LOYAL is proud to present Ross Caliendo’s solo exhibition Horizon Pupil in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Europe and comes as a follow-up to his solo presentation at Independent Art Fair with Ross+Kramer in New York and the group exhibition The Descendants at K11 Musea in Hong Kong. At LOYAL, Caliendo presents a large scale presentation of 10 paintings over the two floors of the gallery including a sky triptych 13 ft wide.
Within Ross Caliendo’s practice, a complete ecological remixing is ignited by the symbiosis of a distinct energetic charge and the tranquility of landscape painting. For his exhibition at LOYAL, titled Horizon Pupil, Caliendo builds upon this framework in a new suite of intensely saturated environments. He continues the pursuit of an exalted composition, one that is built from an aggregation of gestures and decisions. The work done in studio generates a cosmos of affect and, under the artist’s direction, marries painterly mechanics with an appreciation for lived experience.
Caliendo’s images extend from sky to sea, however, they tend toward a middle ground: that of the vegetated landscape. Over the last decade, his practice has undergone a transition from abstraction to naturalistic figuration, though certain conceits from the former have endured. Caliendo’s move away from his earlier style marks the painter’s desire to offer narrative possibilities to the viewer. Despite a more figurative approach, he elides realism in favor of vivid, hypnagogic renderings of the natural world.
Los Angeles, where Caliendo has lived for over a decade, offers itself as a muse for the artist’s production. While the compositions are not culled from specific sites, he leverages the energies of his surroundings in order to compose his landscapes. A naturalistic undercurrent grounds the production in a particular framework, as flora, fauna, and foliage populate the majority of his imaginal fields. He asserts that there is a meandering path he must walk in order to reach a clarified final picture. The strength of his paintings lies in the vibratory pulse, or per Caliendo himself, the “soul of the piece” that he pursues and achieves within each image.
Fittingly, Caliendo’s intuitive approach still implicates abstract whims in order to achieve identifiable content. Rather than leading on a realistic approach, Caliendo moves through his compositions with a curiosity that allows for the blossoming of unforeseen developments. Certain passages broach pointillist territory, as daubs of paint suggest particular forms. Paul Signac’s transition from Impressionist brushstrokes to accumulated color spots at the end of the nineteenth century, alongside his friend-mentor Georges Seurat, initiated the stylistic framework of Pointillism. A shared Neo-Impressionist attitude establishes an allyship between Signac and Caliendo, validated through their analogous employments of vibrant chroma, thick paint application, and particular brushstrokes. Signac’s Sailing boats and pine trees (c.1896) shares affinities with Caliendo’s Sapphire Place, each of which provide fissured glances at the water’s edge, glowing in soft or neon yellows. Both images are tree-lined and notable for the speckled formalism that they share. Signac, however, reveals more than his contemporary counterpart, as Caliendo’s forest quickly dissolves into a pixelated abyss.
Just as Caliendo’s compositions bolster the echoes of Divisionism, the artist consistently renders his distorted forms in remarkable and contrasting palettes. His interest in color theory finds its grounding in the model developed by Albert Henry Munsell, which is organized around hue, chroma, and value. This three-dimensional color wheel sets up a precise mode of plotting and matching that demystifies color selection and mixing. The application of this codified schema is standard fare for Caliendo, who tends toward limited, yet bold interactions of color.
At Night’s spectral buck is set within a nocturnal forest, which is primarily rendered in purples and oranges. A milieu of violet and indigo trees surround the creature, while his legs disappear into stippled underbrush. Here too, a specific chiseling pattern produces lattices that communicate the textures of underbrush and leaf patterns, which is a technical mainstay within Caliendo’s oeuvre. The final compositions protrude from monochromatic underpaintings as masses of color generate relief-like expanses. Caliendo’s impastoed canvases, after some sculptural intervention, facilitate the paintings’ exaggerated dimensionality.
While his compositions rarely feature human forms, Student sees a lone protagonist seated at the water’s edge, surrounded by a field of grass and surveying an inscrutable sky. The sensitive palette and specific brushwork are reminiscent of Camille Pissarro’s Prairie avec vaches, brume, soleil couchant à Éragny (1891), which was completed at a point when the artist was fraternizing with Neo-Impressionism. In this composition, a yellow field is cloaked in a mist that partially obscures its population of fauna. Cows graze under the setting sun in this vision of pastoral France. This image presents itself as compatible with Emerald Place, which boasts a similarly idyllic persuasion. While Caliendo’s painting has a low chromatic count, the interplay of greens and yellows is striking nonetheless. These bold colors culminate in a tranquil vista decorated with the foregrounded path that cuts through a sloping hillside. Much like Pissarro’s relationship to the ruralism of Éragny, Caliendo ultimately aims to express the poetics of the natural world as he experiences it.
Caliendo’s lyrical approach to his subject matter is well represented in Horizon Pupil, which continues his ongoing investigation into the energetic exchanges implicit in the formulation of an artwork. The gallery space is transformed by his pulsating images, their surfaces dripping with enthusiasm that is borne from an array of vibrant pigments and formal experimentation.
—Reilly Davidson, New York, NY, September 2023
Ross Caliendo (born 1988, Pittsburgh, PA) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Caliendo makes his hand clear in his compositions, slicing textural lines through the dense layers of paint; the compositions are often virtual amalgamations of actual places, while honoring the non-human world in their intuitive construction. The artist underscores the transformative potential and incredible grace of the natural world foundational to the spaces within which we build our lives.
Caliendo graduated with a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), Ohio in 2011. Solo and two person exhibitions include CVG Foundation (Beijing), Ross+Kramer (East Hampton and New York), Grifter (New York), No Place Gallery (Columbus), Phil Gallery (Los Angeles) and Mayeur Projects (Las Vegas). Group exhibitions include SPURS (Beijing), LOYAL @ El Royale (Los Angeles), Moskowitz Bayse (Los Angeles), Night Gallery (Los Angeles), The Pit (Glendale), Tyler Park Presents (Los Angeles), Five Car Garage (Santa Monica), among others. The artist presented a solo presentation with Ross+Kramer at Independent Art Fair (New York) May 2023.
In 2022 the artist had his first institutional solo exhibition in Asia, entitled Realm, at CVG Foundation in Beijing, China. Ross Caliendo participated in the Fores Project Residency Program, which culminated in a group exhibition in London, UK in 2022. He is currently part of the group exhibition The Descendants curated by Melanie Lum, Micki Meng, and Kevin Poon at K11 Musea (Hong Kong). Caliendo has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Asia Art Center (Taipei) in 2024. Caliendo is represented by Ross+Kramer, New York.
Horizon Pupil at LOYAL (Stockholm) is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Europe.