Known for his wheatpastes and murals that dot the California landscape, Eddie Colla explores the primitive instincts present in all people in his upcoming solo exhibition “Atavisms” at Ian Ross Gallery in San Francisco.
“Atavisms,” a biology term for ancestral traits that re-appear after several generations, is an appropriate title for the exhibition, which features harrowing portraits painted with a suppressed aesthetic reminiscent of old anonymous photographs one finds in antique shops. The faces, though distinct and personal, are also strangely familiar. Colla’s portraits are successful for the emotional impact present in his character’s eyes. The figures in “Atavisms” are no different, and the viewer is compelled to identify with feelings of hope and pride, ferocity and purpose.
The characters are presented within the context of an apocalyptic scenario, where despite the technological advancements of modern civilization, people must trust and depend upon their own faculties and instincts for survival. Though Colla arms some of his figures with the brutal knives of their forefathers, the Oakland-based artist places the emphasis not on weaponry, but on physical and mental strength – attributes that are enhanced through the violent textures underneath the painted metal surfaces.
“Atavisms” will be on view at Ian Ross Gallery August 22 through September 18.