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ffieaE**E.= F-E*pEce: +:3r"ear*m **.* <*=:=<+&,.i.+==sa$" e'xJlPT'#="i4,?:he;t#â&#x201A;Ź *.;-' s$t* ;'="i.r*il"',,;; i."., r, #'" ':i Bt'. MALCOLM LIEPKE'S i-pr"rrive figurative work extends beyond the classically inspired work of his heroes-Whistler, YelAzquez, Sargent, Schiele, and the masters-to forge a strikingly modern vernacular. He explores the emotional fabric of our lives and charts the intimate moments when we feel unobserved. When viewing his paintings, we experience a sharp flash of recognition. "Malcolm's work has always been about the emotional connection he is able to create between his paintings and his viewers," says Steve Diamant of Arcadia Fine Arts in New York, which has represented Liepke for close to 20 years. "His juicy brushwork makes even the paintings'


surfaces sensuous." Liepke, who loves early modern architectural design and feels it has influenced his art, lives and works in a Prairie School home in suburban Minneapolis. The Prairie School style, considered the first uniquely American residential architectural style, evolved from the handcrafted, meticulous design and construction prevalent during the early years of the 20th century and is closely identified with Frank Lloyd Wright .It features flowing interior spaces and clean lines, often u,ith well-defined vertical elements that mimicJapanese shoji screens. Liepke's home is the perfect setting for his studio and artwork because these very qualities are often echoed in his paintings: It is not unusual for the artist to juxtapose flowing human figures aiongside or in front of geometric patterns and shapes, and to employ vertical gestural components for emphasis and rhythm. Liepke's studio is not a showplace for fans to tour. It's a private, working studio where only family members are allowed. It's a place where ideas are enacted on canvas, where the artist sorts mental images like "His juicy brushwork a przzle master, trying a piece here and there, turning it this way and that, until, finally, it pops into place as his larger vimakes even the paintings' sion comes into focus. Liepke describes his


as very eclectic and personal. "It's

messy, sloppy even,


rfaces ser'lsuoLls."

with paintings all over


Tetluride Gatlery of Fine Art, Telluride, CO; Arcadia Fine Arts, New York, NY; Albemarle Gallery, London. England. UPCOMING SHOWS 5olo show, Telluride Galtery of Fine Art, February l-March 20 5olo show, Albemarle Gallery, mid-May.





SENSUAL, OIL, 20 X 20.



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DNEAMI the lloor and stacked ever1.r.r,here," he says. 'At one end o[ the room is a stone fireplace u'ith a davenport and a blg-screen T\/, and at the other end ls my humongous library." There are shelr,es and shelves of art books. He has amassed everything he can find about the artists he loves, at times spending years hunting dou,n a rare book to add to his collection. The remair-ring u,alls of the studio are covered u.ith paintings and prints, and one area serves as an "idea space" u,here he pins up sketches, photos, and scattered notes about possible fr-rture paintings. He works entirely in artificial light, and all of the r,r,indou,s in the studio are taped up. "\\ihelr I light my figures, I create my ou,lr vision of reallty," says the artist. "There's not a lot of deep shador,r, or nuance. My process is mostly about the struggle of getting out u,hat I \\.ant to say-the act of painting is probably




ta x 24.

only about 10 percent of it. There's a 1ot of contemplation. Once I'r,e u,orked out my concept, the painting goes fast. That flash of execution comes quick11.." Liepke uses both professional and nonprofessional models and shoots a lot of photos. "I larel1, have a model sit for a lengthy pose," he explains. "Tl-rat can cause a scene to go sta1e, to lose its freshness ar-rd immediacy." He first blocks in an idea ar-rd then resolves any composltional problems as he goes. Employing his ou'n highl1, personal sense of coior, the artist occasionally thlor'r,s in a dash of the r,rnexpected, a visual surprise u,ithin a dorninant palette of greens, grays, and biacks. He rvorks \ ret into, using a loaded blush to achieve the lush, painterly look that is his slgnature. When preparing for a shou,, he often has 20 to 3L)

canvases ln process at once.








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in \linntstrt.i. Hi\ l.rlcnt\ \\-clc siqne rs u-h,r cr.'rte cl -rc:rsonal cle cor ftir shtrplinq il.rils ell ole r thc ctrL.,ntrr-. :r \(rLlnq,\te r, J-ie pl<e e .\ccllac1 in ,.$ o Lhinq-scle


-sports anci;li't. lic l(tnqed to becotre ii ilt'oicssi.n:11 rthlctc. hut :r-. hc qrcs trlclcl he re :i1i:ccl it \\ as lrot ttr be . \r't c,inrc c.rs11r'. rurcl

iris terrchels cncor-1r'irqccl lrrnr. ",\r't chose mc." hc..r-s. llc hecl ctrnsidcrccl becont lnq .l-r :trchitcct, but rl ttr scrinq :r br.rchut'e 1or the lllestiqioLrs -\rt t.cntcr College trl L)esrqn 1r-r Lrrs \nqclc,s, l-rc clcciclcd to lre ltcl \\-e st t(r strLclr :rrt in,rte ecl. Ho\\ a\-.r. it ilrrsr-r't cprite thc cxpcrie r-icc he hrrd enr r,sionecl. It rn crl shcr.r rrlt eciLrc:rtir'rr.r hrcl rLrlnccl front cias-qicnl trllnit-rq trr crltceptLLill illt. rncl T-iepke 1-rac1 rrlue1's becn clras-n to figllr.lti\. \\-or'li. "BrLt thc1. m:tcle ire loclrs rrnd eille me e cralt as eir illustr.rtor'." he srr1 s. He h,rng rrrclund L.,\. 1or arr-hlle. srrlliin.q :ts :r commer.i.rl :rrt-

