His paintings reflect the increasing “control society” that we find ourselves in. By placing his turbulent subjects in an Op Art context, the familiar repeating patterns that were used to engage the eye in the 60’s, are now being deployed to act as a type of “code” permeating and invading the body/subject. Bower wants to “have the viewer feel the instability his subjects reflect”, by playing on the non-fixed features of the face and the hallucinatory effects of the Op Art, so as to engage the viewer and perhaps awaken them from a techno-slumber.
Bower’s work has been shown at galleries, museums, and international art fairs including: Patrick Painter Gallery in Los Angeles (2015); Melissa Morgan Fine Art in Palm Desert, CA (2016 & 2017); Kellogg University Art Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona, CA (2017); Galerie Ernst Hilger in Vienna, Austria (2015); Art15 London (2015); Art Miami New York (2015); Stage Singapore (2015); Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco (2014); Start Art Fair at Saatchi Gallery in London (2014); Silicon Valley Contemporary (2014); The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair (2014 & 2015); Zona Maco Mexico (2014); The LA Art Show (2014, 2015 & 2016); Art Miami (2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016); Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles (2013 and 2010); Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair (2011 and 2013); Los Angeles Art Platform (2011); Art Aspen (2013 & 2014); and Art Southampton (2013, 2014 & 2015).
The artist has won and been nominated for several grants and awards, among them The Feitelson Fellowship Grant (2010) and The Joan Mitchell award (2010).
Notable collections include:
The Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles The Waterfall Mansion, New York Bill and Lynn Power Collection, New York (includes Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Jim Dine) Stuart Holt Collection, London (includes Keith Haring, Banksy, Oscar Murillo, and Os Gemeos) Wendy Asher Collection, Malibu (includes Warhol, Damien Hirst, Nara, Banksy, Rauschenberg, and Basquiat) Tim Redman Collection, London (includes Os Gemeos, Bickerton, Mutu, Marilyn Minter, and Jose Parla) Greg Conn Collection, London Eugenio Lopez Alonso Collection, Mexico City Ben Bourgeois Collection, Los Angeles Carlos Slim Collection, Mexico City University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson
“His latest exhibition “The Humiliations” is on view at UNIX Gallery through October 17. In this candid interview, the Los Angeles-based Bowen describes the violent way his career began—buckle up, it’s a long and entertaining story—and what types of humiliations we face as a species, and how he captures them in paint.” Read the full interview: ArtNet Asks: Artist Justin Bower Got Stabbed, Went to Grad School
This month’s issue of American Art Collector Magazine has a 4-page, full-color spread of Bower’s work and an article by John O’Hern.
Bower painting “Internal Dialectic” included in collection alongside Warhol, Picasso, Richter, and Dubuffet at the Waterfall Mansion on the Upper East Side of NYC. Read the article: Inson Wood at the Waterfall Mansion
April 2014 Check out this month’s issue (Volume 31) of Hi-Fructose Magazine, on shelves now (pages 26-29), for an article entitled “The Paintings of Justin Bower” by Tracy Jones
Blisss Magazine Cover and Interview by Liz McCray (page 70)
Caras Mexico Magazine (page 106)
January 30, 2014
January 2014 Issue (Pages 62 and 66)
January 17, 2014 Hi-Fructose Art Magazine: Exclusive Interview with Justin Bower by Nastia Voynovskaya
November 21, 2013
November 14, 2013
“Yes, this show is beyond incredible. I spotted this first piece upon leaving the KAWS show in Chelsea at Mary Boone Gallery. I looked in the window across the street at Unix Gallery, 532 W 24th, and this is what I saw! Completely blown away, I headed in and had a quick chat with the gallery owner…”
Read the full article: Panic at the Gallery! Justin Bower Mesmerizes at Unix Gallery by Art and Fashion Salon
November 11, 2013
“Bower’s paintings absorb us into their surface. They suck us up with their lush color and beautifully violent paint marks and then push us away as we take in their repulsive implications. Throwing us outward, they sedate us to their violence and foreboding warnings. We stand mesmerized, seduced, and entranced by Bower’s gorgeous surfaces and marks, slowly forgetting our flesh and our transgressions against ourselves.”
Read the full article: The Many Faces of Justin Bower by Jocelyn Grau
November 7, 2013
Check out the back inside cover of this month’s Artillery Magazine!
September 10, 2013
“The show is ostensibly called Panic Room. This show is about the destabilization of the human subject. ‘If the subject is not in threat of vanishing, then it is not truly understood’.”
Read the full article: Justin Bower Presents the Panic Room by Mark Murphy
September 9, 2013
Check out this month’s issue of The Art Newspaper. This photo of Bower’s full-page ad for his upcoming show at Unix Gallery in NYC was sent to us by a loyal collector in the UK.
September 8, 2013
Bower’s upcoming solo exhibition “Panic Room”, opening at Unix Gallery in NYC on October 24, 2013 is featured in Modern Painter’s list of the “100 Best Fall Shows” (Sept. 2013 issue).
July 10, 2013
50 California Artists You Should Know (Justin Bower is #1 on the list)
January 14, 2013
“In many ways, Bower, 37, is a bit of an unlikely figure. He has an abiding interest in philosophy and the effects of technology, but he is no reclusive techno-nerd. He is a ruggedly handsome former college football player, who is as thoughtful as he is soft-spoken. Occasionally, he likes to sip a good scotch….A couple of rackety tables support an explosion of oil paints in every imaginable shade. Palettes covered in blobs of green, lavender, and aquamarine clog every surface. And, staring from a seven-foot canvas is a massive human face, slowly unraveling into a grid of trembling lines and glitchy patterns…”
Read the full article: KCET, “Beneath the Skin: The Paintings of Justin Bower” by Carolina A. Miranda
October 10, 2011 “Most of the booths at the fair had small works. Not Ace…Bower’s work had an especially poignant synthesis with the cyber veneer of the fair, every dealer toting an iPad, every collector checking his or her smartphone. Bower’s portraits of reserved expressionism ripping apart a fleshy exterior face were perfect amidst the scene; they were stunning in scale and impact as well.”
