By Dave Fountinelle | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’m not sure I want an agent, you know?” Kyle Edwards begins, taking a seat next to a paint-splotched table, cluttered with assorted tubes of acrylic paint and a bucket of pallet knives. The Clash is playing softly on a Bluetooth speaker, the sounds of traffic filtering into his second-floor studio from an open window, like smoke from someone’s cigarette on the sidewalk below. “It’s not something I’ve ever wanted really, necessarily. Because, you know, they take a chunk. And the galleries, they take a pretty big chunk too.”
“How big of a chunk do the galleries take?” I ask.
“They usually start at around 30% and go up from there. That’s pretty standard for the places I’ve shown at down in the LA area anyway.”
Kyle has just returned from showing some of his paintings at a gallery in Santa Monica. Trips like these are becoming more and more common for the Central Valley artist. On this most recent venture, he met someone who took a great interest in his work and has offered to be his agent.
“She has a lot of money, somehow.” He explains, “But I mean if it’s legit, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea. I’ll take whatever help I can get.”
Kyle Edwards grew up in Riverdale and graduated Riverdale High in 1992. Even back then, art was a big part of his life, along with horror movies, basketball, and good music. He’s showing me a short series of paintings featuring different members of the LA Lakers. One of them features a rendition of James Worthy dunking over Larry Bird. Another shows Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an iconic dunk pose. On the wall behind him hangs an image of Woody Harrelson as Mickey Knox from the film “Natural Born Killers.” Kyle’s interests are the inspiration for most of the paintings that decorate the walls and rest in stacks against the walls of his studio. His style is truly original, even though most of his paintings are renditions of iconic images – From the picture of Kareem’s dunk to Jimi Hendrix playing his Stratocaster, to Christian Bale’s blood-spattered face and maniacal laugh from “American Psycho.” You’ve seen these pictures dozens of times, but never quite like this.
His strokes are dark, heavy. He uses pallet knives, not brushes, so the paint is thick, the colors explosive and vibrant, the images themselves distorted and abstract, like they’re being viewed through a kaleidoscope. Kyle’s pop culture paintings are slightly twisted and striking interpretations, and they’re finding their way into some pretty impressive places.
Recently, on his Instagram page, Kyle shared a pic from the Joe Rogan Podcast’s page. In it, Joe is posing for the camera, while a painting of Robert De Niro as “The Taxi Driver” hangs on the wall over his left shoulder. The painting, of a mohawked De Niro, staring at the camera, in bright red, yellow, and orange on black, is one of Kyle’s old favorites. It’s a painting he had been trying to sell for a while before getting the idea of gifting it to Rogan.
“I’m a big Joe Rogan fan,” he tells me. “So, when he came to Fresno, I had tickets to see him, and I thought he’s an east coast guy, big ‘Taxi Driver’ fan, I’ll just give it to him. Who knows, maybe he’ll like it and give me a shout out? I headed over there a few hours before the show and talked to the head of security, and she was cool. So, I left it in his dressing room with a note and hoped for the best.”
After a few weeks of waiting and not knowing if Joe had ever even seen the painting, Kyle was pleasantly surprised to see it hanging on the wall of Rogan’s studio in one of his IG pics.
“I never got a shout out on his podcast,” Kyle said, “But obviously he got it, and it’s hanging up in his studio, and that’s pretty unbelievable.”
Kyle also recently gifted another of his paintings to a very well-known celebrity, Josh Brolin. When Kyle found out that Brolin was a big fan of Sam Shepard, he sent him a watercolor painting he had done of the late actor and playwright. Kyle was able to contact Brolin’s wife a few weeks later, who thanked him for the art and informed him that it’s on display in their home and that she and Josh both love it.
Lately, Kyle has moved away from pop culture celebrity portraits and has been venturing into more abstract ideas. He painted a large series of surreal faces, and also showed me a sketch of a new idea he’s been working on, something that’s a huge departure from everything else he’s done.
That doesn’t mean he’s done with famous portraits for good, Kyle has a never say never attitude when it comes to potential subjects for his next painting.
Except, “Landscapes and family portraits, man. That’s why I don’t really do commissions.” Kyle tells me. “Everyone around here, they all want the same thing, ‘Can you do a landscape of my farm? Can you do a portrait of my horses? Can you do a portrait of my family?’ I mean, yeah, I could, but I mean, no. No, I don’t want to do a portrait of your damn cows.” Then he laughs, “But hey, that’s the Central Valley for ya.”
If you would like to check out Kyle Edwards’ paintings, he’s on Instagram @edsart44, and also has a Facebook page, Ed’s Art. All of his paintings are available for sale, but please, no landscape or livestock portrait commission requests.