I have been painting faces and figures throughout my career as they are part of an ongoing journey of which neither I nor the viewer will ever tire. The foundation for my portraits comes from the African Mask. As a child, I remember the visual impact it had on me and remains strong in my retainable memory to this day. The mask forces a response from the viewer, whether a primitive or contemporary response. Colour is the symbol I use to reflect the emotional stages through which we as humans experience - reds for the violent past, blues, greens for the peace to come, and yellow and oranges for the bright future ahead. The latter is not guaranteed in my paintings. However, I think it is attainable in life.
— Carl Karni Bain


Carl Karni Bain (BAI) received his fine arts training at the California College of Arts and Craft. He has exhibited extensively in the San Francisco Bay area, North Carolina and New York.

His work forms part of the permanent collection of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and the Harrison Museum of African America Culture.

David Gresalfi writes that BAI has made the concept of the mask his chosen vehicle for exploring the boundaries of abstraction and representational form. By reminding us of our earliest obsession with recognizing and reading faces, he asks: What is it that you want to see in this picture?

His figures and faces seem to lack exterior warmth, while retaining and communicating a powerful sense of mystery.