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.
Narrative is an innate and inescapable fact in a painting. The viewer will always manifest some sort of narrative meaning, and since the viewer is who brings absolution to a painting I fully support their multitudinous interpretations. My intentions are to lean into what Painting does well and trust the ambiguity of meaning that arises.
Cinema is the king of narrative. Photography is a much more efficient form of documentation. Music is superior at catharsis. Television and the Internet own propaganda. That leaves painting the domains of materiality and ambiguity. I pack a painting with cultural and personal references and work toward an image that is provocative yet narratively flexible. As more is added the compositions grow denser, tighter, and more intricate over time – like the tangle of a garden in late summer. The act of viewing my paintings is an unlocking of these internal relationships. Experiencing dense paintings that slowly reveal their nature can help us contend with the pervasiveness of fast-talking, slick images. In a media-riddled world, painting is a stabilizing force.
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.
I treat my paintings as objects as well as vehicles for information. The edges of the canvas inform my compositions, reinforcing the flatness of the picture plane. I want the viewer to feel the reality of the surface through the pressure of the edges while also engaged in a tangible painterly space. The abstract paintings empty-out imagery for a more direct attempt at harmonies of color and mark. The flatness of the surface is about the present tense. The illusion of depth implies both the future and past.