Christopher Pilafian

Art Studio, Los Angeles & Santa Barbara, California

The Artist

Christopher Pilafian

Christopher Pilafian

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About the Artist


I have been painting and drawing since childhood. My parents, who were designers/architects, introduced me to composition, perspective and color theory and encouraged my joy in creating. I gained further awareness of techniques, materials and styles in early classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The museum's beautiful collection offered a sense of history and has remained a life-long source of inspiration, I also studied art at Cranbrook Institute, the Roeper School and the Bloomfield Hills Art Association.



While drawing and painting came very early, I also studied theater from age six and acted professionally till age 14. About then, I fell in love with modern dance in junior high and gradually became more serious about it. Seeing the tremendous amount of time, energy and commitment dance training demands, I spent less time painting and drawing. I received scholarships to Interlochen Arts Academy and The Juilliard School and went on to an dynamic professional dance career based in New York City.

Reach Photo by Tom Caravaglia from "Speeds" by Jennifer Muller


After 15 years of international touring, I relocated to California to join the faculty at UC Santa Barbara, serving as Vice Chair of the Department of Theater & Dance and as Artistic Director of the university's professional resident dance company, Santa Barbara Dance Theater.

The career change provided opportunities to renew my early passion for visual art. I took art classes, began painting seriously, and exhibited work in solo and group shows. Along the way, I also designed costumes and scenery for stage productions.

Headshot Photo by Phil Channing


I paint to discover. Fascinated by the interaction of color, light and motion, I know that many aspects life that interest me most deeply elude description. As a visual and theater artist, I view a blank canvas, like an empty stage, as a space for playing, exploring, and expressing that which is beyond words.


I love playing with color interactions because of their dynamic nature. Creating the "Motion" paintings, I moved my whole body as gesture. I am excited by translucency and its ability to suggest spatial depth, passage of time and liminal perception. Some images, emerging from meditative and/or playful states, lean into metaphysics.

Career Highlights

After an extensive performing career, I have exhibited paintings and sold them to private collectors across the United States. Works are grouped by type: "Penumbrae" (light, shadow and color), "Motion" (kinetic gestures) and "Figurative" (representation).

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