Pushing the Limits - Page 3

Chris Trueman’s innovative paintings may be abstract but they still explore what’s real in the world we live in
Pushing the Limits
Trueman in his studio, applying the spray-and-peel method that often unveils ordered, straight-line, or curved grids with areas of seemingly splashed-on color, like his work above.

Trueman clearly enjoys making these paintings, often using squeegees to apply acrylic to an unusual material for painters—a relatively new trademarked plastic film called Yupo that repels rather than absorbs paint.

"Modernism is all about innovation, about pushing the material," Cella says. "Chris is innovative in that way, the way mid-century architects were innovative, with new materials."

"He's had to invent his own choreography, his own set of gestures, to apply the paint," Cella says, noting that in painting on Yupo, Trueman can both put paint on and wipe it away.

"In a way it is translucent," Cella says of Trueman's painted surfaces. "The works almost seem like they are constructed digitally, or like there is a light source emanating from it."

"I like to have a big bag of tricks or materials to use," Trueman says.

These include spray painting and silkscreening, and also 'interference' paint, which can create a different set of colors and shapes depending on the angle from which a painting is viewed.

With interference paint, he says, "A photo can only show one aspect of the painting."

Pushing the Limits

Andi Campognone, who has known Trueman for a decade and is curator of the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, says his work is all about today—especially today in Southern California.

"One thing that makes a really great painting is the artist's ability to tell their stories about the time they are living," she says. "He makes paintings that reflect his current landscape, not just the landscape of the place but the landscape of painting, the landscape of politics, the landscape of being a family man."

Trueman lives in Claremont, a lovely art-soaked town filled with colleges an hour east of Los Angeles, with his wife, a hospice social worker, and three young children. He teaches art at Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga.

Trueman often emphasizes to his students that art is about more than working in your studio. It pays to know other artists, dealers, and curators.

"You spend half your time in the studio and half your time in the art world," he tells students. "That's where you find shows and collectors. If you don't go to people's shows, who's going to come to your show?"

Much of his art mingling also takes place online, mostly through sharing images and comments on Instagram, which enables him to become part of an active art community that is worldwide. "You can quickly scan 30 or 40 things," Trueman says. "You can keep an eye on what people are doing."

It also helps that Los Angeles has become "an epicenter" for new artists, says Campognone. "It's a place artists are coming to from around the world—with new approaches to artmaking here—and they're looking at innovations. He is part of the creative spirit."

Trueman's art delves into the murky world where reality and virtual reality mix. Although his paintings may suggest abstract expressionism in part, Trueman avoids textural paint handling. From a bit of distance the images could be, well, computer generated.

"You're stewing on these ideas," he says. "How images are dispersed and communicated, how much life people see on their phones, where art is devoid of tangibility. Seeing an art show on Instagram—it's a whole different ballgame when you see it in person."