Whitehot Magazine

Reconstructed Abstractions: A Dialogue with Carly Ivan Garcia


Artist Carly Ivan Garcia is experiencing a breakout moment with his energetic paintings.

Reconstructed Abstractions: A Dialogue with Carly Ivan Garcia

By Jake Simon, JAN. 2016

Carly Ivan Garcia paces around the living room, then posts up on a lounge chair and gets ready to spit fire. We are meeting to talk about the evolution of his art and the body of work about to be exhibited at Zener Shon Contemporary Art in Mill Valley, California from February 2nd to March 19th. He is crackling with excitement like a live wire, releasing sparks of insight about his work and motivation as a painter.

WM- You’re spotlighted in a two-person show going up this week with Benito Rangel de Maria at Zener Schon Contemporary Art entitled “Reconstructed Abstractions of the Urban Experience.” You have previously showed in Chelsea, Miami Basel, Rome, and many other locations both nationally and internationally. What does it mean to you to be exhibiting work in your home area? 

Carly Ivan Garcia- I grew up in the Bay Area where there is a ton of talented artists. It’s such an honor to be spotlighted in such a beautiful gallery. I couldn’t be more excited and grateful. I worked for six months, constantly around the clock for this show with the intention of putting my best work forward and letting people into my personal world. I’m very motivated right now and thankful to have the support around me that I have.   

WH- Talk a little bit about the body of work in this show. How would you describe it? 

Carly- What I wanted to create for this show was paintings that were colorful and playful yet still rooted in contemporary art. I wanted compositions and details that were geometrically abstract, pushing boundaries, and sometimes conveying a message while staying true to my own style of expression. Not every one of my paintings has a message, but some do. “Popcorn” and “Pharmacy Lego” touch on contemporary issues we face in society, and that’s part of the urban experience. But the urban experience is really what you make it. I’m not trying to dwell on the ills of the world; I feel like you have to face them, push through them to find the light. With this cohesive body of work I also wanted to let people into my world as an artist, my experiences and travels. I wanted to use all of the elements I have been drawing from for the last fifteen years and take them to a new level. Taking my triangles and my squares and turning them in 360s and swiveling them into extreme abstract art where you can see the paintings move while you stare at them.

WH- I’ve watched you paint; it’s action oriented, sometimes frenetic. Talk about the kinetic nature of your process and how that energy finds a place in your art?

Carly- I’ve always been a physical person. I find my best work comes out when I’m in the zone, almost like a boxer in the ring. Where I’m not really thinking of what I’m creating, I’m just creating. And to do that you really have to set your spirit free. Sometimes I work on like fifteen pieces at one time. I try to throw myself into it where I’m completely surrounded by my work, immersed in it to the point where I don’t even know what day it is. I’ll work day after day and just go into this altered state. I like to start a painting and just go at it until it’s done. 

Carly Ivan Garcia, “Daha Daha”, 48”x48”, Oil and SprayPaint on Canvas, 2015, courtesy Zener Schon Contemporary Art 

WH- How do you push yourself to evolve your art?

Carly- I know what works for me. I use allegories and symbols and negative space to produce dream like imagery. It’s how I create a visual language. I’ve worked on it and refined it throughout my career. So I try to take this dialect and push the conversation to new levels, new gears. I stay in my lane but I’m always accelerating, pushing the human element further.

WH- What inspires you to paint?

Carly- Growing up around tons of artists, visual poets, and writers. Art is a way of life for me. I feel like I was called to it.  I just love the New York art world. I love the San Francisco art world. I am super-passionate about all the great American artists. They inspire me. I’ve always aspired to be the very best that I can be wherever that landed me.

WH- Any last thoughts?

Carly- I’m blessed to find my passion and really grateful to have had the experiences I’ve had and connect with an amazing community of artists and collectors. I’m really looking forward to this upcoming show and exhibiting new work. WM




Jake Simon


Jake Simon is an artist and writer currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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