IN THE STUDIO: Chris Trueman

Chris Trueman is a Los Angeles based artist specializing in iridescent paintings and digital media that evoke the self-contained chaos of graffiti murals and Op-Art. His latest paintings involve a process where paint is alternately added and removed, resulting in frenzied compositions that nearly appear digitally manipulated in their otherworldly layering. He will be featured in our upcoming exhibition “Here & There” at Winston Wächter Fine Art Seattle, which aims to highlight the differences and similarities between digital and physical work.

Chris Trueman, LAF, Acrylic and acrylic spray paint on yupo mounted to sintra, 53 x 59.75 inches, 2019

“The latest work is acrylic and acrylic spray paint on Yupo. I staple the Yupo directly to my wall and then proceed to make paintings through a repeated process of laying thick paint or gel onto the Yupo. Then in the window of time while the paint is still wet, I work around and over top of the thick paint. Before the thicker paint dries, I squeegee the wet paint off, leaving a negative space where the mark once was.” — Chris Trueman

Chris Trueman, In The Studio

Yupo is a synthetic, non-absorbent paper that, unlike other materials, allows full erasure of marks. Brushstrokes that remain take on a glossy, smooth sheen that recalls the crystalline clarity of high-resolution digital images. Trueman removes sections of paint and spray-paint before the layer dries, exposing underlying textures and colors. The resulting “negative space” appears as both the absence and presence of a brushstroke, as if someone has ripped into the painting to reveal an entirely new composition hiding underneath.

Chris Trueman, In The Studio

“I think of Abstract Expressionism and how the mark itself was a form of a signature, that the mark could be dissected to tell us about the artist, the speed of the mark, the thickness of the mark, the scale and boldness of it. We could read the confidence of the mark, the energy of it— whether excited or calm. What happens when we remove that mark? When all that is left is an empty space where it once was or some residue of the mark where more of the internal components had dried.” — Chris Trueman

Trueman has extended this practice of layered mark-making into his digital work, where he trains an AI model to generate morphed interpretations of his paintings. After sifting through these digitized renderings, he begins to stitch together an initial video layer that seamlessly flows between different AI readings of his work.

“I then create a mask layer or two from the composition of a separate painting. This mask will allow two layers of videos to play together in a jigsaw-like configuration. I add several other layers that often include moire patterning and other layers that alter color and visual texture. The result is a painting in motion that is constructed by the cannibalized parts of my artistic practice.” — Chris Trueman

Chris Trueman, MIA3, Still, Video, NFT, 2021

In his digital work, Trueman is able to deepen the sense of kaleidoscopic restlessness present in his paintings. In both “ACD2” and “MIA3,” an endless barrage of loosely defined moving shapes creates the illusion of depth. The element of time aids the limitations of two-dimensional work, furthering the impression that Trueman’s compositions are immersive spaces to sink into. Through combining altered versions of already layered paintings, Trueman creates mazelike environments that recall the infinitude of a fractal.

“The video work enacts a process that I envision my paintings going through, where the surface and facade of a painting gives way to reveal another state— another painting. If Abstraction in the 20th century is rooted in singularity of presence— about not yielding to illusion— 21st century abstraction contends with a multiplicity of being, where the natural state is perpetual change.” – Chris Trueman

Both “LAF” and “ACD2” will be featured in Here and There, which opens on December 8 and goes through January 22.

Click here to view more work by Chris Trueman