December 5, 2022

Like many of the great Los Angeles painters of his generation, his peers, Michael Alvarez is an incredible observationalist. Graffiti fostered this relationship with space and place, with his keen eye able to see angles and sight lines and portions of the city that others maybe cannot fully take in. That is the beauty of a graffiti artist turned traditional (or non-traditional) painter; they have an eye for the unseen or undocumented places of our cities. Good Looking Out, on view at Matthew Brown, is a play on that ability to have a unique vantage point, both a nod to graffiti and to looking at the city in his own way. 

As the galley notes, in reference to his graffiti influences, “Back in the studio, the fragments of his memories and reference images coalesce to form diffuse compositions that are reminiscent of a fading wall tag or a lossy digital image. Inextricably linked both to memory and to low-res photographs, Alvarez’s social-scapes achieve an impressionistic openness by way of temporal and technological mediation.”

Los Angeles is constantly in flux and layering upon itself in the rare way that makes it such a unique urban experience. Alvarez is painting the life, decay, evolution, the causes and the effects. It’s a beautiful world. —Evan Pricco