The idea of meditation and contemplation play a major role in the paintings of artist Craig Carlisle. Infused with serene happiness and optimism, his paintings articulate indelible images which evoke emotions reminiscent of childhood innocence. Some paintings of figures are cropped from the waist up and larger than life, while other paintings are small scale and intimate, yet all elicit an immediacy of reaction which is both mesmerizing and unexplainable.
“My work communicates something optimistic, almost healing, at least that is my creative intention. Each work has a different relationship with the viewer. Some viewers become overjoyed while others prefer to be left alone to create their own unique experience with the imagery. I like watching how people react to the colors, or to the painting’s content,” says Carlisle.
Carlisle creates a still-moment in his narrative art by juxtaposing recognizable elements while at the same time using minimal, sometimes flat color, for the background. A complexity is built around the emotional and psychological context of the work. The figures he paints are inanimate, sometimes single heads or double heads sprouting from the same set of shoulders. His figures are anonymous, and at times genderless, almost child-like. Carlisle produces paintings in a lush, saturated range of colors with a variety of characters. In fact, the continuity in his recent paintings have a developing cast of charmed creatures each with their own names. Some of his works feature the perspective of a solitary creature within a landscape, while other paintings may include multiple characters. When there is a pairing, we’re able to see personalities unfold and relationships bloom.
Though his cast of soulful innocent characters remain a unique brand, Carlisle’s work has been influenced by the art movement “Lowbrow” (exploration of boundaries between the high and low culture) while living in Los Angeles. Also by critics his work has been noted as “Fantastic” (exploration of imagination, fantasy and the uncanny).
Carlisle’s series of ‘Big Head’ paintings he created in the early to mid 90′s helped him become a deeply respected artist who is an original visionary. Though the Heads have seen many expressions and stylistic changes over the past two decades, they remain unique and highly sought after by art collectors.
Craig Carlisle (1964) was born in Oklahoma and moved to Ohio where he studied at the Columbus College of Art and Design (BFA 1988). He has lived and maintained studios in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Carlisle is represented exclusively by George Billis Gallery NYC/LA. The artist has exhibited throughout the United States, and is included in numerous private and public collections around the World.