Kent Paulette, aka Derfla, lets his subconscious and his
environment sculpt his paintings.
Up close, acrylic paint frosts his canvases like 3-D miniature galaxies. From across the room, the human eye fills in the image’s detail, built from puddles of color and shadow.
Paulette said that he does not strive for perfection, but to let his paintings become living “moments.”
“It’s art direct from life,” he said. “Instead of abstracting an image by my personal style of painting, I let chance abstract it.”
Paulette’s alias of “Derfla” is the name “Alfred” spelled backward. He had chosen it for a French class, but when another student named Alfred joined the class, he “naturally kept the name and just spelled it backward.”
A collection of 24 of Paulette’s 700 paintings will be displayed at the Nth Degree Gallery, located at 683 W. King St. in downtown Boone, as part of the First Friday Art Crawl Oct. 5, from 7:30 p.m. till late.
The name of the show is “Subatomic Compassion” – a show of dichotomies. Joy and extinction are in his painting, “The Memotype of Love and the Phemotype of Destruction.” Seduction and poverty are in the painting, “The Cold and Empty.” Science and religion are in “Cattedrale di S. CERN.”
“Women and intense looks on people’s faces are my favorite things to paint,” he said. “I earn a living mostly by commissions, landscapes and animals. This exhibit gets back to the early stuff that I’m interested in painting.”
His first remembered painting was at age 4, a black Dalmatian with white spots. It was entered into a kids’ exhibit in his hometown at the Hickory Museum of Art. “I started out experimenting from then,” he said.
His first exhibition was again at the Hickory Museum of Art in 1999 as part of the annual Paul Whitener Memorial Student Art Show. Painting has been his formal profession for the last 11 years.
Paulette’s art education is limited to typical middle and high school art classes, but by teachers who “let me do my own thing,” he said. “I don’t like painting between the lines.”
He was and still is most inspired by music, specifically Brion Gysin, pioneer of the “cut-up” method of music and experiments in randomness and repetition. “There’s music inside of me that wants to come out,” he said, painting to the “beat” of folk, Afrobeat and experimental electronica.
To build his discipline, he painted tedious geometric pieces, like his “MLK Mugshot” and “Dialogue with Elvis,” made up of 2000 tiny rectangles.
But his “natural” method is whimsical. After he sketches an outline, he “ninja splats” paint and scrapes the marbled colors like putty onto canvas with a palette knife, blending colors with his fingertips. He mixes some colors with water and lets them snake down the canvas. He stands close to his work to ignore his mind’s demands and keep from “seeing it too much, because that’s when I mess it up.”
Although his haven is his mountain studio, he often paints outdoors in downtown Banner Elk. He has had people paint on top of his pieces, play intolerable music and scare him in the middle of a brush stroke, he said.
“I want to lose control of a painting,” he said. “I don’t like hesitation, signs of overworking, or illusions in art.”
Paulette’s works are also displayed at Char restaurant and the Jones House Community Center in Boone.
For more information, visit http://www.derflapaintings.com and http://www.nthdegreegallery.com.