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Studio Visit: Lawrence Tarpey

The world of Lexington artist Lawrence Tarpey’s paintings is at once dark and macabre, funny and playful. In a typical scene, crowds of strange figures, humanoid or animalistic or both, congregate and chatter; if you were standing among them, you feel, there would be a cacophony of crosstalk, jibberjabber and bleak jokes. They occupy murky landscapes that might serve very well as expressionist stage sets – for the witches in Macbeth, say, or the forlorn clowns of Waiting for Godot – under crepuscular, sepia-toned skies. Some of the creatures seem to grow up out of the ground, bulbous and solid as boulders, while others float overhead, translucent and ethereal like angels or ghosts. They seem to bicker a fair amount, but are more like large extended families than warring clans. Theirs is a shared DNA, monstrous, certainly, but no more monstrous than you or I, and sometimes a good deal less.

In “Lawrence Tarpey: Subconscious States,” the artist’s new solo exhibit at Institute 193 showing works from the past two years, these odd beings are the dramatis personae in various dramas that are constantly afoot. The show, which continues through March 6, includes “Back Seat Driver,” in which a hulking fellow with the paws of a wolf seems to be preventing the passage of a wheeled carriage chauffeured by some near-relative of Daffy Duck. In “A Much Better View,” a host of creatures on land and in the air appears to be eavesdropping on a heated argument, presumably over nothing very important, that has broken out between a trio of hotheads. In “Tic Tac Joe,” the conflict seems more serious, with a bear-like beast squaring off against a man brandishing a knife worthy of Crocodile Dundee. But the high stakes are undercut by another scene playing out at their feet, in which another animal with the face of a reptile serenely chomps a different man’s entire head in the manner of a cow chewing its cud.

Lawrence Tarpey, A Much Better View, 2020, oil and graphite on gessobord, 8 x 10 inches.

Elsewhere the exhibit features at least three different apparent references to settings and elements associated with death, burial, and/or the afterlife. “The Excavators,” featuring a central figure holding a digging tool, is set in what might be an archaeological site or a graveyard. “Catacomb Central,” easily the most visually dark piece in the show, is a Dantesque vision of what could be an ancient underground crypt or, perhaps, a circle of the Inferno itself. On a lighter note, the denizens of “They All Worked Together” include what could be a floating mummy case and a wafting little fellow who could be Casper the Friendly Ghost’s helpful sidekick; if this is the underworld, life goes on here, nonetheless.

Lawrence Tarpey, Catacomb Central, 2021, oil on claybord, 7 x 5 inches.

The alert reader will have spotted a plethora of “seem,” “could be” and “might be” references in the above paragraphs, a mark of how Tarpey’s richly ambiguous paintings refuse to be pinned down. Certainly most if not all specific readings of his work are mostly unintended, at least consciously, by the artist, until well into the process of creating each piece. And even then – despite his suggestive, sometimes cheeky titles, which he describes as “mostly afterthoughts,” conceived quickly and after the fact – he largely leaves interpretation to the viewer, and is fully prepared for the fact that many viewers may interpret the work as darker and more foreboding than he intends.

“I don’t think my art is congruent with my mindset,” Tarpey – a genial, barrel-chested man of 63 who retains the head of dark thick hair and the physical vigor of the punk-rock band frontman he also still is – says in an interview at Institute 193. “A lot of art critics have talked about the mysterious, dark nature of my work, but when I’m making it, I’m not thinking of it that way. I’m just doing what comes naturally to me. Sure, it has a darker palette. But more than a foreboding vibe, I’m almost more interested in conveying humor. Maybe it’s a combination of the two.”

Photo Credit: Kevin Nance

In a tour of the show at the gallery and a subsequent, lengthy Zoom interview, during which we discussed his art, his artistic process and his life, Tarpey repeatedly emphasizes his art’s composition and other formal concerns over its thematic content. It emerges, he says, not from some intellectually pre-planned intention or creative vision but, rather, from his physical art-making process, which involves laying down blobs of dark oil paint and graphite, often with a sponge, on a pristine surface, usually clayboard or gessoed wood panel. He then works and reworks the paint – dabbing, mopping, scraping, scumbling, etching, sanding – until some evocative shapes emerge. At that point, and only then, he begins to develop and evolve those initially amorphous shapes into what have become his trademark human, semi-human, animal and hybrid figures, most of which eventually sprout limbs, heads, faces and, crucially, eyes and mouths.

