“Perched,”Oakland-based painter, muralist, teacher, and social activist Cameron Thompson’s solo show at Loakal Art Gallery is filled with a completely new series of paintings, and debuts his new collection of textile works. This exhibition is not Thompson’s first time showing at the Jack London Square-based gallery; he was one of the invited artists for this year’s iteration of the annual event, “Carpe Diem” in which artists tested their creative skills to make an artwork within 24 hours. Thompson (who also works under the pseudonym Aware) takes its inspiration from the artist’s desire to find balance in both his art and his life. — the title of the show evokes this search to find a stable place from whence to observe and reflect. His graffiti pseudonym, “Aware” was chosen from a similar place of mindfulness. Says the artist: “[My work] focuses on being grounded and finding a balance in the hustle and rat race of everyday living… The meditation before taking flight.”
His primary subject matter of birds and other animals are illustrated in multiple shards of color that coalesce together in at times ordered and tessellated, others seemingly haphazard puzzle pieces to form what the audience perceives, which has been previously compared to larger, abstracted genres of art like Cubism, but unlike Cubism that reveled in the hustle and bustle of modern life, Thompson’s interest in finding a stasis from chaos impels him to draw carefully smooth, robust lines that emphasize clarity amid abstraction. Like many of Thompson’s murals, some paintings in “Perched” take their cue from totem poles. This inspiration, as well as his dedicated focus on animal subjects comes as much from Thompson’s Native American heritage as it does his earnest interest in bringing the beauty and color of the flora and fauna from a lush, natural landscape at terms with the urban sprawl of Oakland, and its intersecting highways and interstates. One particularly unique element of Thompson’s show are the deeply engaging, colorful fabric samples stretched upon canvas frames, which elevates them to the art form status they deserve. These works strive for the same harmony through symmetry and tessellation as his other works do through color and line. When looking upon the artist’s entire practice: from deconstructing the animal figures into geometrical shapes to simply his thoughtful application of application of color, Thompson has made a creative expansion almost seamlessly upon his art practice’s concerns and interests with these series of textiles, and has introduced another elaborate layer by simple means into his practice that brings greater depth and meaning to his work.
“Perched,” new works by Cameron Thompson will be at Loakal Gallery, 560 2nd Street through September 30, 2014