Erik Minter’s work plays on bold, vibrant color combinations often met with sky-tone gradients that weave between graphical shapes and fluid-like splashes. Combining abstraction with surreal figuration, Minter has moved from digital drawings and photographic manipulations to paint and the physical surface, seeking to capture the emotion of experiences, either lived or dreamed, and to express his feelings and curiosity about life. With different layers that unfold over time, each work gives way to new discoveries. When Minter bends the flow of color, his forms look as if they could not be controlled, however they have been. His technique, both premeditated and unplanned, channels him to find and explore pleasures, ironies and the mutable and plastic nature of existence. Experimenting with techniques, as well as the strength and agility of his body, Minter continually pushes the limits of painterly expression. Through his experiments, he has developed a set of techniques that he now combines to create truly unique works of art that serve as both traces of processes and immutable results.
Born in 1979, Minter grew up in a suburb of southern Maryland always knowing he wanted to do something with art or architecture. His grandfather, Kauko, encouraged Minter on his creative path, giving him brushes and oil paints at the age of 8, which inspired him to go beyond drawing and model making.
During high school, Minter designed illustrations for a skateboard company’s decks, did custom graphics on friends’ denim, and pursued his love of drawing, photography and painting—sometimes even expanding it onto public walls in and around Washington, D.C., and its Wall of Fame where he learned his own rules within graffiti and remembers witnessing and getting inspired by legends like Zephyr. During his senior year of high school Minter was awarded both Presidential Merit and National Talent Search scholarships to attend Pratt Institute. During summer breaks from Pratt, he worked as a muralist, painting trompe l’oeil scenes to mimic Tiepolo-style paintings in private residences.
In 2000, Minter graduated a semester early from Pratt and went directly to work painting a mural for Matthew Barney’s film Cremaster 3. Barney kept him on, and he was able to apply many of his sculptural skills to the film as well as to Barney’s Guggenheim retrospective. Following that experience, he opened an art studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and worked on industrial design and sculptural consulting gigs, including the development of Paula Hayes’ Silicone Planters in bright, vibrant colors. He followed this with a full-time gig sculpting, moldmaking, welding, finishing and patinating for Tom Otterness’ studio for more than three years. During this time, Minter was formulating his own ideas about painting. He worked with a lot of one-shot enamel paints and experimented with every combination of paint imaginable, at first working on MDF panels then switching to aluminum upon finding some street signs. After finalizing major public sculptural collections with Otterness, Minter became interested in computer graphics and began to do package design and illustration work, eventually getting into web development and 3D design. During this time he assisted with 3D sculptural processes for some of the David Zwirner gallery’s artists, including Adel Abdessemed, Carol Bove and the late John McCracken.
Minter eventually relocated to Buffalo, New York, where having more space refueled his interest in painting, this time on a somewhat larger scale. He began showing with Hallwalls Gallery and received a solo exhibition at the boutique hotel Indigo. At that time he was producing work focusing on surreal figuration and motifs.
When he relocated again, this time to New Jersey, his focus shifted back to graphic and retail design. Desiring to return to painting, he built a studio in a detached garage and began developing digital painting, combining analog paint swatches with hand-drawn or photographed figures. After a year, he began stepping away from digital experimentation, but still uses it to aid his process.