It’s in that last step, of course, when the creative magic happens. The result is a weird and sometimes wacky dreamscape in which a vast cast of outlandish characters from the artist’s overpopulated subconscious romp, unfettered by reason, rules or anything else except the properties of paint and the typically tight confines of their frames.

But getting there is an intuitive process, not a cerebral one, into which Tarpey chooses not to inquire too closely.

“They just pour out of me,” he says of his frolicking figures and their shadowy stomping grounds. “I have no idea how it happens; I just know when it’s come together. Sometimes that happens right off the bat. Other times there’ll be maybe ten incarnations of a face. I work it and rework it until I go, hey, that’s pretty cool. And I leave that alone. And boom, there it is. There’s no explanation. And that’s what makes it exciting for me, frankly, because I have no idea what’s going to happen.”

Pressed, Tarpey likens his generative process to starting a fire in the woods. “You have to have wood, it has to be dry, and you have to understand friction,” he says. “It’s a process of putting all these elements together to create the fire, the fire being the painting.” Another analogy, he says, can be found in the once-popular childhood pastime of lying on your back looking up at the shape-shifting clouds: “Look, mom, an elephant!”

I suggest to Tarpey that this could be because he’s concerned that if he examined or interrogated the deepest origins of his art-making, it might disrupt his access to his subconscious, where all those little creatures live, waiting to be sprung.

“Exactly,” he says. “You’ve hit the nail on the head.”

*

Tarpey maintains a home studio in his small house in the west end of downtown Lexington, but he rarely paints there. That activity happens mostly in his living room, sitting comfortably on his sofa, almost always at night, often while watching TV, listening to podcasts or cranking up punk, rock and pop tunes, with occasional forays into the worlds of Frank Sinatra and Count Basie. (It’s a welcome respite from his other job, as a waiter. “When I’m waiting tables, I’m on my feet for eight hours. When I get home and want to work on a painting, I want to sit down,” he says with a laugh.) His favorite painting surface for more than twenty years has been clayboard. “It absorbs the oils, so your drying time is dramatically sped up, but not so sped up that everything sets prematurely,” he explains. “That gives you a nice little window of time where you can work the paint on the surface, scrape, etch, draw.”

In keeping with his free-associational, go-with-the-flow method of allowing his subject matter to materialize from the act of painting itself, Tarpey rarely makes studies. But once the imagery has bubbled up out of the paint, the artist dials in and begins to refine and sculpt the piece, often scratching and scumbling his surfaces with a utility razor of the type used in box-cutting tools. (“I’ve never cut myself,” he reports with a smile.) Generally monochromatic, most of the paintings feature foregrounds and backgrounds rendered in somber earth tones or shades of black and gray that recall the aquatints of Francisco Goya. “Subconscious States” does feature a few more colorful works, but these seem like the exceptions that prove the rule. The finished paintings are sealed in multiple coatings of varnish, giving them a pristine, polished quality that makes these hot-off-the-easel pieces feel like they might have been painted centuries ago.

The artist’s work sells well – he has several highly enthusiastic collectors who own many of his paintings – but that doesn’t seem high on his priority list. “I want people to like my work,” Tarpey says, “but it’s not for everybody, right? I’m not doing equestrian art, beautiful paintings of horses. I don’t have commercial concerns, really. It’s not part of the equation when I’m making art. I’m not thinking, how can I make this more marketable?”

He does make one commercial concession, in the area of size and scale. While he has occasionally painted large pieces, including murals, Tarpey is on balance a committed miniaturist, mostly for practical reasons.

“Large paintings are hard to sell,” he says matter-of-factly. “Sometimes people are intimidated by the size. Plus your material costs shoot up dramatically with large pieces, especially if you’re using good quality oil paint. And then, you know, it’s a matter of space. I live in an 1,100-square-foot house.” Accordingly, most of his paintings, including the ones in “Subconscious States,” are quite small, generally 5×7 inches (which currently sell for about $1,200), not including their bespoke frames, or 8×10 inches ($1,500). “The Excavators” was also included in notBIG(5), a 2019 group show at the M.S. Rezny Studio/Gallery that showcased works no bigger than 12×12 inches including the frame. Tarpey also creates limited editions of similar-sized digital prints, based on scanned bits and pieces of some of his paintings, that sell for $100 or less.

In a seemingly counterintuitive yet perhaps inevitable way, the constrained dimensions of Tarpey’s paintings might be a key factor in their being so heavily populated. In “Subconscious States,” for example, all but two of the works, “Gingus Kong” and “Profiles 2020,” are jam-packed with multiple figures and faces, as if in compensation for their small size.

