When California painter Joseph Todorovitch first started drawing and painting, he was creating multiple figures in elaborate scenes. Worried he was biting off more than he could chew, he dialed back to single figures, a choice he now realizes was very wise.
“My multiple figure pieces were more illustrative and conceptual. I slowly recognized the difficulty of what I was doing, so I started to only paint single figures…so that I could do them convincingly with all the wonder of nature,” he says. “I’m bringing those more complex arrangements back now that I understand the fundamentals better. I’m also really challenging myself with the mechanics, including dynamic pieces that have more anatomical nuance.”
The Pomona, California, artist and teacher specifically calls out to some of his work with ballerinas and dancers, including Mariposa and Swan, pieces that are examples of an idea Todorovitch refers to as the “gesture of the pose.”
“I’ve always been very sensitive to the spirit of the pose. I want my paintings to capture that eloquently, whether or not it’s an active pose or a passive pose,” he says. “There’s an undercurrent of beautiful and graceful gestures that can be found in humanity. That is what I’m painting.”
He is especially drawn to eyes, which unlock a whole new world of narrative and ideas, even before the piece is finished. “Eyes are universal. As soon as there is a pair of eyes in a painting, we connect as humans. There’s so many opportunities to present a story there. To look into the subject’s eyes is to see so much,” he explains. “We’re always trying to abstract our surroundings, even looking at people and presuming to know what they’re thinking. To convey psychology with paint is very special to me. I want to get in close and interpret that.”
In Lateef, Todorovitch paints a friend, his arms raised to his head and his face largely in profile. In Refresh, his model exists in
a world that seems mostly incomplete, her head fixed into an abstract space that accentuates her features and turned glance. These figures offer a silent mystery, which is an aspect Todorovitch tries to paint in most of his works.
His new solo show at Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Culver City, California, is titled Offerings, and it leads right into these mysteries.
“It’s me reaching out and showing you how all this comes together. It’s an offering of my view,” he says, adding that viewers are encouraged to have their own view, as well. “I want to leave a lot of myself out of it. Other than my hands creating the paintings, there is no common theme except the one the viewer chooses. I hope the viewer sees something there for themselves.”