Charming, Playful and Humorous Works Fill Empire Seven Studios

By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

From mural-sized to miniature, Kyle Pellet’s works engulf the viewer

I really love Pellet’s show.  I didn’t know a thing about this youthful San Jose artist, when I first received the show announcement, but the reproduction of a figure with a black face and dots flying around it really looked promising so I got to the gallery as soon as I could.  Wow! Even the view of the murals seen from Seventh Street through the open roll-up utility doors shouted “Come on in, this is going to be good!”  And it is.  A big mural of Pellet’s signature multicolor flying spots runs around several walls and along one, it reads PELLET’S SHOW in big letters.  In contrast, lots and lots of small works on paper are arranged in elongated diamond configurations on three more walls.

Pellet defies the odds that the viewer will want to look at everything.

In an Internet interview on PICDIT, Pellet says he produces about 300 works a year and acknowledges that he buys all his frames from thrift stores.  His diminutive drawings and paintings on miscellaneous papers, in a variety of small frames, are presented in the popular youthful salon style that, for many artists, can be a busy assault of both the good and the bad.  Not so for Pellet, however.   His wall montage is an intense experience of quirky narratives, semi-abstract pattern paintings, weird little marvels and hilarious characters that will make you laugh out loud, and they all seem worth looking at.  There is so much going on in each one, even those that at first seem simple, that a viewer probably cannot absorb everything in one trip to the gallery.  Visual overload.  So make a second trip to see it all!

A lot of entertaining approaches with mostly untitled works.

How do comical and cartoony little images transcend the one-liner and the superficial stereotypes of the genre?  It takes a talented and innovative artist with a great wit and commitment to something that is inside, itching to get out.  Not only is Pellet clearly an energetic talent, he has several repeating directions going on at once, different formal approaches and motifs that overlap.  He uses a lot of color and still, often, he leaves a lot of white space. Some little paintings are solitary figures that exploit his wide-spaced dotty-eye-figures, with perhaps carrots for eyebrows or a corncob for a mouth.  Sometimes they are part insect or are composites of any number of inanimate objects.  When he indulges in major scenarios, the landscapes are fanciful in and of themselves, with unlikely colors.  Swarms of crazy other-world and hybrid creatures may be involved in battles and survival dramas. Sometimes he paints a simple rogues’ gallery of character portraits from a selected cast.  Sometimes the actors are simply his dots and buzzing little abstract shapes.

Why did everyone love this work so much?

Pellet’s work with gouache and small brushes is in a world somewhere between painting, illustration and outright cartoons.  It is youthful, full of humor and totally original, not borrowing from animé.  It is urban but not urban alienation.  Pellet calls himself a self-taught painter, yet he does have a degree form San Jose State University in film and frequently reveals his love of narrative.  An educated eye and a certain innate sophistication are seen in this oeuvre, as well!

Don’t miss this show.  Check with Empire Seven Studios for a closing event:

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