Lawrence Tarpey, Gingus Kong, 2021, oil and graphite on claybord, 7 x 5 inches.

“The scale is important – he has more ideas per square inch than any artist I know,” says Lexington artist Ron Isaacs, who owns 25 paintings by his friend (“the largest collection of Tarpeys in captivity,” he says) and is, like Tarpey, represented by the Momentum Gallery in Asheville. “There’s so much going on in his work, and so much of it is surprising. I like the wit, the pure invention, the general nuttiness of it. I don’t try to think too hard about what his little figures are doing or feeling, or what the mood is. Of course, I have a high tolerance for ambiguity, and I think he does, too.”

*

Tarpey’s career as a mostly self-taught artist began when he was 11 or 12, doodling on his beige laminate desktop at Lansdowne Elementary School in Lexington. “That Formica surface was perfect for a No. 2 pencil,” he recalls. “I would sit in the back of class and start drawing on my desk. The bell would ring, and then I’d come back the next day and the drawing would still be there, and I’d keep working on it. Of course, I wasn’t paying attention to whatever the hell was going on in class.”

Over the years, Tarpey kept on doodling – “Sitting in a bar with my buddies drinking beer,” he says, “I’d always be drawing on a napkin” – and the paint application process he uses for his mature work can be seen as a natural evolution of those early desktop drawings. But the journey from there to here was a long and circuitous one, slowed but also shaped by his ADD (attention deficit disorder), which kept him from excelling scholastically, and, he says, by growing up in Lexington in the ’60s and ’70s. “Being in Kentucky, it can be somewhat of a disadvantage, culturally,” he says. “You’re not getting much encouragement, really, and you don’t have the cultural resources that you have in a larger city.”

Tarpey did take a few studio art classes at the University of Kentucky, which he attended briefly, but otherwise relied on subscriptions to Art in America and other art magazines to inform himself about the world of contemporary art. “At one time I thought about applying to the Art Institute of Chicago or the Pratt Institute, but I kind of dropped the ball on that,” he recalls in a wistful tone. “Then I got involved in music when I was in my early 20s, so that took up a lot of my creative time, writing and performing in punk and rock bands.” As a lead singer and lyricist, Tarpey has been a key figure in several bands over the years with names like Active Ingredients, The Resurrected Bloated Floaters, Born Joey and Rabby Feeber, whose music he describes as “aggressive, testosterone-fueled stuff.” His two current outfits, The Yellow Belts and The CRISPRS, have been sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic but hope to begin performing live again later this year. “Here I am, 63 years old,” he says, “and I still love it.”

“One of the reasons I gravitated to punk rock was that it was a democratic expression,” he explains. “A lot of the early punk rock bands, they didn’t even know how to play their instruments – they couldn’t put two chords together. But I just like the DIY, anti-establishment spirit of it. Anybody could start a band.” His process of writing song lyrics, he says, in some ways mirrors and perhaps even influenced his visual art. “The genesis of a lot of my song lyrics is kind of stream-of-consciousness, but then I sit down and actually write, which is where the hard work comes in. A lot of my lyrics are not real literal. They have one foot in reality and one foot in the stratosphere, which makes them a little bit ambiguous.” Just like his paintings, he might have said.

Back to those art magazines. It was in those pages, Tarpey says, where he first encountered many of the artists who influence him to this day. They include Philip Guston, whose oddly stylized figures and jowly faces, often staring balefully out from abstract backgrounds, seem genetically linked to some of Tarpey’s (a good example being “Gingus Kong” at Institute 193). Even more foundational for the artist was the Chicago Imagists painter Jim Nutt, whose antic, often testosterone-fueled work melds surrealism, Pop art and underground comic-book art in a way that made Tarpey feel as if he’d found an artistic forefather.

“I immediately gravitated toward Jim Nutt’s work because it’s hilarious and pristine,” Tarpey says in words that, it strikes me, could be used to describe his own work. “He was one of the first artists that I was really intrigued with, and have been ever since. First of all, I like the bizarre imagery. I kind of gravitate toward psychedelic weirdness, and he checks all the boxes. Plus, the meticulous nature of the way he works. His images are just crazy, but at the same time exquisite; you can tell he spends hundreds of hours on one piece. There’s definitely a cartoony, underground kind of vibe going on in his work, which is another thing that attracted me to it. He’s not a traditionalist at all; he’s made his own path in the art world.”

