Pushing the Limits - Page 4

Chris Trueman’s innovative paintings may be abstract but they still explore what’s real in the world we live in
Pushing the Limits
Pushing the Limits

He played with this idea two years ago in a sort of 'is it live or is it Memorex' two-continent-paired exhibit—one in Brisbane, Australia, the other in Los Angeles. (Remember the ad campaign from the early 1970s? Were you hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing—or a recording of Ella on Memorex tape?)

One of the exhibits featured paintings done by the artist's hand. The other showed the identical paintings as digital reproductions. "They were as close as possible to the originals," Trueman says. Wall panels made clear which were original paintings and which were reproductions.

"I was thinking so much about how people look at the world through their devices and social media," he says. "I wanted to see if it would cause a pause in the way people perceive the work."

Was there a difference between original and copy? Yes. "The sheen on the [digital] surface was too uniform," he says.

The artist and gallery priced the digital versions 30 percent less than the 'originals.' But why was that, Trueman asks. "Is it just the romantic attachment that we have to the painting, that the artist touched it? What is the intrinsic value of an original? Does it matter if it is an original?"

"Even by pricing them, we were influencing their value," he says.

"I had to think, how do I price these? Because as sort of a performative piece, they were almost original, in that sense."

"I think painting is largely a perceptual practice at this point," Trueman adds.

Trueman, who was born in 1978, grew up in Chico and gravitated towards San Francisco as the closest major art center. He studied first at the Art Institute there, then at the Claremont Graduate School, where he got his MFA in 2010.

Things have been going right for Trueman. Not only does he show in galleries in Northern and Southern California, Australia, Tulsa, and Houston, he's gotten some large commissions, including at the office tower Ten50 Grand in Los Angeles.

His biggest commission is new—at the new 181 Fremont Street tower in San Francisco. One of the building's tenants is Instagram. Trueman's mural will be alongside the elevated Salesforce Park, an oasis of greenery atop the City's Transbay Transit Center.

"I'm supporting a family from my art shows," he says.

Trueman is producing art for a 2019 show at Edward Cella Art & Architecture. He'll travel to Australia for a solo showing there. He's also hoping to get a solo exhibit in New York, to show more in Europe, and to be featured in museums.

He's optimistic, saying, "I'm on a sturdy trajectory."


• For more of Chris Trueman's work, visit ChrisTrueman.com

Photography: Adriene Biondo, Laure Joliet; and courtesy DES Architects + Engineers