Solo Exhibitions

2017    Shadow Discarnate, KP Projects, Los Angeles, CA
2016    Sky Without Angels or Stars, KP Projects, Los Angeles, CA
2015    Carbon, KP Projects, Los Angeles, CA
2014    Inseparate, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2013    Speculations, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2012    Grey, LAUNCH, Los Angeles, CA
2012    GaGa Gallery, Insa-dong, Seoul, Korea
2012    MayJune Gallery, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
2011    Specifically Ambiguous, LAUNCH, Los Angeles, CA
2010    Scaped, LAUNCH, Los Angeles, CA
2009    Observations, Lawrence Asher Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2008    Black-and-White Paintings and Color Photographs, Four Walls, San Diego, CA
2006    A Travel Log of Fireflies, Four Walls, San Diego, CA
2005    Pattern and Contrast, Four Walls, San Diego, CA

Group Exhibitions

2017    Annual Group Exhibition, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX
2016    All That Glitters, KP Projects Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA
2016    Art San Diego, with the Blue Azul Collection, San Diego, CA
2016    Seoul Art Show, with CK Artspace, Seoul, Korea
2016    Asia Contemporary, with CK Artspace, Hong Kong
2016    Seoul Open Art Fair, with CK Artspace, Seoul, Korea
2016    MAS Attack, San Diego, CA
2015    Annual Group Show, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX
2015    California Light, Sturt Haaga Gallery, La CaƱada Flintridge, CA
2014    Praeteritum, Nunc, Futurum, KP PROJECTS / MKG, Los Angeles, CA
2014    Small Things, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX
2014    Group Show, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX
2014    A Rare Glimpse, City of Brea Art Gallery, Brea, CA
2014    Silicon Valley Contemporary, with Merry Karnowsky Gallery, San Jose, CA
2014    LA Art Show, with LAUNCH, Los Angeles, CA
2013    Group Show, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX
2013    Fountain Art Fair, with CK Art Space, New York, NY
2013    Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, with LAUNCH, Palm Springs, CA
2013    Beyond Plots, NSA&D Faculty Show, San Diego, CA
2013    Worlds Apart Fair, with Charlie K. Art Space, Singapore
2013    LA Art Show, with LAUNCH, Los Angeles, CA
2012    Vale Fine Art, Paso Robles, CA
2012    Tarfest, Juried by Holly Harrison of LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
2012    ArtPad SF, with LAUNCH, San Francisco, CA
2012    Hong Kong Contemporary, with Charlie K Artspace, Hong Kong
2012    Seoul Open Art Fair, Seoul, Korea
2012    LA Art Show, Modern and Contemporary, with LAUNCH, Los Angeles, CA
2011    MK2 Projects, Los Angeles, CA
2011    ArtPad SF, with LAUNCH, San Francisco, CA
2010    Tarfest, Juried by Edward Robinson of LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
2010    Los Angeles Juried Exhibition, Juried by Franklin Sirmans of LACMA &
           Allie Subotnick of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2009    Context and Construct, Lawrence Asher Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2008    Aboutness, SB London, Los Angeles, CA
2007    Juried Group Show, District 117, San Diego, CA
2006    Stephen Beck Gallery, Santa Ana, CA
2006    Monarch Fine Art, La Jolla, CA
2006    Gifted, Four Walls, San Diego, CA
2006    Adorn, San Diego, CA
2006    Truck Show, Thread, San Diego, CA
2006    Space, San Diego, CA
2005    Adorn, San Diego, CA
2004    Adorn, San Diego, CA


MS Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego
BS Psychobiology, University of California, Los Angeles


