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Caleb Lyons at HARPER’S


Caleb Lyons wants to buy your house. Or, his paintings say he does. His show title, I’m Surprised You Haven’t Called, refers to one work that reads “I WANT TO BUY YOUR HOUSE NOW CALL ME 323 417 8999.” Throughout the show, similar text demanding that you sell your home NOW is painted in bold, expressive typefaces along with imperatives like “START PACKING NOW,” “BE A MAN,” and “TAKE ACTION.” 

The text on each painting, always in cheerful bright colors, often feel like witty exaggerations, though they are in fact lifted from signage that Lyons has seen around Los Angeles, often most present in lower-income neighborhoods. Their recent proliferation speaks to the larger socio-economic shifts within our city and impending gentrification. 

Interspersed throughout is a second series of paintings, titled Fountainheads, in which drain pipes cartoonishly spew sewage out across the canvas. These apocalyptic landscapes, while also playing with wit and humor, pair with the text works to present a wry picture of our modern day in which development at all costs often tramples over people and the environment.

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On view: January 14 – February 11

Photo: Caleb Lyons, I’m Surprised You Haven’t Called (installation view) (2023). Image courtesy of the artist and HARPER’S, Los Angeles.