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Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2685 S La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 | T 310 838 6000

Britton Tolliver


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<I>Night Goat</I>

Night Goat, 2017

Acrylic and mixed media on panel

70 X 47 IN


Born 1976, Kingsport, TN
Lives and works in Los Angeles

Britton Tolliver makes paintings that draw from the full range of abstraction's possibilities, fusing diverse positions and processes in hard-fought, deeply considered compositions.  He has long been interested in the grid as a visual and a conceptual structuring device, using it to accentuate the extremes of order and freedom that provide the foundations for his practice.

In his current paintings the grid has begun to close in on itself, leaving unexpected forms and radical figure/ground relationships in its wake.  Tolliver executes each work according to a series of discrete stages: initial layers of paint are almost completely obscured by subsequent ones, with masking tape methodically used both to inscribe grids and preserve areas of interest as the composition evolves. Despite the controlled character of this process, thickly applied patches of paint resist control and tend to override demarcations inscribed by the tape; the stippled, dissonant hues that provide a final layer only emphasize this productive sense of instability. Compositions seem to emerge as if by virtue of their own will, according to an innate, almost biological rhythm that reflects the plasticity of paint itself. 

For all of these reasons, Tolliver's paintings speak to a nuanced relationship with the natural world.  Their textured surfaces, for instance, which are notable for their depth of relief and seductive tactility, can be read as topographic maps or psychedelic scans of alien landscapes; their high-contrast chromatic range, meanwhile, can recall the lurid immediacy of Los Angeles sunsets.  And yet there is also something decidedly digital about the moods and spaces he conjures.  Instead of treating the organic and the manmade as opposing states, however, he approaches them as classifications on a single spectrum, posing questions about what it means to make something look and feel 'natural' at a time when technology is a pervasive––and at times predominant––force. 

Even as Tolliver continues to grapple with the legacies of abstraction in a contemporary context, his most recent works have begun to embrace figurative elements.  Just as pigment and medium are given free range within carefully defined limits to interact on their own terms, Tolliver allows the associative potential of his imagery to overflow the limits ordinarily attributed to abstract genres.  In so doing, he depicts the action of perception as it continuously strives to fix meaning amid unpredictable circumstances, as well as the futility of human attempts to exert undue control over the surrounding environment.  

Tolliver has presented solo exhibitions at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York; Left Field Galley, San Luis Obispo (with Shara Hughes); Durden and Ray, Los Angeles; HilgerBROTKunsthalle, Vienna; and GOLDEN, Chicago.  Group exhibitions include Painting in Place, Los Angeles Nomadic Division, Los Angeles, CA; The Road, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; Steven Bankhead, Britton Tolliver, Torbjörn Vejvi, Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Chain Letter, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; Baker's Dozen, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; and Working Title, Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY. 


Born 1976, Kingsport, TN
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA


2006             M.F.A., Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
2004             B.F.A., East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN


Powdered Toast, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

NO BAD DAYS, with Shara Hughes, Left Field Gallery, San Luis Obispo, CA

Weird Attic, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY

Moonsick, Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles, CA

Fixed Illusion, GOLDEN, Chicago, IL
The Search for the Sky Underneath the Dirt, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA


Trust Fall, Gallery ALSO, Los Angeles, CA
Fake News, CES Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Water and Dreams, curated by Katy Cowan, Green Gallery, Milwaukee, WI; Chicken Coop Gallery, Portland, OR
Group Show, werkärtz, Los Angeles, CA
SqigAlert, Cordesa Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA

Doppelganger, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA (catalogue)

Remains, Durden & Ray, Los Angeles, CA
Angels With Dirty Faces, Hilger Contemporary, Vienna, Austria

Blessed Oblivion, GAVLAK Gallery, West Palm Beach, FL
Your Favorite Artists’ Artist, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY

Painting in Place, curated by Shamim Momin, Los Angeles Nomadic Division, Los Angeles, CA
Steven Bankhead, Britton Tolliver, Torbjorn Vejvi, Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
The Road, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Golden Ass, Annie Wharton Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Chain Letter, curated by Christian Cummings and Doug Harvey, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Baker’s Dozen, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
Working Title, Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY

Meat Locker, Good Children Gallery, New Orleans, LA

(If LA changed it’s name to Miami, we’d be there), The Pink Flamingo Art Fair, Raid Projects, Los Angeles, CA
LA Abstraction, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
Group Exhibition, Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, curated by Joseph Wolin, Philip Slein Gallery, Saint Louis, MO

Always Kiss Me Goodnight, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
Summer Solo Projects, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
Alma Mater, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA
Architecture on the Cusp of Contemporary Landscape, William King Museum, Abingdon, VA

Runaway, Yachtclub Gallery, Detroit, MI
Summer Group Show, Angell Gallery, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Reality Bites, Angell Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Can I Borrow Your Spaceship?, Contemporary Art Institute Detroit, Detroit, MI


2008           Altoids Emerging Artist Award, Nominee, New Museum, New York, NY

2004           Pamela Appelbaum Wyatt Scholarship, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI 

2002           Ruth Adams Scholarship, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN


Horst, Aaron. “Snap Review: Fake News at CES Gallery,” Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles May 19
“Fake News,” Wall Street International May 11
Davis, Jeff. “March 2017 Art Column,” Sierra Madre Weekly Mar. 24
Enholm, Molly. “On View: Forays into Abstract Painting,” Art ltd. Mar. 10

“Britton Tolliver,” Jun. 8

Crest, Russ. “Made With Color Presents: Britton Tolliver’s Deconstructed Grid Paintings,” Beautiful/Decay May 14 
“Last Call: Steven Bankhead / Britton Tolliver / Torbjorn Vejvi,” Artweek.LA Jul. 1
Enholm, Molly. “Steven Bankhead, Britton Tolliver, Torbjorn Vejvi,” ArtScene Vol. 32, pp.18-19, Jul./Aug.
Ramos, Jason. “Too Big Too Fail: Painting in Place at the Farmers and Merchants Bank,” New American Paintings>Blog Jun. 21

New American Paintings, Pacific Coast Edition 2012, Vol. 103, pp. 146-149 

Byloos, Matty. “Studio Visit with Britton Tolliver,” Small Doggies Mar. 

McLean Emenegger, Ashley. “A Search for the Sky Underneath the Dirt,” Flavorpill 

Beal, Dickinson. “Philip Slein evokes Pollock, George Lucas,” West End Word Jul. 8 
Cooper, Ivy. “Take a look….the Mind’s Eye at Slein,” St. Louis Beacon 

Gorton, Brianna and Jenia Gorton. “Britton Tolliver at Kinkead Contemporary,” Artslant 
Altoids Emerging Art in AmericaNew Museum, New York, NY (catalogue)

Gordon, Ann. “Studio Sensation: Canvas and Crevices,” Real Detroit Weekly
Dault, Gary Michael. The Globe and Mail Toronto, Ontario, Canada

New American Paintings, Midwest Edition 2006, Vol. 65, pp. 142-145