Michael Callas is a Los Angeles based visual artist known for his architectural and renaissance works. He was raised in Southern California, where he started his career in the late 2000’s after leaving architectural school. Rooted in pop art, street art, and graphic design, Callas’ paintings consist of spray paint and precise stencil work. Intricately produced through a rigorous process of drafting, mapping, and hand-cutting individually cut templates before being transposed onto canvas with spray paint. Callas creates a surface that is uniform and rich in color. His unique process and work have captured worldwide acclaim.
Along a wall of this warehouse is a 20-foot long shelf stocked with an endless supply of aerosols meticulously coded by color and tone. In the corner, a spray plate sits stacked under a pile of hardened acrylic gloop--the culmination of tens of thousands of test sprays--at this moment drying into a sharp reflective chrome. There’s an atmosphere of orderliness in this studio: large paintings neatly slid into racks, the floor cleanly swept, not a single tool out of its box, not a single box unbuckled. It’s not what one imagines to be the typical artist’s habitat; there’s a forceful order to what happens here, the spirit of its host approaching something more of Henry Ford than Jean-Michel.
It was in this spirit, channeling great industrialists, the Greeks, the builders of civilization, that I saw Michael Callas peering out at the Los Angeles skyline as if it was his to build upon. And when you look at the 10-foot-tall painting of the artist sitting in a glasshouse perched cliff-side in the Hollywood Hills overlooking all of Southern California, you’ll see it too.
It’s the type of attitude you get from an artist who doesn’t regard the edge of the canvas as the limit of his pursuit. For Callas, all of Southern California and the world for that matter is fair game for the imagination to play out its visions.
The son of a commercial airline pilot, Callas developed a unique appreciation for mechanics and engineering at a young age, creating sophisticated furniture and interiors with advanced carpentry and other building techniques. Callas would eventually come to fine art by way of architecture utilizing his experience as a draughtsman and builder to form the basis for his painting practice. Characteristically ambiguous and ill-defined, it was painting that would provide Callas the opportunity to explore without practical limitations. After all, there’s no fear of the roof falling in and it could be fluorescent pink.
It comes as no surprise then when you see the methodical process by which Callas creates his paintings, that you witness a fusing of artist with logician. Each painting begins to an extant as a mathematical equation; a rigorous progression of scaling, drafting, mapping, and hand-cutting precise templates to accurately engineer an aerosol-ready image. It’s by way of this tightly controlled procedure that Callas can then unleash with full force the universe contained in the 10,000 cans of his meticulously coded colors.
The process was first established with a body of work known as the Case Study Paintings--a series in which we also see the emergence of Callas’ artistic identity. The Case Study Paintings, made between 2011 and 2014 showcase the moment painter and architect combine to detail the artist’s coming of age as both an individual and creator.
Abundance by Subtraction
Christopher “Flore” Florentino operates in an atmosphere of fundamentalism. He creates what he feels, thus creating a feeling. Gesture. Color. Juxtaposing the two simply by the way he moves his brush.
In “Abundance by Subtraction,” Flore captures energy, the intrinsic element in all that has ever been created. What is portrayed on canvas - from color combinations to brush stroke blends - is an extension of his inner frequency, depicting the energy of the moment. Visible are the individual lines that comprise the pieces, patiently following a path and letting the process take him to completion of composition “kotsu kotsu,” step by step. The intensity of a brush stroke and its corresponding color reflect the emotion of that instant; a bold, red stroke is aggressive, powerful, forceful whereas a calm, blue one
emanates smoothness and delicacy. Balance. Unique to this collection is the way the viewer analyzes the works: from within. Flore’s oeuvre emulates Japanese culture: its simplicity, being in tune with self and the earth, acting with purpose and intention. The technique of ikebana, used in arranging flora, is mirrored in this collection to reduce stimuli and let the minimalistic presentation shine in “abundance by subtraction.” He calls upon an array of objects symbolic to Japan, notably bonsai trees and their ability to elicit serenity and zen, to complete the aesthetic.
“Bonsai trees, like my pieces that capture living moments, are living art, and are not the same from day to day, constantly evolving. Change is subjective; even if the same person looks at a piece on two different occasions, their interpretations may be entirely different. That, to me, makes the work feel timeless.”
Drawing inspiration from his painting predecessors Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell and Willem De Kooning, Flore applies moments from their works most resonant with him and reconfigures them on a larger scale, from Mitchell’s clustered strokes to De Kooning’s generous application of paint and Twombly’s gestural spirituality. Christopher Florentino takes these focal points, subtracts the excess and lets the core ideas flow on canvas, thriving in abundance.
“Beauty through the art of subtraction is a deceptively simple quality that we admire in the world around us, an underlying element that speaks of confidence, awareness and strength.”
“Art is a statement. Art is revolutionary. Art is a message. Art is creating. Art is individual. Art is a piece of the artist.”
Other Represented Artists
With flagship galleries in Los Angeles and Miami and permanent art curations in Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, Eden Roc Hotel Miami Beach and Catch Restaurant Los Angeles, Art Angels was founded in 2013 by Jacquelin Napal and Kat Emery.
Art Angels’ contemporary and provocative style has attracted collectors from around the world. Exhibiting a selection of both established and emerging artists, Art Angels offer a truly eclectic mix for their clientele with an ever growing number of innovative artists joining the Art Angels family.
The rapidly successful gallery has become the go-to destination for artists and collectors alike, who want to be a part of something visionary and unique. Attracting a wealth of high profile businesses and individuals as clients, Art Angels offers the VIP experience whilst maintaining the down to earth, approachable vibe it built itself on.
Reflecting on their success, the Angels note; Art Angels was built out of a shared love for art and the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy and acquire art in an environment that is both welcoming and inspiring.
Having become the go-to gallery for the chic and elite, many would be happy with the empire that they’ve built, but this is just the start and the girls show no signs of slowing down. Now one of the leading galleries in Los Angeles and a major player in the art and creativity sphere, it is impossible to ignore this hugely successful business. The gallery has a core team of art specialists dedicated to providing collectors, designers, developers and corporations with the tools needed to offer innovative and creative art from around the world.
Art Angels describe themselves as a premium luxury brand who are inviting and very approachable. Whilst grateful for their rapid growth and success, their determination to continue to grow and push boundaries shines through. Showcasing a number of barrier breaking exhibitions including David Yarrow, Russell Young, Flore, Nick Veasey and Mike Dargas to name a few, Art Angels are definitely not afraid to break tradition and take risks. Along with their innovative suite of artists, Art Angels encourage thinking outside the norm and making sure everything is done with intention and creativity. The gallery was quick to build a cult following - so much so that they have recently expanded their LA gallery and recently opened a new space in Miami, with more to come.
Reflecting on the past few years, Kat Emery notes; “We are self-financed with two locations and many more to come, that will continue to service thousands of clients across the world. Our passion has never dwindled and we are always so inspired when we meet new talent and cannot wait to share innovative new artists with our clients.
We firmly believe that every acquisition should be a marriage of aesthetic appreciation and wise investment and we make it our business to offer both the beginner and experienced investor the perfect marriage of an enriching and sophisticated appreciation of contemporary art and the financial satisfaction of investment performance.”
The future certainly looks bright for this female powerhouse and the Art Angels themselves might just be their own best advertisement. Creating from the heart and trusting their own intuition, the girls have gone from strength-to-strength in a typically male dominated world and have a real passion for art and women in business.