Read the full article: HuffPost Arts & Culture, “ArtPlatform Top 10 Artists” by Mat Gleason
January 20, 2011
Scale is critical to Justin Bower’s paintings. With roots in the painterly Abstract Expressionism of Willem de Kooning; superficial resemblance to the monstrous photographic self-portraits of Douglas Gordon, his head wrapped in cellophane tape; plus, traces of the electronic color of Ed Paschke’s brand of Chicago Imagism and more, Bower’s large canvases of isolated heads claim diverse parentage.
Eight large and four smaller paintings at Ace show that, in this instance, bigger really is better. The smaller works get stuck in the instant-impact of one-dimensional graphic design. But at 8 by 7 feet, the big paintings draw you close into their orbit, where the sensuous speed of Bower’s brush possesses the lacerating quality of a surgeon’s scalpel.
By turns pulling apart and coalescing, they turn into whiplash-worlds of aggravation, fury and fragmentation. These heads hurt.
Like Cubism, which is this work’s ultimate ancestor, the paintings haven’t quite resolved the negative space between the depicted head and the physical canvas-edge. Bower tries several remedies, including somewhat awkward scaffolding and linear armatures that connect one to the other. The most convincing comes in works such as “Feedback Loop I,” in which the head’s acid-green contour trails into view, suggesting the tenuous fragility of attachment and disconnection.
December 28, 2010
Artillery Magazine, “Embedded”, Justin Bower at Ace Gallery Beverly Hills, by James Scarborough
Not only is “Embedded,” Justin Bower’s show at Ace Gallery, Beverly Hills, captivating because it’s so visceral, it also makes a compelling argument that portraiture is problematic because, as he suggests, there is no subject matter. Once you sort through the exhibition’s flayed and decomposed heads, you appreciate the gravity, if not the humorous irony, that the work elicits. The message is not eschatological like Gauguin’s “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” No, it’s more existential, more Sisyphean, namely, what if artists really could burrow down to the core of the human psyche, in order to capture a sitter’s essence, and found that there was nothing there?
Your first impression of the twelve larger than life sized works is that the heads have just been exhumed for forensic examination. Like Francis Bacon’s “Portrait of Pope Innocent X,” skulls vibrate in furious motion, so fast that paired eyes appear in two places at once, as if in mid-teleport. Epidermises are brutalized: eyes gouged out, cheeks slashed, lips shorn off to reveal rows of teeth, giving each portrait the appearance (and the wicked humor) of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Bower builds up the faces with energetic swaths of paint, brutally efficient. Sometimes a few swipes suffice, sometimes the surface is built up, as if it’s made of gauze except, it’s not gauze, it’s flagellated skin. These portraits make your blood chill at the same time they make you grateful that you still have blood.
The colors are strident and sepulchral, unworldly. Tone-wise the work resembles a cross between Luis Buñel/Salvador Dali in “Un chien andalou” and early Walt Disney. The backgrounds are decorative: pink flowers, black with a light blue schematic, red and pink with a blue schematic, red with sharp gray wedges, muted light bursts in a foggy gray mist, and various tones of planks. Each lie in stark and placid contrasts to the activity in front them and could easily stand in as funeral shrouds, with the planks as the components of a coffin. A couple of the heads are outlined with a luminescent green, which suggests the x-ray of a postmortem. The gallery’s antiseptic, sterile atmosphere and orderly rectangular shapes of the frames oppose the organic decomposition of the images contained therein, as if you’re looking down into a coffin that rests in a mortuary decorated by Richard Meier.
Bower crams these heads up against the picture plane. Being so close with these heads, it’s easy to get lulled into the Freddie Krueger rhythms of their compositions. Despite the subject matter, we’re utterly fascinated. Without batting a lash (they have none), these macabre faces taunt us, still grinning after their ordeal, grinning after layers of painted skin and hair and whatever else peels off, like the skin of a boiled tomato.
Over time, though, you notice that the frenetic surface activity masks the voids contained within the remnants of the skull. Up until now, you’re thinking these pieces resemble Claude Rains in “The Phantom of the Opera.” The, noticing that there’s nothing inside the heads, you decide it’s Claude Rains, all right, but Claude Rains as “The Invisible Man,” That’s when it hits you – that sinister grin is not laughing in spite of what must be excruciating pain, it’s laughing because, quite literally, it has the last laugh. The joke’s on us. All those strokes gashes, slashes, dashes build up a structure (the heads) contain a void. There’s nothing there. Bower has cannibalized abstraction, figuration, abstract expressionism, and surrealism to show how neither style nor genre (i.e., portraiture) can penetrate to the core of what makes us human. It’s not science, psychoanalysis, it’s not anything; all such efforts are futile because seekers quest after chimera.
Bower does not analyze personality for insight or expression, he dissects it, showing that painterly excavation will yield, not the riches of Tutankhamen but, rather, an empty chamber. What’s left? Shards of surface. All this attention Bowers pays to surfaces isn’t an indictment of culture. It suggests, rather, that we literally have nothing to hide. As a viewing audience we looking for meaning, insight into, and commentary of the human condition in everyplace except where it really matters, in our own soul which, as these paintings admirably and insightfully show, can’t be described, at least in paint, much less in words. Bower seems to dare us to try to “get him,” to look at these images and determine whether it’s worth the effort, whether self-expression is the proper aim of art. In “Embedded,” a John Donne bells tolls and it tolls for us. Thanks, dude, for the reminder.