A Portrait of a Man

Apr 8, 2012

Editor’s Note: This exhibit, which we highly recommend, runs through April 22nd. One of our HP friends said it was the most outstanding exhibit she saw during her visit to PMCA—so you’ve got two more weeks to catch it!

An urban metropolis. Mysterious and alienating. Thrilling and adventurous. Moody and perplexing.

These are the words used to describe the works of Pasadena-based artist Richard Bunkall in explaining the context of his paintings that spanned a 25-year career before he died of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of forty-five.

The exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art refers to his “rich, muted palette,” that draws viewers into “mysterious interiors and lofty exteriors in which improbable things are seen in improbable situations.”  Art critic and curator of the show, Peter Frank, describes Bunkall (1953-1999) as “a classicizing kind of modernist, wanting to give his modernism the weight of history rather than the lightness of a historic innovation.”

Art historian Stephanie Retsek (writing for Kennebeck Fine Art) asserts that Bunkall began as an artist by sketching his interpretations of what he saw from his window on the 60th floor of an office building in New York City.

Tony Peters was a student at Art Center when he first met Bunkall. At that time, the artist’s body was withering already from the effects of his disease. Yet he continued to work from his wheelchair, using his left arm to hold up his right, a paint brush attached to his hand. Sometimes he even asked to have a painting turned upside down so that he could work an area that he couldn’t otherwise have reached.

Peters states on his blog that Bunkall “fought” with his paintings, working over and over areas already completed, “building up a beautiful impasto, with lost and found ghost images.”

The exhibit at PMCA strives to “look at the many ways Bunkall conveyed the adventure and described the mystery found at the heart of the American metropoli.”

Richard Bunkall: A Portrait
Pasadena Museum of California Art
Exhibit runs through Sunday, April 22nd
490 E. Union Street. Open Wed.-Sun., 12 p.m.-5p.m.
For info, call 626.568.3665 or visit




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