Not long ago, Jeffrey Gold disappeared from Los Angeles' art scene."I just buried myself in my work," said the 45-year-old artist. "I didn't let people see the work. I was kind of struggling."
The impressive results of his 2000-2002 artistic hibernation will show at Forum Gallery beginning Oct. 18.
Gold is preoccupied with the human figure. Yet unlike many artists, his work eschews irony. Gold paints what he sees and relishes.
"I paint from my own personal experiences," said Gold, whose works also feature friends, lovers and family, even if those moments are personal and painful.
Gold experienced emotional turmoil as a child when his parents divorced. The son of an observant Russian-Polish mother and a secular English-Romanian father, Gold and his two sisters grew up in the Miracle Mile district.
"We were very kosher." Gold said. "Following the divorce, my dad gave us bacon. When we first tasted bacon, we wanted to kill my mother!"
After Beverly Hills High School, Gold attended Art Center College of Design, where he clashed with the commercial art curriculum.
"I wound up teaching myself how to paint," said Gold, who vowed to return one day to the college and share his experience. That circle closes in November, when he will teach advanced painting at his alma mater.
Gold wasn't always a figurative painter. He began as a photo-realist, depicting toys, Archie Comics and Red Hots. His joy came in capturing the plasticity and color of kitschy objects.
"It was almost a challenge," he said, "to see if I could put them down on canvas as they were."
The novelty wore off after a 1989 exhibit by Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum that changed Gold's artistic life. From Nerdrum's figurative paintings, Gold derived "such an emotional impact that kind of jolted me into realizing that I was happier painting figures than painting toys."
At the end of the day, what you see is what you get in Gold's work -- albeit filtered through the artist's emotional state.
"I paint from my life," Gold said. "If I paint a lot of tulips, it's because I love tulips."
"Jeffrey Gold: Recent Paintings" runs from Oct. 18-Nov. 16 at the Forum Gallery, 8069 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Opening reception is Oct. 18, 6-10 p.m. For information, call (323) 655-1550.