CHRIS GWALTNEY is a painter from Southern California. He paints in a lush style, combining areas of abstraction with loose figurative elements. He experiments with sensuous surface finishes, compiling multiple layers of paint and oil stick that show drips and various markings. Gwaltney’s paintings are open ended; the style is free and unfinished which allows the viewer to fill in the essence of each story.
The current body of work revolves around the theme of “rallentando”, an Italian musical term that means “to slow down”. Gwaltney’s ruminations on time in these paintings are reflective of a new stage in his life after his children are grown and both his own father and father-in-law have passed. The artist finds himself taking the role of patriarch of the family and he is struck with the desire to slow down time and to find a point of stillness.
In these paintings the figure is expressed as a gesture, a presence simply articulated with line and stroke, often seen as walking alone or in relation to one or more figures. He builds and sketches on the canvas, taking away what is unnecessary, paring down the visual language. In this - and in his interest in color relations, he might be compared to Milton Avery, although he is more likely to site artists like Richard Diebenkorn and Nathan Oliveira.