Strangers & Off the Wall, Opening January 20

Julius, Kevin Isgett

Some may say the subjects found in Kevin Isgett’s latest anthology of acrylic portraits are odd, what with their wide-set eyes, blotchy complexions, and peculiar proportions. But odd was never Isgett’s intention. “My goal,” the South Carolina artist reveals in a press statement, “is not to make something weird, but something weirdly familiar and personal.” You can see his work in Strangers, a solo showcase opening at Upstairs Artspace this January. According to Isgett, the exhibition focuses on “non-academic models of portraiture” by embracing the aesthetic and style of early American folk artists. “I try to unlearn rules that I’ve been taught,” says Isgett. “It excites me to paint portraits that I make up as I go along. It’s like meeting someone completely unexpected.” Off the Wall, a joint show featuring Asheville artists Suzanne Dittenber and Mark Flowers, will run concurrently. An associate professor of painting at UNC Asheville, Dittenber will present paintings made using pigmented pulp on paper — a “body of work that playfully examines the inputs and byproducts of both industrial and agrarian food systems.” Meanwhile, Flowers has employed an improvisational process to create collage-like pieces inspired by his travels to Baltimore, Maryland. “I see my work as ‘visual jazz’ conceptually,” says Flowers. “My previous narratives have now evolved into more abstract, free-form imagery.” 

Strangers & Off the Wall: January 20-March 15; Opening Reception: Saturday, Jan. 20, 5-7pm

Upstairs Artspace / 49 South Trade St., Tryon

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