Art by Design

Esteemed local architect Jeffrey Kalban unleashes his artist within.

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    Pauline Adamek

“Space. That’s what fascinates me as an artist and architect. It’s what I live for.” 

Jeffrey Kalban shows remarkable skill at wrapping structures around living areas—as evidenced by designs including The Getty Center South Building, classrooms at Harvard-Westlake School or the sprawling, tree-shrouded Viewpoint School campus. The latter garnered his firm, Jeffrey M. Kalban & Associates, an award from the American Institute of Architects/San Fernando Valley Chapter.

But the architect adopts a more whimsical and poetic approach with his unusually creative artworks: hand-carved, curvilinear marble pedestals and bold abstract paintings. Combining his love of vibrant color with geometric forms, Jeffrey plays with oddly-shaped canvasses, confounding the viewer’s sense of perspective. 

His dynamic paintings appear to soar toward the viewer. Solid and translucent painted pieces overlap, producing new colors and altered planes. The visual experience is nothing less than-jaw dropping as one struggles to reconcile the imagery. 

"The architect adopts a more whimsical and poetic approach with his unusually creative artworks: hand-carved, curvilinear marble pedestals and bold abstract paintings.” 

“I’m trying to create space where there isn’t any: in front of the usual two-dimensional surface of a flat canvas,” he offers. The vivid, three-dimensional optical illusions belie their humble origins of acrylic paint on canvas and plywood. 

The married Sherman Oaks resident retreats to his home studio when he wants to escape the strictures of his chosen métier, though he maintains, “There’s a romanticism to all my architectural work. I like to design curving forms to draw you in and create a sense of place.” 

Jeffrey studied at Ohio State University before working with legendary architect I. M. Pei in New York. The artist recently exhibited a selection of his multicolored paintings at JNA Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Stunned by how his perception of his own pieces radically altered when they were brought down from the wall, Jeffrey dashed back to his studio to create a new one. 

“I have an aesthetic inside me that I keep wanting to try and push,” he smiles.

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