Neil Raitt at Anat Ebgi

Happy Together with Neil Raitt

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As you enter the gallery, you are immediately greeted by a wall of graduating chromatic chains, formed by a repetitive pattern from seemingly a familiar logo. Ah yes, Kappa? Casually scanning the image but not letting yourself be fully immersed, you enter the main space. The unmistakably distinct and incredible odor of oil paint swiftly attacks your nose; it’s a delight. You are momentarily transported across the Atlantic to the artist’s studio. So far so good.

Hung on the high walls of the gallery are Neil Raitt’s large and medium scale paintings. Decorated with easily recognizable motifs, frightfully dizzying patterns form, packing the canvases. In a several of this young British artist’s paintings, you see snow-capped mountaintops. There are wooden cabins and trees, too. On others, you spot crashing ocean waves with palm trees swaying in the wind. Each work is painted with a gradual shift in colors, creating a spectrum and activating the surrounding negative space with oscillating vibes.

Clearly, the representational motifs themselves are gosh-darn kitschy. Harking back to the trademark once championed by infamous Bob Ross, Raitt’s statement of happy paintings further pushes you, through the shabby door, into a virtual thrift store; or perhaps onto a weedy driveway for a yard salte fire sale. The paintings lure you to treat them like a two buck chuck.

After all, kitsch is a kitsch is a kitsch, no matter the size or how many times the motifs are painstakingly painted and laboriously multiplied by hand. Yes? You pause to think. And you decide, “No.” The sum of all the Raitt’s parts are somehow so much more —greater and strangely or wittingly happier. You leave the gallery looking like a smirky face emoji.

Neil Raitt’s Happy Painting is on view at Anat Ebgi in Culver City through May 30, 2015. It’s a GOTTA-CHECK-IT-OUT.

All images by author for editorial purposes only.

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