David Korty is a bit of a recluse. He produces a high volume of painted scenes from an open-air outdoor studio in the verdant backyard of his house in Highland Park, which was once owned by a heavyweight champion and his mistress in the 1920s. According to Korty, he never likes to leave his home except “to buy cat food and cigarettes”. Despite his self-diagnosed agoraphobia, Korty enjoys hiking, camping and fishing in the Los Angeles area. Through these experiences he adopts the role of the archetypal observationist painter, depicting scenes that would interest Georges Seurat had he lived a century later.
In his newest exhibition, Korty presents a series of observations, each taken from a photograph that he has shot himself, then built upon to create several permutations of a single scene. His medium appears straightforward, typically comprising of oil layered over acrylic on canvas, however, one can glimpse a second layer in some parts of his paintings, evincing Korty’s inclination towards collage. As a way of strengthening the ties to the world from which he draws his subject matter, Korty embeds rubbings of leaves and other earthly textures into his paintings. These notes imply a desire of fidelity to his surroundings, though the paintings themselves are stylized. He delivers an amalgamation of shapes which vary in allegiance to their subjects; some likenesses seem true to real form while others invent their own standards of representation.
Korty’s discernible interest in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints can be seen in his use of flat, unmodulated color and his general interest in framing everyday life. The word Ukiyo is literally translated to mean “floating world”, evoking images of an impermanent existence, divorced from the responsibilities of everyday life. Korty’s paintings either take these ideals and ground them, or take the ordinary and elevate it to a point of “floating” transience. In either case we are left with meditations derived from the outside looking in.
*Korty’s work is currently on display at China Art Objects Galleries from April 2 through May 7, 2011