doug reina makes nice paintings. but, you know, it’s the nice ones you gotta watch out for. at first glance, you might see something familiar, common even. but then you keep looking and you realize there’s a lot more to it. the artist paints to amuse himself but “what was exciting [about the broken figures] was what didn’t match up.” and he’s not worried about faking it, “i know what to do by now.”
a good amount of skill and precision has been exercised to capture sophisticated landscapes and portraits over the years. “i love going outside on an interesting day and finding a place no one has found before, but i want to be awesome.” reina’s trajectory is one that is carrying him from traditional realism to exploration and his current waypoint is at the intersection of narration and abstraction.
“i’m still using the landscape, but i’m allowing my own creative ideas to mix with it.” which is why perhaps, those very familiar images of people and places, like snapshots they remind you of, fade as you focus on them.
reina is working with pulls to establish the paint; an amalgam of gesso, acrylic and elmer’s glue are spread onto the paper, then he uses self-made tools to drag it all across the plane. he avoids abolishing any waviness or incorrigible qualities, instead celebrating the bumpy resistance. the son of an abstract sculptor and a student of nature is compositing strange elements—like things he’s afraid of, “to get awesome: data in, data out. i have to keep my eyes open and try to keep fresh. i have to be gutsy. i have to paint things that i want to see.”
why? because he loves the subjects he chooses and wants to honor them. but also because “exploration is a gift. it’s a marriage of being in the right place at the right time. not thinking too far forward or too far back.
“i always think everything i do is a self-portrait. it has a loneliness in it, sexiness, or whatever…” in truth he’s still looking for “his thing.” but in the meantime, he’s doing something interesting by harmonizing orthodoxy with experimentation. and while smaller, fun, crafty works make their appearances as a means of quick diversions, there is a deeper, meatier storm at brew.
Doug’s work can be seen in the upcoming show CHARLES REINA / DOUG REINA “REDO REINA x 2” at 9 East Contemporary Art, Huntington, August 23rd—September 22nd.