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Dan Christofferson & Trent Call

Kayo Gallery - Salt Lake City, Utah

April 17 - May 12, 2009

By Cara Despain

Salt Lake City-based artist Trent Call has made several smooth transformations in the course of his career; and it seems each is more mature than the last.  Best known in his home region of the west for his unmistakable style of buzzing, colliding graphic pattern and an urban-meets-1930’s cartoons, Call started in graffiti and ended with a poppy, illustrative yet painterly oeuvre.  He has been published in both Juxtapose and New American Paintings.  His most recent endeavor, a two-person exhibition with fellow Salt Lake artist Dan Christofferson at Kayo Gallery in downtown Salt Lake City, marks another departure in his work’s lineage. 

With the exception of Final Call, a large triptych in his signature style that was seven months in the making, Call’s work in the show appears more subtle and intuitive.  Gestural figures-strange hybrids of cartoons and portrait-emerge from layered, knifed-on, painterly grounds.  They are sanded and abstracted; his usual tubular brights merely peek out from behind the unassuming cream and beige colored paint that veils them.  The pastel, subtle patterns employed with this series (”dissembled 1-7″) draw from more classical references, than do his usual brazen, geometric, urban-influenced constructions-which are evident still in the triptych.  The paintings are heavily layered-almost like a stratified compilation of his styles over time. Final Cut, the more topical, sprawling, old-timey city-scape rampant with graphic characters and explosive, pop pattern covering three large panels, sharply contrasts the smaller, more intimate paintings that accompany it.  They seem two separate thoughts. Call uses media as the need arises-be it print, stickers, painting…he can’t be nailed down to any one tool. This exhibition at Kayo is a nice detour into the synthesized, sensitive side of his work.

Dan Christofferson, a relatively fresh face to the Salt Lake art scene, has had a similar evolutionary path as Call.  He too was taken with the work of illustrative artists, and spent some time with the rattle can.  His intrigue with old masters is also evident in his works-many use religious symbols, and are altar-like fabrications-complete with exposed wood and draped with lush fabrics.  His work at Kayo is wrought with symbolism; a Utah native, the strange settlement history of the state, and his own genealogy (both his western and European roots) is the springboard for his recent mixed-media works.  And just as the history itself is singular and something all its own, so are the pieces-they may include (but are not limited to) printmaking, painting, coffee staining, and woodworking.  Despite all the constituents, they are phenomenally clean-lined, classy, and illustratively young all at once.  Adorned with beehives, snakes, impaled hands, and a conglomerate of other figurative metaphors, the pieces cryptically comment about Mormon heritage and aptly display the mastery of many mediums Christofferson possesses. 

Combing two artists with a street art, illustrative background inherently makes sense, but the exhibition goes a step beyond that to reveal their evolution over the last several years of influences, and is a better show as a whole for it.  The work is not just fun to look at, or something you take at a glance.  It’s executed with intention and is polished, without having lost its aesthetic or youth in between.


Cara Despain is an artist and freelance art writer from Salt Lake City.  She received a BFA from the University of Utah in 2006, and has recently been traveling and working from Salt Lake, Berlin, and Miami. 

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