Knobby Knees, Travis Collinson’s second solo exhibition of paintings and drawings at Maloney Fine Art, is a new body of work; a series of portraits using family, friends and colleagues painted with a signature style of simplified form and pure color, providing insight into the intimacy shared between the artist and his subject. Collinson started as an illustrator/cartoonist, creating comic book narratives within the frame. An emphasis on drawing is underscored in his work. Each of his subjects, seemingly devoid of expression and in a state of anomie, are depicted with large heads attached to bodies cut off at the knees—distortions of form and space, compressed as if swaddled within the frame. Through this compression, they become highly expressive, gesticulative figures of personal emotions and spiritual truths.
Conceived as a series, these artworks are a continuation of Collinson's investigation of the work of other artists, primarily those whose portraits are recognized as their legacy, like Jean Auguste DominIque Ingres, Édouard Vuillard, and contemporary artists such as Alice Neel, Alex Katz and Marlene Dumas. His interest also lies in the personas that an artist takes on; in this series he focused primarily on the persona of Andy Warhol, known for his opaque, non-persona often likened to that of a zombie. The title of the series, Knobby Knees points not only to where his depictions of people end within the frame, but also draws reference to the Nabis group of artists: Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Paul Sérusier. Pronounced nah-BEE and derived from a Hebrew word meaning prophet, the Nabis artists each took on a different persona within the group. Collinson imagines himself as the Nabi of the Empathetic Portrait, looking to interior spaces and to artists' internal thoughts and experiences as refuges from the modern world.
Travis Collinson has been featured in group exhibition throughout the country most recently in Look at me: Portraiture from Manet to Present at Leila Heller Gallery in New York and a solo exhibition at Dominican University titled Narcolepsy in Pink. He was also featured in the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive exhibition Hauntology and is included in their permanent collections. He currently resides in San Francisco, California.