Part of the Art, Design & Architecture series
Co-Presented by KW|AG
Buyer beware: Purchase a canvas by the maverick Los Angeles painter Llyn Foulkes and he just might show up at your home/gallery/museum asking to make some changes. At least, that’s the impression given by “Llyn Foulkes: One Man Band,” an illuminating portrait of the artist as a hermetic, self-doubting, obsessive-compulsive perfectionist. Filmmakers can scarcely resist the story of a genius artist unjustly forgotten by time or sabotaged by his own personal demons. But Foulkes is more than deserving of the fuss, with co-directors Tamar Halpern and Chris Quilty doing a superb job of wrangling their wily, cantankerous subject as he struggles to complete two epic canvases many years in the making.
Foulkes’ unusual, three-dimensional paintings, with bits of fabric and other real objects affixed to their surfaces (one even includes the carcass of an actual cat), represent merely the latest incarnation of the artist’s varied body of work. Beginning with a series of desert-themed rock paintings that made him a cause celebre of the ’60s SoCal art scene, Foulkes has made subsequent forays into collage art and Dali-esque surrealism. Then there is his parallel career as a singer-songwriter, whose signature instrument may also be his crowning artistic achievement: a room-sized, homemade conflagration of drums, bells and bicycle horns known simply as “the machine.” For a stretch in the 1970s, “One Man Band” argues, Foulkes was better known for his music than his paintings.
Throughout, “One Man Band” resounds with a sense of art making as a profoundly solitary, intensely physical endeavor, and of Foulkes himself as the ultimate work-in-progress.