Today, in addition to Nutt and Guston, Tarpey cites a host of artists as influences, including Hieronymus Bosch, Goya, Picasso, Rothko, Franz Klein, Cy Twombly, Milton Avery, Wayne Thiebaud, Kim Dorland, Matthew Monahan, and Nicole Eisenman. (“She’s in my top 10.”) It’s a telling list, spanning styles and centuries, with all but Rothko bridging and joining the figure with some aspect of abstraction or dreamlike imagery. “My work is always planted in the real world – there’s always recognizable imagery, although it’s mostly expressionistic,” Tarpey says. “At times I’ve tried to go into the world of nonrepresentational, purely abstract painting, but I always have gravitated back toward figuration.”

It was the artist’s combination of expressionism and his interest in the figure that caught the eye of Heike Pickett and her husband, Irwin. Heike is the veteran Central Kentucky art dealer who represented Tarpey for many years at her now-closed galleries in Lexington and Versailles. “We’ve always been drawn to his figurative work,” she says in a recent interview. “It’s a fascinating and very original process that he’s come up with all on his own – the way he doesn’t come up with an idea and then try to express it. He just starts painting, and then things somehow evolve out of that. Subconsciously, I think, he has all this in his head, but it can’t come out until he starts working. It’s extraordinary, like a high form of doodling.”

It’s been a series of short hops, then, from that Formica desktop at Lansdowne Elementary to those napkins in smoky Lexington bars to the pristine white clayboards on Lawrence Tarpey’s sofa. A high form of doodling, out of which comes a universe.

Top Image: Lawrence Tarpey, The Excavators, 2019, oil and graphite on claybord, 5 x 7 inches.

Images of art courtesy of Institute 193.

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Plenty to Consider: Sparks & Marks at Arts Place Gallery

Sparks & Marks, an exhibition on view at Arts Place Gallery in downtown Lexington pairing works made by local artists Gordon Gildersleeve and Lawrence Tarpey, offers two individuals who are to be regularly counted amongst local artists of caliber. Gildersleeve creates an array of sculptures and furniture from a combination of wood, stainless steel, and other metals while Tarpey’s two-dimensional works earn their distinction from their miniature sizes and expressive marks. Both artists incorporate fantastical as well as figurative elements into the objects they make: it is this commonality that is the foundation of Sparks & Marks.

Lawrence Tarpey, Red’s World, 2016

Indeed, the similarities between Gildersleeve and Tarpey are prime for a lively duet. The majority of sculptures on display contain abstracted faces made from minimal amounts of metal scraps and barn wood. Likewise, the selection of Tarpey’s etchings is largely grayscale and comprised of individual scenes featuring small numbers of figures, animals, and undetermined shapes. Tarpey’s approach to storytelling is modest and vague: large areas of his etchings are dedicated to materiality and texture, exemplified by works like Red’s World (n.d). In Sparks & Marks, deliberate use of negative space is pressing here. The exhibition positions Gildersleeve and Tarpey as masters of their chosen materials who understand the visual footprint of each object they make.

Installation view, Sparks and Marks, ArtsPlace Gallery

Installation view, Sparks and Marks, ArtsPlace Gallery

Although these two artists are alike in the ways in which they incorporate negative space into their objects, they differ in their chosen subject matter—Tarpey’s scenes provoke feelings of ambiguity and transcendence while Gildersleeve’s sculptures push the boundaries of abstract figuration. Yet this difference cues another comparison. Tarpey’s dreamy depictions resemble compositions made by modern masters such as Marc Chagall and Joan Miro. Additionally, Gildersleeve seems to channel famous cubists like Picasso and Georges Braque. For this reason Sparks & Marks serves as an exploration in how the lineage of these notable art historical figures is continued on a local level.

With 49 objects in total, Sparks & Marks fully allows the idiosyncrasies of each artist to be present in the gallery. Those familiar with Tarpey’s practice will recognize many of his works in the exhibition employ the techniques and content they are used to seeing, including additive and reductive processes as well as amorphous forms. These and more are on display, as are examples of Tarpey’s recent experimentations in digital painting. Gildersleeve’s expansive practice is marked by metal renderings of human figures, birds, and everyday objects as well as pieces of furniture. Sparks & Marks emphasizes the abilities of both Gildersleeeve and Tarpey by means of an eclectic checklist, ensuring that each visitor realizes the extent to which these two artists deserve notoriety.

