Originally hailing from New Mexico and now based in Los Angeles, Drew Merritt got his creative start in the urban Graffiti scene. His work blurs a line between the looseness of his street art and rich detail and sensitivity of classical painting. There is often an unfinished quality about his paintings as drips of paint fall off his subjects, laid against white backdrops tagged by spray paint. Usually, his paintings feature “pretty girls,” a description that Merritt hopes to shake. True, his subjects are attractive, but they are not painted out of sexual desire; shown in various states of emotional reflection, they are more like an update on the reclining figures of Renaissance art. Lost in thought or unconscious, they are unaware of their audience’s presence. Merritt looked to Baroque painting for the inspiration behind his latest body of work, “Requiem”, on view at Soze Gallery in Los Angeles. His series evokes the drama, deep colors, and intense light and dark shadows that we find in the works of masters like Velázquez and Caravaggio, with a taste of 1850s West, represented in his subjects’ clothing. “Requiem is a body of work with diverse thoughts and emotions expressed in each painting; meant to mirror life and it’s individualized complexities. This is also represented in pieces that feature the subject characterized more than once,” Merritt says. “A saying that continuously comes to mind when thinking of the shows content is: I’d rather be genuinely sad than artificially happy.”
“Requiem” by Drew Merritt is now on view at Soze Gallery in Los Angeles through October 25th, 2015.