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ist. crcn tr1<ing rr turn crerttiltq poster-s tbr r-novie.-s rincl illltstl"attions ltrl' :tLch s-e lfknt,s'r-r f \ slt(r\\'s rrs ilich \1arr. Ilrrrr- \1ror, starrirrg Nicl< \Lrltc. llrLt the \\tst Llo.rst sccnc jnst n'rrsr-r't 1ot'hirr. Nen'\brk bcckoned. ()nce the rc. "-fhinqs iLrst exploclccll" hc -<11 s. "Evcrl,Lrne's or-r their ou n roird to scll-cliscovcr'1.. It's clifterent lol errch indir idual. \\'hen I rnovecl to Ncu \trrh. i startecl goin.q tt'r mLL,sellms rrncl lerrnr-

rll thc greer irrtist-c. i le.rnred color. cor.rl-rosition, rrnd tecl-rnicptc. I realr:cc1 their sorli \\'rrs ml kind Lrl u,rrl<. -fltct'\\'r:re tn\r lreloes. so l becrrr-rrc [ircjr stuclcnt. I cenre to lor-e the citl'. 1n fact. s-e liept ,rr-r the re untiljr-rst a lls \-cirrs .tgo." inq frilnr


\br'li, t-iep1<c I highh.s,.uqht-after illustlator. His .llina, rppcarcd on rhc c()\'crs of \irr.srrrill, l:rrr-/ris, for-irirrc. and \p,rlis iilustiirtirl. rrlionq othe rs. I::ie clicl s-el1, L.ut eventr-trt11)'he tire d ol tire conrpronrise s reqnireci bv thc corporirte uorld. "Glert rrrt






















STUDY IN MAUVES, OIL, 14 X 16. is about one person's vision," he explains. He wanted to focus on his own interpretations of a theme. So in the early '90s, he left 1llustration behind and turned to fine art full time. Eager to try ne\rr processes, he studied lithography. He gained access to t\^.o antique Marinoni Voirin presses-the same type Toulouse Lautrec used-and began producing labor-intensive, hand-drawn plates of elegant, graceful images. But each image took months to produce, and he didn't really enjoy the process. It was time to devote himself to his true passion-figurative

painting. Today Liepke exhibits internationally and has received many ards and accolades that reflect his growing status as a significant American artist. His paintings are in the permanent collections of the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Smithsonian, and in the private collections of such celebrities as Barbra Streisand andJames Brohn, Donna Karan, Brooke arn



Shields, and Diane Lane. Or,er the past decade, Liepke's u,ork has become richer, more sensual, and more evocative. Llntil qulte recently most of his compositions featured one or t\\,o central figures (often emphasized in startllng contrast against a background of geometric patterns and shapes) or small groups of people engaged in conversation in a busy bar scene. Particularly compelling are his paintings of lone female figures-all soft, curving lines with glowing, luminous flesh and lush lips-caught unaware in an intimate moment and rendered in a flurry of articulated, flashy brushwork. "I love dramatic gesture," says Liepke, "and I consciously search out compositional devices that will heighten and strengthen a

painting's emotional impact." He collects Japanese prints and antiques and is a huge fan of Japanese artists such as Hokusal, Utamaro, and Sharaku. He is drawn to their undersrated style and saturated color, the care-

cLosEUP, OrL,



X 26.

fully thought-out use of black, and the inherent

sense of design that is so characteristic of their u,ork. He has lound similar r.vays to approach his ow-n palntings, accentuating their hlghly emotional aspects through the angles of hls sub.lects' arms, bodies, and expressive hands. He maps the geomerry' of this human Iandscape through repetitiorl of gesture, angle, and line, and underscores it through careful attention to negative space. If you squint, each painting appears a u'ell-balanced, coherent design irrespective of figurative content, making the piece emorionally, intellectually, and visually satisfying. In his most recent images, Liepke zeroes in on that most telling component of the human figure-the face. In these pieces he feels less need for a narrative setting and employs looser, il,ilder brushu,ork to further anlmate the subject's emotional expressiveness. Considering such paintings as DREAI\IING, OVER HER SHOULDER, or RUBY LIPS, it's easy to see he has closed in on the crux of his style and is painting ir boldly u,lth a masrer's experienced hand. These faces are voluptuous and juicy and totally arresting. As Steve Diamant says, "Liepke is distilling dou,n to the core essence of u'hat attracts people to his u,ork. He's putting a magnifying glass on this essence by going right to the face." Early cartographers made maps rhat dreamed of an unknown physical world, u,hile later geographers satisfied their dreams u,ith carefully detailed drar.vings of every hill and \\.arer$ray. Malcolm Liepke mines his u,orld for emotional content, s\\.eeping brush across canvas to reveal private thoughts and imaginings, and, in the process, reveals himself. -:. r. {.,-rrl'sll,ls. i rl it r.ri' l,i i irr r:l r; -.,', i l: il 11;11 rrlili::rt I l;lttit t|i,lrl 1,1i,:llto (lilr,::r,li:1. A1. L.{ri ri;i)}':i rrj r:i l}icli:r H.i.:r,t,lt lr.: ri l't'lr j I }i:t i', i,r. 11;,1 1



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Malcolm Liepke - Southwest Art - February 2010  
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