Los Angeles based artist Derek Albeck’s recent solo show at POVevolving Gallery in LA’s Chinatown entitled, “Mysterious Strangers” is that of nostalgia and personal history. Known for his photorealistic graphite drawings and flannel mask installations, Albeck’s representations are flawless. His use of mirrors, both broken and whole, are there to add an entirely different world of color, and a sense of identity, to his otherwise black and white pieces. The stories behind them add even more.
Several of the characters displayed in “Mysterious Strangers” are just that, relatives in Albeck’s life that he barely knew. “The narrative aspect of the work is romantic, in a sense, because I’m trying to re-appropriate these things that happened in my life. For me, it’s all about forming an identity, recreating these pasts to make sense of the present,” says Albeck.
The floor installation, a boat filled with shattered pieces of glass, also contains a framed graphite portrait of an uncle he barely knew growing up and only heard wild stories about. “Ever since I was little I had this fascinating view of him because he lived on the fringe,” Albeck explains. It serves as a memorial piece for his offbeat uncle, a man who mysteriously disappeared at sea recently.
Another focal point of the show is the graphite re-appropriation of a quirky portrait of his grandmother, a woman with a dog in her arms and a pet marmoset perched on her shoulder. This is a portrait of the same woman Albeck cringed at the thought of visiting when he was a child. It's an intriguing portrait of a woman who he rediscovered as well traveled, and an accomplished portrait painter after reading her autobiography years after her death.
Not only did Albeck use the pieces in this show to reinvent his own personal history, but also to experiment with different techniques. Having gone to school for printmaking at Cal State Northridge, Albeck took the opportunity to incorporate seriography and graphite transfers to recreate some of the photographic images on paper.
“Those pieces are pretty much where my work is going. The drawings aren’t gonna go away, but it’s a process I’m in love with right now,” Albeck adds.
The second half of 2011 holds exciting things in store for Albeck, including a long and much awaited European vacation, as well as the hand made creation of an artist book. The run of three include 28 pages of 28 looking glass prints, some shown in “Mysterious Strangers” and others never been seen, one print for every year of his life.
Derek Albeck’s “Mysterious Strangers” is running through June 10th at POVevolving gallery in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.
Photos by Ruth Swanson
Written by: Chelsea Green
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