David Amico Brings LA’s Streets Into the Gallery

David Amico, “Untitled Blue” (2007), oil on canvas, 108 x 144 inches

LOS ANGELES — After spending the good part of three days in David Amico’s studio, looking at work he’s made since he was a student at California State Fullerton, I have been thinking about how to characterize his paintings and his career, both of which have remained under the radar. Are the paintings he has made since the mid-1980s, when he hit his stride, abstract or representational or both? Would it be accurate to say that Amico is an observational abstract painter working in the sphere of artists as different as Catherine Murphy and Peter Dreher? How should we regard his use of the camera and overhead projector? Would it be accurate to say that he is a photo-based abstract painter working in counterpoint to Robert Bechtle? After all, many of Amico’s source images come from particular neighborhoods, just as Bechtle’s stark, moody paintings were inspired by the empty streets of San Francisco’s Potrero Hill. Can an artist working this way still be true to paint’s multiple identities?

This is what I like about Amico’s paintings. They don’t fit into any of the categories established by the art world. I can say what I see in individual works, and even guess the sources of many, but I have never come up with an umbrella category for them as a group, nor has he has ever developed a signature style or been part of a trend. Now in his early 70s, Amico is an under-recognized artist whose works warrant a museum exhibition and monograph.

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