Kris Bowmaster unmasks the inner “Predator/Prey”

"The Lioness," by Kris Bowmaster is one of the works on display in "Predator/Prey."  Image courtesy of the artist. “The Lioness,” by Kris Bowmaster is one of the works on display in “Predator/Prey.” Image courtesy of the artist.

Whether hanging on the walls of a Charlottesville hotspot or on display on the Downtown Mall, paintings by Kris Bowmaster are immediately recognizable. Not only does Bowmaster create pieces with distinguishable vibrancy and wistfulness, but he paints with a purpose that speaks.

Bowmaster’s upcoming show “Predator/Prey,” was inspired by photographs of animals attacking and consuming each other. He was especially moved by a particular photo of a lion on the back of a bison, triggering a sense of wonder at seeing two animals approaching what he calls “ultimate intimacy.” Indeed, as he put it, “how can you get closer to anything other than to ingest and digest it?”

Despite a lack of formal training, Bowmaster has been an avid devotee of many art forms including dancing, singing, and poetry for years. Dance often bleeds into his painting, both in form and process; in one specific methodology of his process he “approaches the canvas with paint on [his] fingers to perform [dance] gestures,” purely to implant the sensuousness and vehemence of dance into the strokes of pigment.

“Painting is violent,” Bowmaster said. “I’m constantly destroying what I’m doing and adding on to it.” The cathartic nature of his works reveals an aggravated and turbulent, but still formative inner dialogue.

When asked to elaborate on the thematic elements confronted in the ferocious depictions in “Predator/Prey,”  Bowmaster explained that it’s more an “exploration” rather than a thematic progression that necessitates a resolution, and that he is staying true to his convention of self-development with an audience. “It’s about people, not animals,” he said. He believes that one plays the role of both predator and prey upon reaching a depth of intimacy in a relationship, and that the roles are interchangeable and alternating.

Much of his artwork is his way of “figuring things out in front of people” and staying in touch with himself. “People should come before a painting and be able to feel that the artist went through something,” Bowmaster said. He dives head first into a visceral and primitive ideology and, in doing so, reorchestrates his perception of himself and his experience, promoting candidness and mindfulness in the midst of a separated and inhibited reality.

He explained that, in “Predator/Prey,” he aims to address the “precariousness of closeness,” and the idea that relationships are about surrender and “coming down the ladder” of power and autonomy to sink into coalescence and interrelationship. This theme will be further explored during dance performances with Charlotte James and Dylan Jacobs that will accompany the show opening on June 8.

Through his art, Bowmaster creates his own turn to be heard and delivers a message of great magnitude. “So few people get a turn to be heard in the world,” he said. ~Chelsea Blakely

Saturday 6/8  No cover, 5:30pm. “Predator/Prey,”  Performances begin at 7pm with Dylan Jacobs, Charlotte James, and Kris Bowmaster, followed by a poetry reading by Colotte Blount and a DJ Dance Party with DJ Bow and DJ Bristol  8:30pm. Milli Joe’s Coffee, 400 Preston Ave. 282-2659.