In the gallery, however, visitors are likely to feel crammed as they move through the space due to the amount of works on display. Arts Place Gallery is an accommodating gallery split in two sections, but the room is unable to maintain its spaciousness when it holds nearly fifty works. The exhibition design limits the audience’s ability to move freely around each work and consequently visitors are subjected to minimal viewing angles. While the checklist for Sparks & Marks demonstrates the impressive talents of each artist, it makes for a congested arena for art and viewer to interact.

Additionally, the checklist includes what seems like multiple bodies of work from each artist. Notably, Gildersleeve’s diverse subjects—human forms, faces, birds, and furniture—assist in preventing Sparks & Marks from making the strongest connection possible between its two featured artists. At times, this all-encompassing exhibition feels more like a showcase for two artists who are relatively similar and less like a study in specific regional aesthetic trends.

In spite of this, the number of works in Sparks & Marks detail the trajectory each artist has taken with his own work to arrive at their current states. The gallery acts as a roadmap that highlights Gildersleeve’s and Tarpey’s progression with subject matter, materials, and craftsmanship. Specifically, Tarpey’s path as a small-scale painter to a digital artist is encouraging and compelling—it is a humbling moment for those who have closely followed Tarpey’s career. In the same vein, the 49 objects are on loan from galleries, collectors, and the artists themselves. Gildersleeve and Tarpey clearly have support from members of the greater community, and Sparks & Marks sets out to make that known. It is a vague connection between the two artists, however, that is the exhibition’s shortcoming.

Sparks & Marks runs from July 14th to August 27th, 2016 at Arts Place Gallery, Lexington, KY.

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Ways of Validation: Lawrence Tarpey at the University of Kentucky Art Museum

Standing alongside one of the region’s most distinguished research universities, the University of Kentucky Art Museum is as an educational resource whose exhibitions are more than just presentations of artworks—they are institutional endorsements that can spearhead an artistic career. When an institution like the UK Art Museum, located inside of the Singletary Center for the Arts, selects an artist for a one-person exhibition, particular questions arise regarding its conception: Why this artist? What is it about their practice that is worth investigating? Why now?

Lawrence Tarpey: Figures and Ground, a solo exhibition featuring works made by Lexington-based artist Lawrence Tarpey, answers these questions primarily through the stark presentation of selections from Tarpey’s most recent body of work. With little accompanying wall text, Figures and Ground relies on the ambiguity of the artist’s methods, the peculiarities of Tarpey’s subject matter, and neighboring exhibitions to illustrate Tarpey’s uniqueness amongst his contemporaries and cement his rightful place in broader conversations about current art world trends.

Tarpey is currently represented by Heike Pickett Gallery in Lexington and his paintings and drawings—he refers to them as “etchings” because the aesthetic he achieves evokes modes of printmaking—are typically shown in small numbers as parts of group exhibitions. As Figures and Ground demonstrates, however, his works are best viewed in large collectives and without a thematic umbrella, for Tarpey is a world-builder who uses his art-making to create dense scenes that explore notions of rebirth, apocalyptic anxiety, and dreams, as well as the nature of art-making itself. By surveying a generous selection of Tarpey’s etchings, secondary motifs, such as systematic ordering and the quotidian, also become clear.

In Figures and Ground, some eighteen of Tarpey’s etchings taken from the artist’s studio, Heike Pickett Gallery, and local private collections are hung in a row at eye level in one of the museum’s most conventional gallery spaces. This string of images keeps one’s attention with all-over compositions, human and animal subjects, as well as bulbous—almost venereal—shapes and forms. Moreover, Tarpey’s miniature objects distinguish themselves from many other works in the museum based on size alone: The average dimensions for all works in the exhibition measures at 9.5 x 12.6”–Tarpey’s figures and shapes from his body of work are consistently scaled across pieces. Although specific narratives in Figures and Ground are altogether missing from the works on display, the exhibition’s design helps articulate a connection between each image.

Yet there is one break in the otherwise continuous line of works, which almost serves as a modest suggestion from the curatorial team as an entry- and exit-way into the exhibition’s scope. On the wall to the left of the gallery’s entrance, Back to School (2013) floats above Another Fly By (2010-2013), wherein the exhibition’s standard for eyelevel is found within the few inches of exposed wall between the two similarly dimensioned images. But this break goes unnoticed until one is fully inside the gallery and does not function as a visual rupture from the exhibition’s evenness. Rather, by taking two etchings with comparable blue-tones and stacking them without interfering with the show’s design, this unquestionably emerges as one of the exhibition’s more successful moments. This covert pairing is a checkpoint for the viewer’s trajectory.

