Exhibit at Katalyst Gallery, Los Angeles

I will be exhibiting a few paintings in a group show presented by the newest gallery space in downtown Los Angeles, California, the Katalyst Foundation for the Arts. Starting May 31, 2008, and running until the end of June, 2008, Pulse Point will be the second exhibit offered by Katalyst in its temporary gallery near the historic Little Tokyo district of L.A. Reading from the gallery’s press release:

“The term ‘Pulse Point’ in Eastern Medicine alludes to the spot on the human body where the indication of life registers strongest. Katalyst Foundation for the Arts presents an exhibition of seven visual artists offering their own reflection of culture’s pulse points. Iraqi artist Paul Batou’s lustrous images of pre-war Baghdad neighborhoods, Sculptor Lilli Muller’s figurative work, Mark Vallen’s realist portraits and John Paul Thornton’s large panels depicting religious rituals are on display.”

Amongst the paintings I will be showing are two that I have just completed – large oil on canvas depictions of burning palm trees. Belonging to a larger series of such paintings I continue to work on, the blazing trees are part historical observation and part metaphorical expression. Naturally palm trees are omnipresent in my home city of Los Angeles, and they have become an internationally celebrated icon of Southern California, but on April 29th, 1992, I witnessed L.A.’s palm trees set ablaze during the Rodney King riots – and I have been struggling to capture that vision on canvas ever since. By the same token, my paintings also allude to the untamed natural environment of my city, where annual brushfires rage through the hills in and around the metropolitan area.

Oil painting by Mark Vallen

[ Burning Palm Tree – Mark Vallen 2008. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 inches. ]

Time does not permit my writing about all of the talented artists involved in the Pulse Point show, but I would like to draw attention to the works of Mr. Batou, a native Iraqi artist in exile from his country since 1989. Batou’s paintings jump back and forth from naïve realism to severe abstraction, but his works are always permeated with a deep sense of love and longing for his native land. Many of his dreamlike canvases evoke ancient Babylon with its gods and mythic figures, and his paintings are often covered in the Kufic style of Arabic script developed in Iraq in the 8th century. It is certainly a pleasure to exhibit with him, and his artistic voice is unquestionably an indication of where “life registers strongest.”

Oil painting by Paul Batou

[ Woman in Abaya – Paul Batou. Oil on canvas. The abaya is worn by women in Iraq and throughout the Islamic world as a pull-over garment worn loosely over clothing. ]

The opening for Pulse Point took place on Saturday May 31st, 2008. A closing party for the exhibit will take place on June 28, 2008, from 7 until 11 pm. The Katalyst Foundation for the Arts is located at 201 S. Santa Fe Ave. #207, Los Angeles CA 90012. (click here for a map). To view the show by appointment, or for more information, phone: 213-604 3634.

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