"Living Picture", 2012, pencils and watercolor on paper 8.5" x 5.5" im, 14" x 11" fr.
Born: September 10, 1949, Rockford, IL
Education: M.A. (Fine Arts), 1979, California State University at San Francisco.
B.A. (Comparative Literature), 1974, California State University at Long Beach.
University of the Seven Seas, Spring 1967, Chapman College
Visual Arts Fellowship, 1985 National Endowment for the Arts
Laguna College of Art & Design
2007 Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Fragments, Los Angeles, California
2005 Koplin Del Rio Gallery, American Shots, Los Angeles, California
1999 Koplin Del Rio Gallery Cabinet Pictures, Los Angeles, California
1995 Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Works on Paper, Santa Monica, California
1993 Koplin Del Rio Gallery Accidents of Preservation, Santa Monica,
California (Review: June 25, 1993, Santa Monica Outlook)
1992 Southern Exposure at Project Artaud, (personal) Histories, San Francisco
Municipal Art Galleries, San Francisco, CA
1991 Space Gallery, Los Angeles, (LA Times review: July 4, 1991)
1989 Space Gallery, Los Angeles, (LA Times review: Oct. 27, 1989)
1988 Space Gallery, Los Angeles, (LA Times review: April 29, 1988; Artweek: May 12, 1988)
1983 Space Gallery, Los Angeles, (LA Times review: Dec. 16, 1983)
1982 Montalvo Center for the Arts, Saratoga, California, (Sept. 1982)
Publications featuring the artist’s work:
Hercules, Ever at the Crossroads: Moral Dilemmas in the Paintings of Wes Christensen,
by Gerald M. Ackerman, in SULFUR 30, Spring 1992, edited Clayton Eshleman.
Wes Christensen: Compressed Narratives, by Michael Laurence, Visions Magazine, Summer
1988, Vol.2, No.3, LA Artcore publication.
Three Modern Genre Painters from Los Angeles, F. Scott Hess, Jon Swihart, and Wes Christensen, by Gerald M. Ackerman, American Arts Quarterly, Spring, 1996, Vol. XIII, No. 2.
Savage Suburbia: Three Southern California Painters and the Myth of Domestic Tranquility,
Panik No. 5, 1998, Long Beach, California, by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert.
Visionary Realism, by Frederick Turner, American Arts Quarterly, Summer/Fall, 2000.
Ancient Mysteries, Modern Meanings, by Diane Kirkpatrick, in The Villa of the Mysteries in
Pompeii: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse, U. Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI,2000, (Elaine Gazda, ed.)
Visual Arts Fellowship, 1985 National Endowment for the Arts.
1984 Juror’s Award, (Judy Pfaff), Works on Paper Annual, San Marcos, Texas.
1981 Juror’s Award, (Henry Hopkins), Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin, Texas.
1980 Purchase Prize, (Henry Hopkins, curator), CA: Printmaking: A Survey.
2009 Insight/Inside LA, Mt. St.Mary’s, Jose Drudis-Bada Art Gallery, Jody Baral, curator.
2008 Contemporary Realist Painting and Drawing, MFA Graduates and their Mentors
(Laguna College of Art and Design, Koplin Del Rio Gallrey, (July).
2007 Marks,Scratches and Doodles, Palos Verdes Art Center, (Jan-March) curated by Scott Canty.
2007 Ag2S: Koplin Del Rio 25th Anniversary Show, Koplin Del Rio Gallery, July/September 2007.
2006 The S-Word: Spirituality in Contemporary Art, Judson Studios, Los Angeles, California.
2003 Portraiture: Reflection, Identity and Presence, Santa Ana College.
2002 The Perception of Appearance: A Decade of Contemporary American Figure Drawing,
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, (June 22 – Sept. 22) curator, Norman Lundin
2002 Drawings VI, A Group Exhibition Featuring over Forty Artists, Koplin Gallery.
2001 Still Life Expressions, Cal State University, LA, curator, La Monte Westmoreland.
2001 Storytelling in Space and Time, San Francisco State University Art Gallery, (Feb/March).
2000 Representing LA: Pictorial Currents in Recent Southern California Art, Frye Art Museum,
Seattle, Washington, (Dec. 9 – Feb. 11, 2001), traveling to Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, (April 12 – June 10, 2001), catalog essay by Gordon Fuglie.
2000 The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse, University of Michigan,
Museum of Art/The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Ann Arbor, MI, (September/November), catalog edited by Elaine Gazda
2000 The Great Novel Exhibition, Palo Alto Art Center, California. (Review: Artweek, September 2000).
2000 The New Classicists, Los Angeles City College Gallery, California
1999 Story Tellers, Art Institute of Southern California, Laguna Beach, (March/April).
1999 Courting the Muse: Contemporary Pictures, Historical Influences, Cal State Fullerton,
(April 10 – May 13, 1999, Review: Artweek, June)
1999 Taleteller, El Camino College Art Gallery, Torrance, California (Febuary).
1998 The Drawing Group, An Emerging “School of Los Angeles?”, Laband Art Gallery, Loyola
Marymount U., LA, CA, (Reviews: LA Weekly, 4/10/98; LA Times,
4/11/98, Artweek, May, 5/1998.
