Roy Dowell uses elements of contemporary commercial culture and the history of early 20th century painting to create explosive and vital abstract collages and paintings. His bright colors and jocular shapes appear to bounce or wash over his paintings’ surfaces, connoting modern spaces and images as well as archaic sign systems or forms of magic. Dowell studied at the famed California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and is founder of Otis College of Art and Design’s Graduate School of Fine Arts, where he has taught since 1979.
In works such as his 2013 abstract acrylic painting on linen Untitled #1029, Dowell manipulates the figure-ground relationship with the careful layering of bright and dull colors. His marks, even those that seem casual and gestural, are, on close inspection, carefully determined. The image here alludes to both figural imagery and the space of a domestic interior, with advertising-like graphics that call to mind narratives about living and working conditions in contemporary America.
Dowell has had exhibitions at the Tang Museum, the Aspen Art Museum, the Palmer Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He is also the recipient of a J. Paul Getty Fellowship in the Visual Arts.