During the depths of the Great Depression, Llyn Foulkes was born in Yakima, Washington on November 17, 1934. In the turmoil of the era, his father abandoned the family, and would be absent for the first 21 years of Llyn’s life. The search for role models took the form of Walt Disney, Spike Jones, Charlie Chaplin and Salvadore Dali. Emulating their characters would dominate his early years until induction into the American military occupation of Germany post WWII.
Wallace Berman, Jess, Kienholz, and the afterglow of the beat generation became major aspects of his growing artistic compass. Moving to LA, driving a taxi in support of a young marriage and daughter occupied his days, and painting in the studio would consume his nights. Obsessive and intense, he was viewed as a loner in these early years leading to his dismissal from the fraternity boys club later mythologized as the Ferus Gallery. While he moved his work across the street to the short lived Rolf Nelson Gallery, Llyn was hot with critical successes in Sao Paulo through the sponsorship of Jim Demetrion, director of the Pasadena Museum at the time, and the Paris Biennale. However, as would be a pattern throughout his life, after a major commercial sell out show in Paris with Galerie Darthea Speyer, Llyn would shift gears and leave his ever popular rock frottage canvases behind and move on to more rugged terrain, the human face. Post Dealey Plaza and the JKF assassination, followed by Martin Luther King, and ultimately the Los Angeles Robert Kennedy assassination, Llyn began his bloody head series. The first of which, Who's on Third, was galvanized by a visit to see an artist friend working late nights in a morgue. Reviewed as "Baconian horrors" when first presented, Llyn proceeded with full intensity and a probing intellect into these portraits with unrelenting courage. The heads inhabit their spaces, impossible to ignore. They are a living, breathing testimony to the complexities of this rapidly changing and compromised environment.
Since the early 80’s, Foulkes has turned to working on a series of tableaus beginning with O’Pablo (1983), and his breakthrough work entitled POP (1986-1990) now in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Utilizing fragments of clothing, upholstery, taxidermy, and found objects were all conjoined with the painted surface aiming for a heightened sense of realism. The tableaus including The Lost Frontier 1998- 2005), and The Awakening (1994 - 2012), are a summation of 30 years of artistic exploration and became the new standard for Foulkes. With Paul Shimmel’s seminal Helter Skelter exhibition in 1992, and the recent Hammer Museum retrospective in 2013 curated by Ali Subotnick, Foulkes was propelled to new levels of recognition. His energy and his commitment to the continual advancement of painterly possibilities has lead him into what can easily be read as a Post-Pop Era.