News
Aaron Curry: Painterly Awakening
Cultured
Ted Loos
Summer 2014

Artists’ personalities don’t always match up to the personalities of their work, and that was never more true than with Aaron Curry, a Los Angeles–based sculptor and painter who is in the spotlight of late.His sculptures, which took over the plaza at New York’s Lincoln Center last fall in a monumental outdoor exhibition called “Melt to Earth,” are big and brightly colored—they practically grab you by the lapels to look at them. And Curry is now taking Europe by storm with two June shows on the continent—one in London, one in Bordeaux—that demonstrate his evolving artistry.

The 41-year-old Curry, however, is heavily bearded and intensely soft-spoken, several leagues away from the self-promoting artist type who has come to define the current gallery scene. “I don’t do the social things,” says Curry sheepishly. “I have a studio at home, and I’m there all day, every day—but I do have lunch with my wife.”

Artists’ personalities don’t always match up to the personalities of their work, and that was never more true than with Aaron Curry, a Los Angeles–based sculptor and painter who is in the spotlight of late.

His sculptures, which took over the plaza at New York’s Lincoln Center last fall in a monumental outdoor exhibition called “Melt to Earth,” are big and brightly colored—they practically grab you by the lapels to look at them. And Curry is now taking Europe by storm with two June shows on the continent—one in London, one in Bordeaux—that demonstrate his evolving artistry.

The 41-year-old Curry, however, is heavily bearded and intensely soft-spoken, several leagues away from the self-promoting artist type who has come to define the current gallery scene. “I don’t do the social things,” says Curry sheepishly. “I have a studio at home, and I’m there all day, every day—but I do have lunch with my wife.”

At the London branch of Michael Werner Gallery, he’s showing works on canvas through early August, and at the prestigious CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, a mid-career retrospective of Curry’s work began in May with a large emphasis on paintings. “I started out as a painter in school,” says Curry, reflecting on his early experiments hooking up paintings to an amplifier to combine that medium with his love of music.

But Curry’s canvases don’t lack for visual pizzazz. The mottled, morphing, sometimes vaguely grotesque forms at Michael Werner demonstrate one of his primary influences: the Chicago Imagists of the 1970s and ’80s, whose work he experienced when studying in that city. “I’m a big fan of the Imagists,” he says, referring to painters like Jim Nutt and Ed Paschke, who took cartoon imagery and traveled to a darker place with it.

Curry stopped painting about 10 years ago to focus on sculpture, but a year ago took it up again.

“I didn’t intend to show them, so there was no pressure,” he says. “But they developed, and now it’s time.” He doesn’t work with assistants, so it was just Curry in the studio, making progress in the slow, steady way for which he’s becoming known. “I don’t make drastic changes—I just keep moving forward.”