ArtScene, "Continuing and Recommended," May 2017.
Diversions LA, "KP Projects Dazzles", August 2016.
Artsy, "There Is No Los Angeles: Todd Carpenter Grays Out L.A. for His New Solo Show", July 2016.
Section 8 Magazine, "Todd Carpenter - Sky Without Angels or Stars & Vonn Sumner - To Be Seen", July 2016.
Los Angeles Times, "Todd Carpenter on art, neuroscience and seeing the light", August 2015.
WideWalls, "Deedee Cheriel and Todd Carpenter On Show at Merry Karnowsky", August 2015.
Hi Fructose, "Opening Night: Edward Walton Wilcox and Todd Carpenter at Merry Karnowsky Gallery", June 2014.
New Times SLO, "Anatomy on Acid", February 2012.
FABRIK, "Todd Carpenter, Painter of Light", December 2010.
Off-Ramp, interview with John Rabe on SCPR, November 2010.
ArtScene, "Continuing and Recommended," July/August 2008, p.28.
San Diego Visual Arts Network, "Raw: Out and About at the Galleries," June 2008.
California Home & Design, "The Light Touch," May 2008, p. 68.
San Diego City Beat, May 28, 2008, p.19.
San Diego City Beat, "Preview," November 2006.
La Jolla Village News, "Talk of the Walk, Galleries Pour It On," October 5, 2006.
University Heights News, "March Exhibition at Space," March 2006.
San Diego Architecture Downtown guidebook, cover photograph, 2005.

Statement, 2017: Shadow Discarnate

Not things but light. See nothing but light. The light that refracts and reflects, perfusing the world before passing in under our eyelids. It bears messages about where it has been, written in the distortions traced in its rays, but it is only light itself that we ever truly meet. For our eyes take in not the world but merely light, and light is a shady messenger that cannot be trusted. What it shows is only shadows, projected on the dark wall of our subterranean imagination. The real appearance of reality remains a mystery, or perhaps more precisely reality has no appearance at all other than the illusion produced by the mechanisms of minds.

Possibly there is where light filters into emotion. When we see, though we only think we see, somewhere within the fluctuations of white and night we find that we have felt. That feeling may be of the knowledge of not knowing, as the distortions told by light leave us sensing that there is more: to see something is to be reminded that you can never know what that thing truly looks like.

All we can ever see are shadows and distortions - never substance itself - and these paintings too are merely of shadows. They are are depictions of light, but it is light disembodied and allowed to resettle in oily puddles on the picture plain. If the images evoke places, they are places that can be felt but not known, and the evoked feeling is of the mystery at understanding that the real world hides behind what we glimpse. See, and what you sense is cold from the dense shade of the unknowable, and know, these paintings are shadows of shadows.

Statement, 2016: Sky Without Angeles or Stars

There is no Los Angeles. The term "Los Angeles" is merely a reference to a group of ideas and feelings that people have towards a vaguely defined geographic area. It is not even a single idea: each person who thinks of Los Angeles is thinking of something different. It can be home or work, traffic or beaches, aspiration for success or a spot of ink on a map. To outsiders Los Angeles is a fantasy seen projected on screens, or a symbol onto which one projects fantasies of stardom. Perhaps the word refers more to the atmosphere then to the land beneath it: Los Angeles is the air that enters your body and becomes a part of your molecules when you are in a certain region of California. More than this, Los Angeles is the light that passes through it, the light not of the stars but of the sun, which allows one to see the city's varied landscapes and conveys the feeling of what it is like to move through them.

Los Angeles is merely an idea cast loosely on the land. It is not a real object, for real objects have physical boundaries, while there are no limits to what constitutes Los Angeles. The city is not like a tar pit or hot tub, for which one can know without doubt whether in or out. If anything, Los Angeles is like a tattoo on the flesh of the earth, indistinct from the deserts and hills on which it is engraved, and so it is that if you drive out from the city center into the surrounding landscape, the tattoo fades only gradually. Indeed, it never entirely fades, for no matter how far you drive, part of you will remain part of the idea of LA.

