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Nate Plotkin: KARATE MAN

Apr 30 - May 25, 2024

Nate Plotkin

Untitled, 2024

Oil on Canvas

36 x 36 in. (91 x 91 cm)

Nate Plotkin’s ‘KARATE MAN’ explores the idiosyncratic world of Karate Man, an offbeat, narratively disjunct series of paintings featuring the figure of Karate Man, described by the artist as, “A 46 year old man…6 foot two and slightly out of shape…[with yellow] shoulder length hair with bangs and a mustache…[who] wears a karate gi and black belt at all times no matter what the situation is.” The series contains Karate Man in a plethora of situations and environments in Clifton, described as every town in America where decades overlap, and all geographical features are available. Plotkin declares that the main source of all tension and resolution in Karate Man’s life are his conflicting responsibilities as a father and husband, an owner and sensei of his dojo, and as a secret agent.

Plotkin’s usage of oil paint fluctuates throughout the series, exacerbating the conglomeration of scenes from suburbia that spans America and the tension between Karate Man’s separate, yet coexisting roles. In ‘Portrait of Karate man’, Plotkin creates a more fully rendered image of the character, the full cheeks and sense of humor harking to the portraits of Botero; while the thematically similar ‘Laying in flowers’ depicts Karate Man in an almost opposite manner, layers of oil paint peering through his austerely yellow hair with cartoon-like lines separating the figure from its background of loosely painted flowers. Other paintings throughout the series reflect this ever-changing style of painting and brushstrokes, perhaps mirroring the Karate Man’s roles and how they dictate his environment. Plotkin has imbued this series with his outrageous sense of humor and imagination; leaving simultaneously satisfied with the narrative structure of the works while still wanting more.

Nate Plotkin was born in Longmeadow, Massachusetts in 1986 to a family supportive of the arts and is now based in Brooklyn. Plotkin attended the Maine College of Art before leaving the program in search of a more personalized education through mentorship. He has previously exhibited two solo shows with SHRINE, including his 2018 show ‘Mystery Channels’, which was written about in the New Yorker. Plotkin also participated in a group show at Magenta Plains’ 2021 group show, ‘Friends and Family’.