by Angie Kordic
It’s no secret that many graffiti artists, who grew up tagging abandoned buildings and walls, turn to canvases at some point in their artistic career. Sometimes their style evolves too, becomes more expressive, mysterious, engaging. This is the case with Lou Ros, a French artist who has been painting since the age of 17. While we can still glimpse his roots in street art, his artworks are now more mature, looking to grab the viewer’s attention and tickle their imagination. This summer, his latest body of work consisting of portraits and landscapes will be hosted by San Francisco’s Dolby Chadwick Gallery, in an exhibition entitled SOMEWHERE.
For Lou Ros, there are three main directions in which his new art unfolds. The first: portraits that allude to movement, transition; the second, mystery-filled scenery based on historical photos that the artist collects; and third, a brand new field of exploration, privy of human presence whatsoever – the landscape. When it comes to portraits, Lou Ros usually depicts his friends and fellow artists, naming the artworks with their initials. And so, we have paintings like SR or YM, which portray a man and a woman respectively, under the veil of intrigue, as though he’s calling upon us to dwell on their identities. Sometimes we get our answers through a second portrait of the same person which comes to reveal more on its subject and sometimes it is all left to our own intuition and interpretation of what we see before us; it is our story to tell now and it is exactly what Lou Ros intended.
In another part of his work, Lou Ros draws from historical photos from the 1930s and 40s that he collects. Again, we see blurry figures in situations like at the doctor’s, or in some kind of a meeting. We don’t really know what is happening and perhaps we’re not supposed to – anything is possible and everything is right. But what is probably the most interesting for the audience and the artist himself is that he undertook a task to depict something that does not involve his favorite subject since ever: people. It is a non-place, it could be somewhere or nowhere, yet this landscape too hides a certain secret longing to be discovered. Whether its hazy streets or blurry deep forest, it lures us in, makes us feel as though we’re right inside it, trying to find our place, or maybe escape one.
Through his landscapes and portraits, Lou Ros puts human response and imagination to a kind of test, a survey of thought and a variety of understandings of the same thing. At the same time, the artist offers us a chance to get away from reality and delve into a dream that he triggered, but that is ours only nevertheless. SOMEWHERE, an exhibition of works by Lou Ros, will be on view at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco, USA, from July 7 through August 27, 2016. The opening reception is scheduled for July 7 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.