Dear “Psychedelic” Artists: It takes more than neon paint and a strategically placed black light to blow one’s mind. Just ask Larry Carlson, visionary multi media artist! I would describe Carlson’s work as Magritte and Dali’s love child if such a child were conceived after the advent of Photoshop. Beautiful yet jarring, welcoming yet otherworldly, Carlson’s work is a true feast for the eye.
Beautiful/Decay has partnered with premiere website builder Made With Color to bring you some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. Made With Color allows you to create a website that is professional and accessible with just a few clicks and no coding. This week we bring you the thick and gooey paintings of Annelie McKenzie.
Los Angeles painter Annelie McKenzie doesn’t delicately paint the figures in her works with thin transparent layers of paint. Instead she wields her brush and palette knife with abandon covering every square inch of her painting (and decorative frames) with brilliantly awkward paint handling. Dealing with themes of art history, gender, craft, and kitsch, McKenzie mixes high and low with thick globs of paint all the while referencing, acknowledging, and sampling compositions and techniques of the painters that came before her as well as her contemporaries.
Philip Kwame Apagya is a Ghanaian artist whose color photographs reflect a contemporary twist on traditional West African portraiture. In Apagya’s photos, subjects interact with his brightly painted 2-D backdrops, interiors and exteriors that catalogue the trappings and accoutrement of an affluent international culture. Subjects inhabit faux living rooms showing library shelves or consoles stuffed with expensive electronics, or chat on cell phones standing before home computers, or prepare to board that international flight to happiness. While Apagya’s photographs reflect a young and prosperous generation of consumers, one can imagine that for some, the photographs also present a “reality” beyond their means.
Illustrator Keren Taggar hails from Jerusalem, Israel, where she recently graduated with honors from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Particularly adept at storytelling, Taggar draws mostly thoughts and feelings–things that are deemed “un-drawable.” I really enjoy how her precise lines retain a strange mellowness in spite of serious subject matter.
Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, of Baltimore, produces sculpture, collage (see above), and illustration. But the majority of his fine arts output is done through digital media. His digital compositions aren’t really like any I’ve seen before. They combine a far out, cosmic sensibility with soft, colorful gradients and textures. I could meditate on these for a while. Some of Alvarez’ works are so simple, yet they maintain a lot of gravity, as though they hold something really important just beyond your grasp. And the creepy smiley faces he repeats throughout his work really get to me. Click past the jump for more collage, couches floating in space, and a workbench installation.
Talk about impressive craftsmanship. In a stunning feat of virtuosity, the Chinese artist Ch’en Tsu-chang carved an astoundingly complex scene into a single olive pit in the year 1737. The tiny sculpture is complete with eight exquisite human figures enjoying a serene ride in the furnished interior of a boat with movable windows. To construct the piece, the artist, hailing from Kwangtung and having entered into the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture during the reign of emperor Yung-cheng, allowed his eye and hand to be guided by the natural shape of the olive pit.
Measuring 1.34 inches in length and .63 inches in height, the work was inspired by a poem titled “Latter Ode on the Red Cliff,” written by Su Tung-p’o some six hundred and fifty years before; it depicts the poet and his seven companions on one of his two journeys to Red Nose Cliff, the site of an epic battle that proceeded the poet-official by eight hundred years. On the helm of the boat, the artist meticulously engraved 300 characters from the beloved poem, whose moving lines served as an artistic theme well into the Qing Dynasty. Somehow, the delicate and intricate composition elevates the epic subject matter, making it all the more precious and highlighting its worth as a narrative worth careful representation. What better way to honor a poem about a natural landscape than by rendering its speaker in an organic substance?
Michael Massaia is a documentary style photographer who specializes in black and white film. His “Lost: Las Vegas Call Girl Cards” series touches on the over-saturation of advertising, commodification, waste, and salaciousness within our culture. In his own words: “The photos were taken with my modified 8×10 camera with two 100 watt flood lights mounted to it. All of the images were captured on black and white film developed in Pyro. I then handmake split toned silver gelatin prints for each one. The images were all captured at night on the ground/street or on the grass, where they eventually get thrown after they are handed out along the strip in Las Vegas.”