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Lyle Carbajal

Romancing Banality

Lyle Carbajal is an American born artist working in a style possessed of a primitive energy, as well as sophistication of detail that is incredibly diverse and unique. His work, which he calls Urban+Primitive, has been shown internationally and has been associated with the following organizations: London’s Raw Vision Magazine, The British Consulate in Los Angeles, The Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) in Seattle and the Tennessee Public Television for the Arts. He has also had work shown in a feature film and a long running television drama. He has exhibited at the Museu de Estremoz in Portugal, Art Chicago, The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, The Raw Arts Festival in London and La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles.

lyle carbajalWhile studying at the Art Institute of Seattle in the early 1990’s, and later on furthering his education in Nashville TN, he became interested in an array of related (and unrelated) subjects, which saw coursework in the fields of English, finance, law, negotiations as well as advertising and design. Shortly after receiving a degree in Nashville, he spent the following year volunteering full-time with a domestic Peace Corps program. While serving the southern United States he was exposed to as well as educated in southern regional culture, which would become the primer for much of his present work.

Lyle’s mixed and colorful career coupled with extensive travel, has seen him working as an art director in Buenos Aires and researcher in France and Mexico City. Earlier while participating as a professional member of the Tenncare Saves Lives Coalition, solving issues relating to Tennessee healthcare, he coordinated seminars with The Legal Aid Society to ensure free and accessible legal information to senior citizens. Lyle has also worked with Vanderbilt University as a Federation Specialist–helping to raise over $800,000 for the Nashville community, The Tennessee Senior Games, the Martin Luther King Memorial in Memphis, Tennessee and most recently, selected one of three creatives from Chicago and New York, to represent Artisan in ‘The Benefit that Gives Back”.

Past entrepreneurial ventures include a partnership in Ignite Media–a creative firm based in Nashville, TN. In 2010, he spent most of the year living in Buenos Aires, where finished his first book “Urban+Primitive: The Art of Lyle Carbajal”. He received excellent reviews the following year.

In 2012 Lyle was invited by the Latvian government to participate in the prestigious Mark Rothko Plein Air in Daugavpils, Latvia.

Lyle is currently shows in Nashville, France, and Seattle. He currently lives in Seattle while working on a second book.

Carbajal’s work may intimidate or even assault those accustomed to safe, clean, predictable environments…the viewer is embedded in that “far-away” place, which may be as near as the barrio next door – perhaps even our mind. – Joseph Roberts, Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA), Seattle

There’s nothing quite as beautiful as the unintentional. For this reason I’ve attempted through the use of color, reference, placement and most importantly line, to capture, if just a fraction of the naiveté I see in my daily surroundings. My bright colors and dark, brisk lines reflect moods of small children, brush-in-hand, being told to concentrate and stay within the lines, by those well intentioned grade school teachers who encouraged us all to produce masterpieces. Tucked into my own pictures are images associated with childhood: comics, monsters, machines, animals and faces. My interest in the face is evident in each painting, where the primary visages are wild-eyed and gripped with anger, terror, confusion or pain. Either way, the depictions of extreme emotive states delineate my paintings from those of a child. Both the innocent associations of youth and the horror of maturation are bluntly juxtaposed and seek not so much to find unity in the passage of life, but to expose its division.

Childhood memories and my Latin American background helped me search for a primitive expression of the world. Just like Debuffet, Twombly and Appel before me, my pursuit of “Brut” has lead me in both tangible and psychological directions, which I presume will continue indefinitely.

Although I lack a formal education in painting, a degree in design taught me to see shapes, colors, typography and distinct references. Life’s landscape, on the other hand, taught me about Mexican masks and muralism, functional graphics, vandalism, Haitian flags, folk signage, randomness and urbanism, all which find their way into my work. It is through this extensive knowledge of both popular and primitive cultures that help in the creation of my pictures.

Lyle Carbajal