This Saturday, Brooklyn-based mural artist and painter (and former Twin Cities resident) Eric Inkala returns to Minneapolis for the opening of a new solo exhibition, "Eric Inkala: Chaos Complex," at Public Functionary. The show will feature 12 to 14 original paintings and a large-scale mural.
Inkala's work has roots in graffiti, but in recent years his graphic style has been further simplified, distilled down to its essential elements of pastel colors and flat, two-dimensional shapes. The upcoming exhibition at Public Functionary marks the debut of a new series of paintings that Inkala, a self-taught artist, has assembled over a two-month period in consultation with the show's curator, Tricia Khutoretsky.
"This is my first exhibit in Minneapolis in five years," says Inkala. "So it's going to be interesting to see people's response to where my work has gone since relocating to Brooklyn. "
[jump] Khutoretsky got to know Eric Inkala several years ago, when she profiled him for the now-defunct print magazine Industry. After Inkala relocated to Brooklyn, Khutoretsky continued to follow his career.
Inkala often posts photos of his creative process on Instagram. Khutoretsky was particularly impressed by the fact that his work showed evidence of "a new layer of complexity and depth." Public Functionary had been looking for something bold to bring the gallery's second season to a close, and Inkala's paintings fit the bill.
"It was kind of perfect timing for both myself and the gallery for this show," says Inkala. "We had been talking about doing a show for a while now, and I made a bit of a breakthrough in my work at the same time as they were figuring out what their last show of the year was going to be."
Public Functionary was envisioned as an incubator for creative ideas, and Khutoretsky was eager to showcase Inkala's artwork at the very moment when the artist was starting to make the transition to a different style. Khutoretsky was particularly interested in "seeing an artist progress, and find what his narrative is."
After visiting Inkala's studio in New York, Khutoretsky kept in touch with him through an ongoing series of text messages. The exhibit took shape based on those discussions.
"Being an artist in New York is no joke. [There's] so much competition. You really have to want it to get anywhere in that city. I've always had a very strong work ethic in the studio, but since moving to New York it has narrowed my focus even more," he says.
Inkala is known for his use of a signature character, and in this latest series he continues to incorporate similar iconography (such as cartoon eyeballs), along with yellow lightning bolts, curlicue lettering, and layers of text.
"The character has been a main focus for me for years now," Inkala explains. But as his artwork has gotten more complex, the character has become "more of a basis for abstraction and exploration."
Because the paintings are so colorful, Public Functionary has chosen to display them against a neutral background. The gallery walls have been painted a shade of gray, as the work is really bright. The central focus of the show will be a full-scale mural assembled on an underlying structure within the gallery.
As usual, Public Functionary will be hosting "PF Takeovers" on Friday nights, in which members of the local arts community are invited to come in to stage events in the space.
IF YOU GO:
"Eric Inkala: Chaos Complex"
The show opens Saturday, November 22 with a reception from 7 p.m. to midnight, featuring resident DJ Sarah White.
Through December 20
Gallery hours are 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Check Public Functionary's website for details about Friday night PF Takeover events.