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Lawrence Tarpey (American, b. 1957), Creation Demonstration, 2015, oil and graphite on clayboard. Courtesy of the UK Art Museum.

Once inside Tarpey’s world, a viewer will encounter Creation Demonstration (2015), a monochromatic scene filled with humanoids cohabiting within the same atmospheric space. But without a definitive foreground or background for the multitude of its figures to recede into, Creation Demonstration fails to privilege any one figure over another. Instead, the etching’s lack of depth combined with the horde of faces—all of which seem to stare in different directions but never at each other—insinuates a kind of spatial and temporal disorientation. Indeed, Creation Demonstration, with detailed inclusions of UFOs and floating heads, maintains an uneasiness that prompts notions of physical embodiment and unfamiliarity.

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Lawrence Tarpey (American, b. 1957), Rush Hour, 2009, oil and graphite on clayboard. Courtesy of Ron and Judith Isaacs.

Like Creation Demonstration, another etching by Tarpey, Rush Hour (2009), features an asymmetrical, all-over composition. But whereas the former is crowded with discernable faces and bodies, Rush Hour is a staging of abstract forms that leads to an uncertainty of the scene at hand. This work stops short of affirming a decisive foreground or background, ground or sky, and some of the forms depicted will surely inspire anthropomorphic readings (this could very well be what Tarpey intended). But without an accompanying label to guide one’s viewing or an apparent focus point, it is impossible to know for sure if these are more than just shapes floating in an unspecified space. Here, Tarpey allows the visitor to determine what exactly is going on. Rush Hour, with its heightened sense of ambiguity, can be framed as a test of perception—our viewing habits inform our ability to generate meaning. Artworks that challenge traditional conventions of looking undoubtedly belong to creative trends developed in the 20th and 21st centuries, and Rush Hour is yet another example that does just that.

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Lawrence Tarpey (American, b. 1957), Tex Mex, 20176, oil and graphite on gessoed plywood. Private Collection.

Tarpey’s world also includes nods to popular culture. Tex Mex (2016) contains a highly stylized map partially blocked by figures in the foreground, one of whose forehead is labeled with the latter of the work’s title. Tex Mex personifies the relations between the United States and Mexico but—in a manner similar to Creation Demonstration—Tarpey only provides the beginning of a story. He allows the viewer to complete the narrative based on how they interpret what is presented. In a less representational setting, the meaning implied in The Weather Channel (2016) hinges on the obsessive use of blues. It could be that Tarpey means for feelings associated with rain—gloominess, melancholy, and cleansing—to be appropriate implications upon seeing the etching. But as the figures in The Weather Channel interact with the content from other works in the exhibition, it becomes just as plausible that Tarpey’s titling methods are only gimmicks that further the sense of ambiguity linked with the world the artist creates.

The objects in Figures and Ground were made by drawing, painting, and scraping on panels, making for both additive and reductive techniques—a true push-and-pull process. Tarpey is constantly taking and giving, destroying so that he can create again. By allowing a substantial amount of Tarpey’s objects to occupy the same space, Figures and Ground highlights the degrees in which Tarpey’s renderings allude to more than their depicted scenes. With the endorsement of a solo exhibition, the subtleties of Tarpey’s art are able to reveal themselves in ways they could not had only a few of his works been included in a group exhibition.

Lawrence Tarpey: Figures and Ground is positioned alongside an exhibition featuring works made by Natalie Frank, a notable contemporary artist who also incorporates fantastical elements and figurative subjects into her art-making, as well as a two-person show that pairs the staged photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Duane Michals. Tarpey’s validation as a noteworthy artist is enhanced by the accompanying presence of these three artists whose careers are marked by exhibits at major museums and galleries. While Figures and Ground serves as an endorsement of a cherished local artist, it is also a means of situating Tarpey amongst the broader art community.

Lawrence Tarpey: Figures and Ground runs from May 6th to July 31st, 2016 at the University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY.

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Come on in…

UnderMain is pleased to launch our new virtual gallery showcasing works by one of Lexington’s own, Lawrence Tarpey. Lawrence was kind enough to work with us on multiple occasions to make this new experience a reality. We are excited at the possibilities this presents and for the opportunity to curate future on-line exhibitions.

Visit the Virtual Gallery

Click on the link and enjoy from your desktop, mobile, or tablet (be sure to check it out on mobile).

Also, how about a little feedback? Let us know what you think by emailing us at editorial@under-main.com or commenting on our related Facebook post.

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