1998 Human Conditions: The Figure, Cerritos College Fine Arts Gallery, California.
1997 Reconfigured Painting, (October), Reconfigured Drawing, (November),
“Pick of the Week,” (LA Weekly, 10/1/97), Santa Monica College Art Gallery.
1997 Allegorical Re/Visions, Barnsdall Park, Los Angeles, California, (curated, and with a catalog essay by Ruth Weisberg and Noel Korten), “Pick of the Week,” LA Weekly, 1/17/98
1997 Body Language: Current Figurative Painters, Art Academy of Southern California, Laguna
Beach, California, (LA Times Review, 9/7/97; Orange County Register, 9/7/97)
1996 Watermarks, A National/International Exhibition, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, California.
1996 Re-Masters / New Images from Old Sources, Rancho Santiago College, Santa Ana, California
1996 L.A. Figures: A Survey, Lizardi/Harp Gallery, West Hollywood, California.
1995 Concept in Form: Artists’ Sketchbooks & Macquettes, Palo Alto Cultural Center, California
1995 Emulations: Quotations from the Source, Riverside Art Museum, (July/August).
1994 The Way of the Flesh, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, California
1993 Drawings III, Koplin Gallery, Santa Monica, California.
1990 Portraits of the Art Crowd, Transamerica Galleries, Los Angeles, California (catalog).
1989 portraits<artists by artists>portraits, Merging One Gallery, Santa Monica, California.
1989 Watercolor: Contemporary Currents, Riverside Art Museum, California (catalog).
1998 A New Reality, McFaddin Gallery, Nave Museum, Victoria, Texas.
1989 Ex Libris: Narrative Imagery in Post-Modern Los Angeles, JosÈ Drudis-Biada Art Gallery, Mount Saint Mary’s College, Los Angeles, California.
1988 Realism Now, Judy Youens Gallery, Houston, Texas.
1988 Images of Artists by Artists, Security Pacific Bank, Los Angeles, California, (catalog).
1987 West Coast Painters, University of Hawaii at Hilo
1984 A Broad Spectrum: Contemporary Los Angeles Painters and Sculptors, The Design Center of Los Angeles, California, (catalog)
1984 Hollywood: The Muse – Motion Picture Imagery in Art, Beckstrand Gallery, Palos Verdes Art
Center, California (catalog)
Publications by the Artist:
Call it a Day, catalog essay for LCAD alumnus, Konstinos Kyrtis, Nicosia and London 2007
Figurative Painting, Artweek, June, Vol. 27, No. 6, p.16
Poles Apart, Chapman, “Scotland’s Quality Literary Magazine”, 1994, No. 78/79, Edinburgh.
Reflections, Modern Painters, “A Quarterly Journal of the Fine Arts”, 1994,Vol. 7, No. 1, London.
Which Figure is in Costume? (with Ian Hamilton Finlay), 1992, Wild Hawthorne Press, Scotland.
Des Artistes Nous Parlent de ’93, (with Margaret Crane), RÈpublique? Digraphe, December 1992, No.62, Mercure de France
Heiligenanstalt, (with Frederike Mayrˆcker), 1992, A Morningstar Folio, Edinburgh, Scotland.
One Word Works, Impulse Magazine, 1990,Toronto, Canada.
The Maya Jade Skull Bead: 700 years as a Military Insigna?, (with Brian D. Dillon), in Archaeology Without Limits: Papers in Honor of Clement W Meighan, 2004, Labyrinthos Press
A Fashion for Ecstasy: Ancient Maya Body Modifications, Modern Primitives, RE/Search #12, 1998, San Francisco, California.
Archaeological Illustrations from Photographs, Archaeological Research Tools, 1985,Vol. 1, Institute of Archaeology, UCLA
A Maya Bone Carving from Sarteneja, Belize, (with Matthew Boxt), Journal of New World
Archaeology, 1985 Vol. 5, No. 4, UCLA
Moctezuma’s Dinner, Frank Magazine, Fall 1984, San Francisco, California.
The “issues” surrounding figure painting, and representational art in general, are created by people who don’t do it. My main concern is to communicate clearly to anyone who wants to look, and to invite viewers to interact with the imagery, to engage in a sort of imaginative conversation. The illusionist technique needed to create this fictive environment is important, but it must not be a distraction if I hope to succeed. In English tradition of the “conversation piece,” I try to make illustrations for stories not yet written.
The novelist Rachel Ingalls has a character say, “What he really wanted was a book that played him like a tune.” She must have had someone like me in mind, since my goal is similar: to paint the visual equivalent of the song you can’t get out of your head- pictures that walk out of the gallery with you when you leave. The best representational artwork relies on the viewer whose response completes them. This engagement is filled with the resonant loose ends that make paint poetic. The best of these images remaining the mind’s eye and reassert themselves of their own volition, which is the most lingering feature of fine figurative painting:
That silent afterimage that choreographs our dreams,
By attaching faces and bodies onto our thoughts,
Making them simple, concrete and timeless.
Wes Christensen, “Figurative Painting,” Artweek, June 1996