Is it possible for painting to depict this vague mental construct called Los Angeles? With this body of work I have tried to express the essence of Los Angeles, to invoke its feel rather than its superficial characteristics. The works do not precisely depict particular parts of the city, for there are no specific details that are mandatory for a description. None of the streets, buildings, hills, forests, deserts, or beaches are necessary or sufficient for a depiction of Los Angeles, but taken together they might add up to something resembling the sense of Los Angeles. These paintings attempt to portray what it feels like to be in Los Angeles, or possibly what it feels like to dream of it.

This is Los Angeles, imagined not imaged. LA has already been recorded in countless images, and if you have spent time here you likely walk around with photographs of the city on your person. But snapshots in cellphones portray merely the past. They depict real people in scenes that have already been acted out. The paintings in this exhibit on the other hand are more about the future than the past, for as they represent the idea of Los Angeles, they are the setting for events that still exist primarily in the imagination. Thus they are like theatrical stages, empty and waiting for viewers to cast themselves in their own fantasies.

As a painter, I am particularly interested in how the depiction of light contributes to our experience of paintings. The portrayal of light enables a painting to convey depth and some of the feeling of being in a place. As the brain process lighting cues primarily through channels that carry only black and white information - as opposed to other regions of the visual system that use color and detail to distinguish specific objects - painting in black and white enables me to focus on spatial relationships and our emotional responses to spaces, without distraction by the incidental details of the thing depicted. So it is that this body of work endeavors to represent Los Angeles by showing not the particulars of its physical traits but the illumination through which the city marks our memories. These are paintings of air and light, for that is Los Angeles.

Statement, 2015: Carbon

As a painter, I am particularly interested in the depiction of light, and in the ways in which light contributes to our experience of paintings.

As with any visual art, painting obviously has an essential dependence on light, but there are other, more specific ways in which light is important for paintings. In particular, the depiction of light is crucial for realism. Realism in paintings presumably arises from the accurate portrayal of depth: to see a painting as realistic means to see its subject as existing in more than just the two dimensions of the picture plane. There are several mechanisms by which humans perceive depth, one of which being the detection of lighting cues. The behavior of light in space, generating features such as variations in shading and contrast, tells us about the three-dimensional arrangement of our surroundings. Artists have long used the depiction of these illumination phenomena to impart realism to depicted scenes.

Another manner in which light contributes to paintings is through its ability to impact emotion. The lighting of our surroundings can evoke human emotion, as clearly evidenced by the influences sunsets, candlelight, and darkness can have on us. Effects such as these suggest that our perception of light might be connected to primitive instincts, with light possibly signaling environmental variables - such as shelter, nightfall, or warmth - that were once crucial for survival. The depiction of certain lighting conditions in a painting might have a similar ability to modulate the perceived significance of the represented scene and thus contribute to the emotional impact of the painting.

One reason why I paint in grayscale is that it is suited for the portrayal of light. The lighting features our brains rely on for the perception of depth are apparently built primarily on tone rather than hue. This idea is supported by research in neuroscience that suggests that the areas of the visual system that process spatial relationships are to some degree distinct from areas that encode the colors and details used to delineate specific objects. By painting in grayscale I am attempting to interact with this part of our visual system, with the hope of imparting a degree of realism, and perhaps also conveying some of the emotional significance that light can imbue on places.

It is through light that we see the world, but light itself is also seen, with an impact independent of the objects that project it. Light is both the crisp contrast of a back-lit forest and the gray haze of an industrial landscape, its perceptual power being what transmits the distinct atmospheres of such scenes to the viewer. This ability of light to effect us is the connection between the diverse subjects depicted in my paintings.

The title of this exhibition refers to another commonality shared across its varied subject matter: the chemical element that is both the foundation for the ecosystems of this planet and an agent for our harm to those ecosystems, and which is also the essence of the black pigment used for these paintings. In keeping with this chemistry, the titles of the individual paintings are based on the names of organic molecules that naturally occur in certain plants. Being organic according to the technical use of the term, these molecules - not unlike the paintings they name - are built from a skeleton of carbon.