S O C I E T Y & C UL TUR E ar t Three contemporary artists take inspiration from the Pacific’s captivating waves. By Michael Slenske SURF STROKES F rom his iconic Surf Paintings to his recent collaborations with L.A.-based surfwear brand RVCA, there’s no denying that Julian Schnabel’s passions for art and surfing intersect. And Schnabel is far from alone: Aussie designer/surfer Marc Newson created a nickel surfboard for his 2007 solo show with Gagosian Gallery; Richard Phillips put Lindsay Lohan on a longboard for his 2012 film, First Point ; and the “surfer paintings” of former waterman Raymond Pettibon garnered an acclaimed retrospective at the Venus Over Manhattan gallery in 2014. Surf-studio synergy is also paramount for a trio of artists with L.A. ties. “The ocean is a place where I feel tuned into forces beyond my control, and it gives me a chance to meditate on the fact that I am just a microcosm in the ether in this thing called life,” says Theodore Boyer (theodoreboyer.com), a Seal Beach-raised, L.A.-based surfer whose geographically-informed, pigment-infused grout paintings of Plutonic and Arizona landscapes were the subject of his recent Set in Stone show at Venice’s Shulamit Nazarian gallery. “I can’t help but think there is someone somewhere in the outer cosmos surfing the perfect tubes of a faraway planetary network.” Mid-City-based painter/performance artist Grant Shumate (grantshumate.com) spent years surfing Point Dume and working out of a trailer at Paradise Cove. For Shumate, who has a show this fall at Human Resources (humanresourcesla.com), surfing is “a way to move within the moment and react fluidly from a near unconscious state. On a primordial level, we all come from the ocean—a place where inner and outer landscapes come together.” French-born, Brooklyn-based artist Jules de Balincourt (julesdebalincourt. com) spent his teen years in Malibu, has traveled from Costa Rica to Morocco in search of the perfect wave and returned to L.A. early this year to work on a suite of paintings set in this “mythic and geographically sprawling metropolis,” he says. His works feature “reoccurring themes of micro-communities and Edenic bays or Gauguin-esque landscapes, as sanctuaries or escapes from the daily grind of urban living. It’s not a surprise that so many surfers are artists,” he says. “Both [practices] demand a nonconformist, spontaneous, intuitive approach to the world. Whether it’s tides, swells, moons or moods, the artist has to be sensitive and responsive to his physical and psychological landscape.” In other words, art imitates surf, and vice versa. 56 A N G EL EN O J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 6 “BICYCLIST” (2014), BY JULES DE BALINCOURT, OIL ON PANEL, 48 BY 40 INCHES; “DEATH VALLEY BLOOM 003” (2016), BY THEODORE BOYER, SANDED GROUT AND PAINT ON CANVAS IN STEEL FRAME, 68 BY 46 INCHES; PERFORMANCE PLATFORM INTERACTIVE STAGE (2015), “EVERYTHING’S ALRIGHT” DIPTYCH (2015), FABRIC DYE, INK AND BLEACH ON CANVAS, BOTH BY GRANT SHUMATE EVEN FLOW From top: “Bicyclist” (2014) by Jules de Balincourt; Theodore Boyer created and conceived “Death Valley Bloom 003” when he was spending significant time in the ocean. “Surfing for me is being immersed in nature and gives me inspiration and clarity, so I can make art,” he says; an installation shot of Grant Shumate’s show Easy at Hou Yee Chan Gallery.