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Miles Regis
at JoAnne Artman Gallery, Laguna Beach, California
Preview by Liz Goldner

Miles Regis free form painting is rich with symbolic narrative and personal and philosophical references.

Miles Regis combines abstraction with figurative work; obscure references with in-your-face writings; symbolic narrative with Trinidadian splashes of color. The artist adds to this drip painting and collage work. His media includes oil, acrylic, charcoal, latex paint and occasional newspaper. He works on canvasses already colored, and on some painted with bold colors; his finished compositions take these as their start.

The thread running through this prolific painter’s work is strong, free-form brushstrokes, all manifestations of a confident spirit. Regis grew up in a large, artistic Trinidadian family with several famous artist relatives. He thus received encouragement, inspiration and mentoring in several art forms from childhood. While in the islands, Regis studied painting, singing and writing, worked as a singer in Trinidad, then pursued creative writing at USC.

All of these influences are apparent in his work. Primitive figurative forms, often leaning toward abstraction, reflect his classic training. Dancing figures are in several pieces, while written statements on paintings draw on his creative writing background. “Dancer Swirl” reflects several among Regis tendencies and influences. Two dancers are depicted with strong line work. Painted in blues, reds and white, they dance wildly and joyously, arms, legs and hair flying against an earthy brown background. The black and white figures drawn against a royal blue and lighter background in “Cynthia” and “Who He” are comparatively subdued. Each figure relaxes comfortably, staring out at the viewer with an expression seeming to say, “Take me as I am.” The kicker in “Who He” is the penis in the center of the canvas.

“Secret to Happiness” features two primitively drawn figures, primarily in black, embracing, as other figures look on. On this image appear the words, “To be happy, you have to fine someone to love, Find something to do, Find something to look forward to.”

“Pretend World” represents the artist’s desire and determination to squarely face reality. In this brightly colored work, a full figured woman faces forward boldly against her larger, black shadow. Written across the shadow in bright yellow letters we read, “I’m not gonna live in a pretend world where everything is OK.” Then on the white canvas in black letters, it says, “Let's fix it.”

The most abstract work in the show is “Rhythm in Chaos,” filled with riotous splashes of purples, oranges, reds, greens, yellows and blues, surrounding a barely discernible male figure. This dense, complex piece is packed with symbols and narrative, telling of joyous movement and confrontation. While the work is two dimensional, it conveys a three-dimensional appearance. Regis calls it “... the most Caribbeanesque of my works.”

“Front Page News,” a departure from Regis’ usual technique, is a Sunday newspaper front page on which is painted a defiant face surrounded by a large swath of red paint. With the only discernible writing here being the Los Angeles Times logo, the artist’s message is deliberately obscured. But within this obscurity is both strength and confrontation, an ongoing theme. Regis’ works exert a powerful force and a memorable presence.

Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2011

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