After taking the stairs down to the sub-street level in the Adam Hats Lofts building in Deep Ellum,
I’m led between a few lingering puddles and a phalanx of beefy motorcycles to the home and studio of British-born, Dallas-based artist Steven Charles.
Upon entry, three large paintings lining the longest wall on the right command my attention, making it damn near impossible to pull my eyes away.
A four-panel, eight-by-eight-foot painting on canvas layers grids and patterns that burst forth against the constraints of its square footage.
Hybrids of high-school doodling and fibrous structures are outlined, mashed up, and layered beyond belief.
An infectious tenacity insists on readdressing every square inch of the work,
DEEP IN SOME and the viewer is left with a constantly wandering eye and little resolve, nor space, for the eye to rest.
The central work on this wall is a diptych featuring the basic shapes and outlines of a man on horseback on the left and a wizard on the right; a crude crescent moon and a rainbow zip also appear.
In regard to these areas, Charles offers that he “outlines some areas on the canvas in order not to touch it.”
The entire work is set off by an electric fringe of color, which both frames and pulsates at the outer edges.
Lastly, at left, a patchwork quilt on an aged, hefty, wooden support stays loose while utilizing a variety of surfaces and forms that all but render the figure-ground relationship null and void.
The affable Mr. Charles quickly outlines percentages of completion of each work comprising the trio
(and a much smaller canvas crammed between the second and third): “Fifty percent, ninety percent, sixty percent, fifty percent,” he states without pause.
Within each work are a smattering of methods and media deftly employed by the painter, who collages these techniques in slow motion over many months.
Yarn drawing, glass-bead gel, confectioner’s tools, fabric swatches, and painted areas comprised of lines, dots,
DEEP IN SOME and blobs all congregate for an all-out assault via an acrid, artificial palette.
From the outset, process is at the center of this particular madness.
“I like to be confused, then try to make sense of it,” Charles explains. “Make a mess of it, then solve the problem in front of the viewer.”
Upon closer inspection of each work, a grid of inset dot forms, amoebas, plus signs,
and linear rivulets lie upon the surface, simultaneously luring in and repelling the viewer.
Upon my notice of these details, Charles reveals that he is legally blind and typically
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