Neil Callander is an artist and an educator. Born in Louisville KY, Neil earned a BFA from Indiana University (2003) and an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (2006). In 2005 he received a full fellowship to be a resident at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. After graduate school Neil worked as a painter for the artist Jeff Koons in his New York studio.
In 2007 Neil and family left New York City to pursue careers as artists and academics. This decision has offered a tour of the South with time spent in Louisville KY, Starkville MS and Tuscaloosa AL. Neil and his wife Adrienne are currently Assistant Professors of Art at the University of Arkansas and live in a household of makers and dogs on three acres in Fayetteville AR.
Neil has exhibited widely including solo exhibitions at Goose Barnacle (Brooklyn NY), Bowling Green State University (OH) and The Kentucky School of Art (Louisville). Group exhibitions include MANIFEST Gallery and Drawing Center (Cincinnati OH), The Huntsville Museum of Art (AL), The Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson), and The New Gallery of Modern Art (Charlotte NC), First Street Gallery (NYC), Washington Art Association (CT) among many others. He has presented on his work and practice at institutes of higher learning including Boston University, UMass Dartmouth, Arkansas State University and the University of Mississippi. He is a member of ZEUXIS (an association of still life painters based in NYC).
Upcoming creative endeavors include inclusion in the International Painting Annual 9 (to be published Spring 2020) and participation in Art Week (July 2020) at the fabled family home of painter Fairfield Porter on Great Spruce Head Island in Maine.
What can Painting accomplish more readily than other art forms? I choose to lean into what Painting does well:
1. Materiality of a handmade object
2. Ambiguity arising from an absence of language
3. A compression of time into a static image
I construct elaborate setups and paint them through careful observation, focusing on the meanings objects collect post-consumption as they enter and participate in our lives. I sidestep Pop Art's ironic vision, and instead borrow stylistically from Flemish Golden Age painters to comment on material abundance in American culture. Of particular influence is the master of the crowded market stall, Frans Snyders, who mixed symbols of life and death, while embracing nasty moments as part of a delightful whole.
All my paintings take a long time to make. Even the small, simple ones have dozens of failed sibling-paintings propping them up. The effort of my labor doesn’t matter but that the paintings feel like two-dimensional time capsules does. Some compositions grow denser, tighter, and more intricate over time – like the tangle of a garden in late summer. The abstract paintings empty-out imagery for a more direct attempt at harmonies of color and mark.
Embedded in an encounter with a painting should be a reminder of the joy of life and inevitability of death.