Roland Kulla is one of fourteen artists to be included in "red" the upcoming National Juried Exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Kulla in his painting studio. His newly constructed light-filled space is stacked with new works-in-progress for an upcoming solo exhibition. But he took some time to have a cup of coffee and talk with me about his work.
A prolific and somewhat obsessive artist, Kulla has been painting bridge imagery since 2000. He began by taking a closer look at the bridges of Chicago and then moved on to imagery based on the structures in Boston, New York and Pittsburgh. The Chicago bridge series, titled "Constructs", focused on tightly cropped design elements, which forced the viewer to explore the individual components of the massive structures. As Kulla explains... "What may appear to be random patterns of bolts and rivets, have a rigidly patterned logic. Stripped of their context, the bridges take on new aspects."
"Meridian"—presenting a similar perspective to the Chicago series—was created while exploring the Boston structures. This was Kulla's first venture into painting bridges outside of the Chicago area. This body of work titled "Elemental Boston", continued to focus on a tightly cropped segment of the structure but now Kulla began to explore basic geometric shapes and a primary palette. Kulla explains...
"I focus on primary elements. At the most obvious level, the images capture a part of a much larger whole. Basic geometric shapes – circles, triangles, squares – are combined in a myriad of configurations. Red, yellow and blue—the primary colors—are featured. Each subject required no more than five or six colors to create very complex images. The play of light and dark, the contrast of surface and void are also key aspects of the work."
Kulla's "Meridian" can be seen—along with the works of thirteen other artists from around the country—at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago from September 14 through November 11. The Reception for "red" will take place on Friday, October 9th from 5:30-7:30. Gallery 180 is located at the corner of Lake and Wabash in Chicago's Loop. The exhibition is free to the public and all works will be available for purchase. Additional work by Roland Kulla can be found at RolandKulla.com. Kulla's work is currently represented in New York at the George Billis Gallery, and in Pittsburgh at the James Gallery.
Image: Roland Kulla, "Meridian" acrylic on canvas, 36x60", $8,500