Calvin Ross Carl makes paintings that look like thick ropes of paint methodically built into graphically flat images of words or simple icons. I love Calvin's work for the way it uses the messy vernacular of painting to construct images with the color and composition sensibilities of a designer. In fact, he operates a design firm alongside his painting practice.
I first came across Calvin Ross Carl's work in Seattle at the amazing and now defunct annual exhibit Out of Sight. I was immediately taken with Big Town Small Dreamer (Give Up). The joyous and energetic spring greens and cheery yellow are a sharp contrast to the proclamation the colors spell out: 'give up.' This snark pervades much of the work as he taps into 21st century disaffection and nihilism.
Some of his more recent work collapses the spacing between letters and imposes a grid structure, highlighting the graphic-ness of the letters while making the words much more difficult to parse. These paintings exist at the intersection of legibility and illegibility and the effect is to reward those who look closely and repel those who don't. At a time when close looking is in short demand, these paintings are critical and timely.