World renown painter Tobias Keene reemerges onto the art scene with his first solo exhibit in six years. The message is “beauty, sadness, [and the] inevitability of death and innocence lost.” As I converse with Tobias Keene, just before the opening of his new exhibit Black is the Beauty of the Brightest Day, the Los Angeles based painter speaks of the story within his new show, currently on display at Los Angelesʼ LeBasse Projects.
Keeneʼs exhibit began with a opening reception on April 14th, ending his six year hiatus from the art world, as Keene and LaBasse set out to form a bond comparable to the strength of Keeneʼs former relationship with the Earl McGrath gallery. Known for his incorporation of many elements and mediums, Keene draws inspiration from Christopher Marloweʼs poem, “Lament for Zenocrates,” utilizing the poemʼs first line as his exhibitʼs title. In Black is the Beauty of the Brightest Day, Keene uses “…all different mediums: metal leaf, roofing tar, powdered silver [and] shellac.”
Born to a family of distinguished painters in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the captivating painter left for Los Angeles in 1988. Looking for a grand change in life, Keene was pleasantly enticed by the cityʼs cheap and oversized studio spaces. Two decades later, as Keene continues to comfortably call Los Angeles home, he is reaping the benefits of having stuck around long enough to see the metropolis evolve and finally hit “its stride in the art world.” While the art industry progresses in his dwelling city, Keene continues to “paint compulsively…a blessing…and a curse…,” nonetheless furthering the expansion of his own art and mind.
Keeneʼs skill has caught the attention of countless curious souls, turned supporters and clients, having shown his works in American galleries from Los Angeles to New York. Keeneʼs art hangs in the permanent collection at Wisconsinʼs Trout Museum of Art, adding a third generation to the Keene family paintings in the museumʼs permanent collection. Many of Keeneʼs work is also apart of international exhibitions in Canada, London, Brazil and elsewhere.
Always inspired by the excitement of painting his next piece, Keene never takes the thrill of a new exhibit for granted. As stated on his website, Keene notes “my work is the subconscious portrayal of childhood memories that are running into an unknown ambiguous future.” Undoubtedly, these memories serve as an endless source of inspiration, sure to keep Keene under the art worldʼs radar, and keep his audience anticipating every new work.
Check out Keeneʼs new exhibit “Black is the Beauty of the Brightest Day” at LeBasse Projects – 6023 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 – ongoing until May 12th, 2012