanced by his prowess as an illustrator. LeBrun exhibits precise confidence in a variety of media including acrylic, oil, spray can, etching on glass and oil bar. He uses the latter to fill the empty silhouettes of regal figures and create paintings infused with the stoic nature of chess pieces.
This show is a departure from the smaller more intricate paintings he is typically associated with. Often when an artist changes formats they sacrifice certain parts of their technique, LeBrun instead seizes the opportunity to loosen up and embrace a more automatic and gestural approach. His lists Picasso, Peter Max and Warhol among his influences all of whom are apparent in this show, however the influence seems to dwell at a level of instinct as opposed to active consideration.
I was struck by a large floral entitled Henry VIII, LeBrun remarked some of his earliest paintings were florals but he had moved away from them to look for more intense subjects. In this show we see flowers reappearing twenty years later. The bold primary colors fenced in black create a clarity that makes these pieces graphic while not sacrificing the delicate nature of the subject itself.
At 39, Lebrun has recently relocated his home and studio to Marin County with his young family, I get the impression he has come full circle not just in his subject matter but also in his approach to painting in general. If Cornered is an indication of LeBrun’s future endeavors, I am optimistically awaiting his next show.
“Cornered” runs through February 28th at 111 Minna in San Francisco.
For more information on the show: www.111minnagallery.com
THE TAKEAWAY: The takeaway is the piece of art I would add to my personal collection if given my pick of the show. The rules are: 1)You can’t sell it. 2)It must be displayed in a prominent place in your home.
Initially I was dead set on Henry VIII, There is a classic allure to it I couldn’t shake. But ultimately, my takeaway is a painting entitled In Case of Emergency. The large scale rotary phone symbolizes a level of simplicity that is increasingly difficult to come by in the modern world, while the loose brush strokes and limited palette create an impression of measured improvisation inherent to the experienced hand.
Travis Wilson is an independent curator and writer, he is also the owner of Gallery (WAS). Gallery (WAS) specializes in the estates of artists who made a historical contribution but have been overlooked by the art world at large. www.gallerywas.com