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Monday, April 23, 2012

Breen and Inguito's Large-Scale Paintings Are Garish, Strange, Intense -- and Really Accessible

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM

American Boys and Girls - KELLEN BREEN
  • Kellen Breen
  • American Boys and Girls

Get past the miscellany of dogs and beer, and you'll find a surprisingly refreshing art gallery in the back of Place Pigalle, Hayes Valley's no-frills culture destination.

The exhibition "Paintings by Kellen Breen and Scott Inguito" opened Saturday night to a familiar crowd that was more mainstream than art geek, less tech and more street -- a rare blend of normalcy that was surprisingly more interested in the artwork than being seen. The large-scale oil paintings -- some measure five feet across -- are impressive and thought-provoking without being overwhelming. Breen and Inguito, who share a studio in the Mission, clearly work well together in close quarters, and their work exhibits harmoniously side by side. Where Breen's paintings are visually stimulating and complex, Inguito's focus and nuanced study on the El Camino -- the car, not the road -- is sublime.

The Boob Painting - KELLEN BREEN
  • Kellen Breen
  • The Boob Painting

Look closer at any of Breen's paintings and they start messing with your mind. Boobs that charge iPods, a Wu-Tang Clan lovin' E.T. character, tattoo guns, and a Segway-riding farmer all make appearances in his work. Deemed by Breen himself as "getting stoned imagery," the scenes are simultaneously fantastical and true to life. Breen says the details are inspired by real events, like the time his college roommate tried to kill a rat by hitting it with a frying pan (while actually frying an egg), as seen in American Boys and Girls, an ironic representation of college students.

Sacred things: One of Scott Inguito's El Camino paintings (left) seems at home alongside a Kellen Breen depiction of Jesus.
  • Sacred things: One of Scott Inguito's El Camino paintings (left) seems at home alongside a Kellen Breen depiction of Jesus.

Breen unexpectedly fell in love with painting after taking a course his final year at Chico State. His imagery makes art accessible to people that otherwise may not be into it. Breen says all his crazy characters initially come from some random memory that pops into his head and sticks like a song that won't leave, yet he keeps them because he wants viewers to make their own individual interpretations. Everything means something specific to him, but he's open to all of us taking it in through our own perspectives.

Three El Caminos (Orange Launch) and Two El Caminos (Blue Launch) - SCOTT INGUITOS
  • Scott Inguitos
  • Three El Caminos (Orange Launch) and Two El Caminos (Blue Launch)

The Chevy El Camino is a king of low rider culture. In Three El Caminos (Orange Launch) and Two El Caminos (Blue Launch), Inguito's ghostly renderings of this vehicle evoke a delicate atmosphere of a hard subculture. His use of color and light create a photographic imagery that plays on memories of the not so distant past and present (at least in the Mission) of hydraulics and pearl flake. Inguito writes "The El Camino is the mullet of the car world. ... They are landscapes. They are posters. They are muscled. They are shells. They are film, skin. Ultimately they have no engine but the engine of desire."

Yellow El Camino Burnout - SCOTT INGUITO
  • Scott Inguito
  • Yellow El Camino Burnout

An oasis of lowbrow meets highbrow in the center of an otherwise rather bland neighborhood, this exhibition is worth seeing. Check it out on your way to brunch or coffee for a laid back refresher course in culture.

"Paintings by Kellen Breen and Scott Inguito" continues through May 20 at Place Pigalle, 520 Hayes (at Octavia), S.F.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Stephanie Echeveste

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