Painting to me it’s a life force, not a career. Later on in my life, in order to refine what I learned through experience and years of practice, I attended the Art Students League of New York, The New York Academy of Art, and FIT(Fashion Institute of Technology) where I studied portraiture and human anatomy.
My work has been shown in various solos and group exhibits in New York and Baltimore, MD, and are owned by private collectors throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada. One of my paintings is in the permanent collection of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Another work is included in the September 11 Digital Archives at the Center of History and New Media at Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia. I have also been published twice in Boheme Magazine online, in Paris, France. My commentary on one of the works by Jean-Michael Basquiat, was included in his exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2005. One of my paintings was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York. (June of 2005.) My work is also in the Library of Congress; Exhibit No. 1132 Archive No. 783, and also has been featured in NY Arts Magazine, Brooklyn Fine Art magazine, and the Arts & Entertainment supplements of Brooklyn Eagle (In Brooklyn) and the Brooklyn Courier (24/7). Some of the important portraits that I have painted include; actors Sidney Poitier and Tony Cutis, the Italian Fashion designer Valentino Garavani, US senator Roland Borris and His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
In pursuing my art, I focused primarily on the human figure. This decision was initially an aesthetic one, although an even deeper response to the human condition has inspired my work. I believe human beings are noble. We live with the knowledge that some day our lives will end and we wonder if there is a purpose to our existence. I believe there is a very tragic, noble quality to this basic condition. I believe that to create is to reach into the depth of your soul and let your spirit free; to grasp the first impression through sight and transform it into an idea and ultimately into a piece of art. I believe art is not always our expression of the beauty that surrounds us in every day lives; it is also our expression of our anger, frustration, sorrow, happiness or dreams harbored in our unconscious mind, which we are unable to express in words.
I believe art is communication with one another. Those that can see between the fine lines can break the code and ‘read’ the message. Art to me is like religion; you must believe in it, practice it, and share it. When I paint, I want the end results to reflect my mood at that time. Having a range of moods, I have a variety of styles. After many years of creating figurative paintings, I am now beginning to change directions and am leaning towards figurative abstract expressionism. Now in my paintings, I want to offer a creation and have the viewer complete it with his interpretation. I believe art should offer more then one view; it no longer belongs to the artist alone. When we view art, it should take us on an intimate journey.
For me, this new direction is a reawakening in my paintings that allows me to express my ‘ideas’ more effectively. However, as Mark Rothko believed, I too believe that there should be a clear line between illustration, design, decoration, and the production of fine art. I believe art should have its own ‘reality’ not merely mimic the visual world around us. The essence of painting is, to me, the artist’s unique perspective on the world and his communication of that perspective to the observer. When we view his painting we enter his reality. Therefore, I have shifted from my realistic paintings to the evolution of a more abstract style. Paintings that are disturbing to look at , as is the case in some of my recent works, are meant not as a sneering judgment, but as a genuinely sympathetic appraisal of the human condition, with the end of mending and healing, not dismembering and destroying.
I believe art must aspire to a loftier goal than commentary and must speak to the essentially human aspect common to all of us if it is to succeed. When it does, it is timeless and tragic.
Leon Nicholas Kalas