Art Critic Peter Frank reviews work by Clayton Mitropoulos


“The portrait is one of the traditional fundaments of Western painting since the Renaissance. Its psychological as well as aesthetic hold on us, of course, stems in great part from its concern with other human beings, beings recognizable or made recognizable to us in reposed but dramatic fashion. The camera has displaced the canvas as the repository for the “true” (supposedly indexical) image, but that has only freed up latter-day portrait painters to let their powers of imagination and rendition run wild. In this respect Clayton Mitropoulos has been running wild for a long time, and shows no signs of stopping.

Employing a pictorial idiom that embraces Western and Eastern traditions, anime book stylization and intricate abstraction, intimate affection and bold social parody, Mitropoulos has developed an unsettling but endearing kind of imagery, surreal and familiar — even cozy – at the same time.


Mitropoulos’ people, harking from all over the world, tug at our fascination with and fear of the stranger. The artist makes the Other at once more and less other, endowing his buzzy peoploids with infectious energy and vaguely recognizable features. But who are these endearing creatures? They are as cute as pets but they’re clearly civilized. They evince regional fashion – now Asian, now Caucasian, now Latin, now African – without self-consciousness or condescension. (It’s a small world after all.)  They display a reassuring, even infectious playfulness, seemingly joking about their situation(s) and about the audience’s slow-wittedness.  The mocking is gentle.  The humanity is what counts.

The world Clayton Mitropoulos assembles from a globeful of sorta-humans is our world reflected back at us – a portrait of a species, but with it’s nastiest edges honed.”

-Peter Frank, Los Angeles, January 2024