Former art critic William Powhida unpacks his feelings about the art world and community by craftily using the medium itself to exemplify, deconstruct, and evaluate. Whether it’s an installation piece, abstract painting, or neon structure, the essence of art criticism and commercial machine surrounding an artist’s success or failure is heavily examined in his work.
However, Powhida’s recent emerging sentiment is not completely sardonic nor too serious or precious. Of his recent show, “Bill by Bill,” the LA Timessuggests, “What saves the work from grating sarcasm or smart aleck cleverness — toward which the artist has erred in the past — is a curious undertone of sincerity. Powhida is not mean-spirited or bitter but seems genuinely driven to understand his subject: the internal mechanisms of this peculiar social and economic ecosystem. How does the art world work and how should we feel about that? How much of ourselves should we reconcile to it?”
Marco Mazzoni’s work softly drips with an exquisite ease of darkness. From blooming faces where birds gather to a rabbit draining with butterfly wings, each image surrealistically depicts folklore infused with spiritual healing properties that twist and twirl with our own imaginative connections to nature.
To elaborate, Jonathan Levine Gallery notes, “Mazzoni’s imagery references herbalist traditions and Sardinian folklore of mystical seductresses who enchant, curse and cure. His body of work is a tribute to the legacy of female healers throughout history. These women held an important role in medieval communities yet their ancient knowledge of the natural healing properties of medicinal plants was widely feared by the Church, viewed as witchcraft and cause for persecution.”
Natalie Arnoldi grew up in Malibu. Deeply enriched by such coastal experiences, her oil paintings, however, are not so much picturesque, as they are quietly treading with fuzzy emotional frequency. Ranging from the momentary bliss of a fading firework over water to the lonesome bending highway long after dusk, each piece captures a certain hypnotic and unsettling obstruction of weather and abstraction of shape: a familiar interlude before the abyss.
Of her work, Arnoldi states, “Both processes, science and art, are a form of exploration, at once (both) highly emotional and analytical, but always inquisitive. The methods might be different, but the goal is the same—seeking truth in the most authentic way I know how.”
British photographer Nick Veasey uses an x-ray machine to discover the transient magic of everyday things from clothing to stuffed animals, but most beautifully– flowers. Although, the concept is simple, the effect is quite radiant: imagery blooming with intricate nuances, highlighted by surprising shades of light. The whole collection is fine reminder of that medium’s powerful science outside of the airport– that technology doesn’t just serve to protect, but how it also serves to expose.
Just when you thought Banksy was the real trickster of the art world, along comes . . . Hanksy, the puntastic street fartist. His use of satire not only challenges the smug, but playfully subverts the current street art standard with a necessary dose of light antagonism.
Check out the video after the jump to see a short documentary about Hanksy’s mysterious persona: his meager “greeting card” beginnings and current mission statement, which centers on a dream of meeting Tom Hanks.
Suellen Parker builds each character from unforgettable moments of strangers or friends. First, she starts with sculpting the shape from plastiline clay before photographing it with a blank backdrop. Then, simultaneously, she scavengers for props, walls, or environments that might suit a certain character well and shoots those too. All of these images are finally loaded into a computer, where the art of merging and manipulation occurs. Skin tones are “digitally painted” and human faces technologically blend with clay while backgrounds stitch together to create a new imaginative world.
Of Letting Go, her most recent series collected here, Parker strives to twist not only mediums, but also gender roles. She suggests her characters concretely and conceptually have a fine blend of both, and states, they “are attempting to find a sacred space, a place of vulnerability, a place where they allow themselves to be really seen. By quieting one’s life, even momentarily, an opportunity is presented to learn truths about oneself. By engaging in private play, one is able to let go of expectations and rules. The result is a private and truthful moment that may be enjoyed without fear of judgment or consequence.”
From burning Birkin bags to Barbies in Bondage or a clad Lindsay Lohan playing with guns, Tyler Shields’ subjects are as Hollywood as the photographer himself. Even his Tate Modern acquisition was documented on Mrs. Eastwood And Company, an E! reality television show.
Like Andy Warhol, Shields’ famous connections and brazen use of them, make his work ripe for the picking, for better or worse.
His most captivating imagery, to us, however, has less obvious celebrity shock value, depicting instead more theatrical situations where subjects are posed, mid-action, falling from rooftops or engaged in colorful night fights.
From Futura Standard to Helvetica Neue, designer Aleksi Hautamaki refits vintage neon letters, previously destined for the bin, with a touch of LED lighting to resuscitate their glow for another 10 years.
Character, his company, sells each piece to the public, intending to cultivate a “second life cycle” capable of creating “new value for everybody involved.”
Likewise, portrayed here in a series of artful photographs, each previously abandoned bit of font now haunts the city, with a fresh sense of freedom, searching for a new artful context, home, or environment outside its previous life in advertising.