|Foulkes 'Last Frontier' construction recalls Sepulveda Pass|
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How L.A. Neighborhoods Influence Llyn Foulkes' Retrospective at the Hammer Museum
Artist Llyn Foulkes has lived in LA since coming to Chouinard Art Institute in the late 1950s, and since then the neighborhoods he has lived in and loved has become a part of his art. A new retrospective at the Hammer Museum shows the influence that the topography and landscapes of LA's unique locations has had on Foulkes art through the years.
Excerpt: "The major retrospective of Foulkes' work now on view at the Hammer Museum is a long time coming. (His last such exhibition was nearly 20 years ago at Orange County's Laguna Art Museum.) That it was organized in Los Angeles reflects the importance of the artist to his hometown and vice versa. Foulkes' particular experiences in the city as a place to live, breathe and make art are part of what give his work its visceral punch and its convincing edge. Seeing his paintings and constructions, you may well glimpse Los Angeles in an altered light.
Foulkes came to L.A. in the late 1950s, first by way of a rural, mountainous town in Washington state, where he was born and raised; and then via the war-ravaged cities of Europe through which he traveled in his two years in the Army.
Thanks to the G.I. Bill, Foulkes landed at Chouinard Art Institute — L.A.'s premier art school, which was located downtown before it merged into CalArts in 1970 — and he excelled in painting and drawing courses, winning several awards.
He married young and lived in Eagle Rock, which like today offered more affordable and spacious living spaces, and a chance for Foulkes to explore the neighborhood's craggy areas. He also would travel up to Chatsworth, in the northwest Valley, spending time among its peculiar natural rock formations.
It wasn't long before both locales showed up in his paintings. Works such as Geography Lesson (1960-61) and Geographical Survey of Eagle Rock (1962) reflect some of Foulkes' earliest forays into representational imagery — his student work had leaned toward abstract expressionism — and they demonstrate the artist's method of applying paint to canvas with soaked rags. The result of this technique, entirely Foulkes' own, is a texture that exists somewhere between crumpled paper, jeans, animal hides and the mottled surfaces of rocky peaks. It transforms a simple mountainside into a lush, evocative, even sinister apparition."