Initially inspired by an accidental discovery of Marilyn Monroe’s image embedded within the frames of Shinobi—a classic SEGA console game from 1987 Japan—Atlanta-based artist Ashley Anderson‘s multi-media exploration of the icon’s 8-bit image skims across the realm of painting, drawing, collage and animated gifs. The glitchy, pixelled-out nature of the images is indicative of Anderson’s 8-bit aesthetic, but this new body of work somehow begins to morph, to twist, and to move into something more obscure. Loaded with fragments of late 1980’s digital culture, some pieces only offer the faintest recollection of the image, requiring a bit more visual extraction to pull out the digitally reduced visage of Warhol’s Marilyn. As a whole, the investigation is an intriguing peek into the nature of digital reproduction and image appropriation.
Proliferations of mixtape-themed things exist in the art & design world, having hit a high point in the mid-2000’s—where images of “vintage” cassette tapes covered everything from pillow cases to USB drives. What got lost somewhere in there was the sentiment that was originally attached to the archaic plastic medium, the sense of pride that comes from crafting (and usually gifting) someone with a perfect, personal selection of songs. Portland-based illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt has embarked on a long-running series of mixtape drawings, where she picks up long-since discarded cassettes and makes a quick, humorous sketch…and she’s taken submissions for the project for a while now. As a series, the fresh, expressive drawings reveal an intriguing cross-section of personalities, musical tastes and long-lost good intentions.
For anyone with a fondness for west coast life, the gritty, glorious scenery that unfolds across Bay Area painter Laura Sutro‘s canvases is nothing short of sentimental. In simple, generous strokes, Sutro uses tastefully honest narrative to spell out one person’s journey on the freeways, down the sidewalks and through the bedrooms of a contemporary California. Her lush, layered color palettes echo a careful, critical study of light, while her snapshot sensibilities make each piece feel curious and fresh.
Sutro’s works are currently viewable at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery in San Francisco.
After spending a few decades shooting high-concept high-fashion spreads for the likes of i-D, Vogue, W Magazine, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior, photographer Nick Knight has recently launched a body of work in London, nearly 10 years in the making. Inspired by paintings from the Baroque period, Knight’s altered large-format photographs of elegant floral arrangements take on a psychedelic, gorgeously twisted liquidity. By exposing the prints to various combinations of heat, chemical and water treatments during the printing process, he’s able to interject each piece with an intriguing, painterly flair.
A curious emptiness permeates the work of painter Chris Ballantyne. Pulling inspiration from the flat, graphic façades of industrial buildings and cookie-cutter suburban streets, Ballantyne merges elements of the banal with the absurd. Upon closer inspection, the vibrant, delicately rendered landscapes reveal strangeness that showcases the artist’s wry, observation-based humor. A giant cavern appears between bright, friendly row houses, surfers ride breakers down a peaceful mountain stream and a tiny footbridge spans a huge geological tear through a grassy plateau—shifting the viewer’s expectation of what “should” appear in the context of each frame.
His subdued, sophisticated color sense marries well with the stark, simplified structures Ballantyne creates. He intentionally omits visual information in the hopes that viewers will instead focus on the subtlety of each scene, their attention swallowed by the strange beauty of each place. The empty, isolated nature of the subject matter also quietly points to our own relationship to space, built structures and contemporary landscape.
At a time when makers have more tools at their fingertips than ever before, it’s intriguing to see an artist dedicated to perfecting the use of the most basic, universal medium: pencil on paper. The delicate, slowly unraveling works of Bay Area artist Claire Colette showcase a deep understanding and intimacy with her chosen medium. The works are an investigation of fragmentation—reminiscent of destroyed VHS film, magazine clippings or even slightly fragmented memories. The works reveal the artist’s interest in capturing, remixing and representing an instantaneous moment, despite the fact that each piece is slowly and meticulously rendered in graphite.
The mystical, mesmerizing performance works of Atlanta-based artist Shana Robbins stretch the boundaries of the real. Her jarring, costumed and choreographed rituals of passage are strange and unreal, yet compelling. The photo-documentation of each performance points to carefully constructed sets, costumes and props that set the stage for her offbeat, painterly vision of theatre. Conceptually the works address conditions of the natural realm, feminine existence and ritual with a futuristic, pagan edge. Drawing on her own experiences as a student of Butoh movement, Robbins explores methods of movement and storytelling that pull from ancient narratives of birth, death, identity and transformation.
Tabitha Soren‘s most recent body of work, simply titled Running, is an interesting collection of photographs that capture individuals fleeing in a state of sheer panic. By withholding most of the context from these freeze-frame images, Soren leaves her audience hanging in a moment of suspended terror—with no option but to construct a narrative around each scenario she presents. Each highly cinematic snapshot resonates with an easily relatable range of human emotions, and the focus of her work as a whole is tied up in using her lens to investigate the messier moments of life.
A longtime journalist and documentarian, Soren seems comfortable working in the realm of subject matter that is slightly unresolved. “My work is about what people can survive and what they can’t,” she says. “It’s about decay, how life can be reckless, and how you have to keep going. I explore how people can pick themselves up.” It’s interesting to see how these themes play out across the series, leaving traces of vulnerability, fear and escape etched into their collective storyline.
See Soren’s work currently on view at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.