The first exhibition in London of work by Trate, the Canadian figurative artist, opens tomorrow. Emotive Brutes is comprised of a suite of large-scale works in oil, all executed between 2017 and 2018. The paintings display Trate’s haunting, childlike aesthetic, chronicling the human condition through traceable brush strokes and reimagined facial traits, layered over distinctive colour patterns.
As with most of Trate’s earlier paintings, the arresting canvases in Emotive Brutes capture the complexity of the human experience in evocative, lucidly aware faces and deformed upper bodies. The artist makes no preparatory drawings and largely eschews non-personal source material, preferring to stand before the canvas and paint intuitively, capturing human sensibilities in deceptively simple, subconsciously sourced forms. For him, the act of painting is an act of reflection; meaning is discovered only upon completion of a canvas.
Disquiet, for example, depicts a stoic, composed figure, whose unwavering gaze alludes to an unsettling, internal violence. Tension is created within the work by the overlay of intense, glaring red pupils onto the cool blue contours of the facial features.
While this work is suggestive of internal human struggle and of the complexity of inward and outward reactions to adversity, many of the other paintings are lighter in tone, exemplifying Trate’s raw, autodidact aesthetic and vivid colour palette.
Of this, Self-Possession is emblematic. As with most of Trate’s work, the painting reveals only the head and upper torso. With asymmetrical almond-shaped violet eyes, serene lips and misshaped cheekbones, the gender-fluid subject projects the idle mischievousness of a child. And yet, there is something equally all-knowing and vulnerable in the figure’s eyes, creating a sense of enigma and unease in equal measure.
Says Stephanie Silva, art director of Trate Studios: ‘In this compelling body of work, Trate explores the tensions between shared human experience and the complexity of individuality. At times dark and poignant, at others light and whimsical, the paintings explore the bounds of emotive states — from loss to unadulterated love, from belonging to abject neglect.’
Emotive Brutes runs from 7 February – 2 March at Trate Studios. For further information, visit the studio’s website here.