Huge depictions of Hollywood stars on walls of houses and highways of LA
Assertion of bright eyed human individuality amid modern urban wreckage
Vandalized or destroyed, but repainted; a court suit won
Kent Twitchell’s vast depictions of actors’ and friends’ faces and figures on the bare walls of Los Angeles buildings take as long as nine years (in one case) to carry out with the help of volunteers, and their effect is stunning. They boldly trumpet the spirit of human individuality by placing idealized giants amid the detritus and destruction of the petty commerce and car riven culture that has grown willy nilly over the sun laden landscape of Southern California and the City of Angels.
Molly Barnes the Los Angeles based gallery owner, art appreciator and all round modern reincarnation of Peggy Guggenheim presented Kent at her intermittent ongoing personal salon for art world insiders at the Roger Smith Hotel yesterday (Nov 7 Thu 2013), where the artist showed off and talked about slides of his striking accomplishments.His extraordinary images are not the work of a supersized ego, as perhaps one might expect, but of a man who has the internal humility of a genuine artist surviving among the helium balloon personae of Hollywood megacelebrities to depict his friends among them in enormous size outdoors, which has the curious effect of focusing one’s gaze on their – and our – vulnerable human spirits otherwise so magnified in the media to a dazzling size by the glamor industry.
It is art’s triumph over commercial artifice, ironically using the same dimensions as the billboards of the movie industry.
“I was just a pair of brown shoes amid tuxedos” says Kent of his own overly modest feelings when he found himself at a gathering of other celebrated artists. And of a moment when he played with toys on the floor with one of his famous subjects and heroes, he says, “we acted like children. (Pause) Of course, all artists are children!”
His unspoiled spirit was born with his feet on the ground of the mid-West, which may be why the faces he chooses to depict have the rugged handsomeness of that part of the country, adding to cultural myth.
On an artistic level his portraits are so good looking and connect so well with the viewer that it is astonishing that passing barbarians occasionally deface them with competing wall graphics, otherwise known as graffiti, and even more disgusting that real estate developers have erased them, at least until in one case the extreme vulgarian was sued and lost $1.1 million over his outrage.
As Mark Twain once observed, it takes education to reduce the free floating resentful aggression of those without understanding. “Learning softeneth the heart and breedeth gentleness and charity” (The Prince and the Pauper).