Unbelievably, the stunning and incredibly realistic works of artist Robin Eley are not photographs, but meticulously created paintings! The artist uses oil paint to render hyper-real portraits with fragmented hues and picturesque, nude figures. Each figure looks so photorealistic, it is hard to believe that it is a painting. Every last element is executed perfectly, as you can even see every detail in the tattoos on the figures. As if painting realistic nudes with this high level of skill was not impressive enough, Eley displays his figures through fractals of color, as if they are behind stained glass. The geometric shapes cutting through the composition offer us a stark juxtaposition to the organic, soft bodies that are behind them. This sharp pattern dissects the human body into segments so that we may see it in a different light.
Eley not only paints his figures behind brightly colored, intersecting shapes, but also wrapped in materials like plastic. This highly textural element also gives an interesting contrast to the bare skin of the figures. The crinkles and creases in the plastic create a sort of fractured impression, just like Eley’s pieces with the “stained glass.” Originally from Australia, this L.A-based artist has had his work exhibited internationally and also has work in private collections all over the world. If you have the chance to see Eley’s prolific work in person, make sure to take advantage of it and experience every tiny detail of these hyper-real paintings.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Monica Canilao. See the full studio visit and interview with Monica and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Monica’s studio is in a huge space in Oakland shared by other artists, performers, and musicians that together have created quite a vibrant, enterprising community. In order to get to her studio we had to go up a set of stairs and climb through an entryway draped with layers of fabric, which then opens up into an attic-like room where Monica works. Crawling through that entryway was like moving through a space-time portal and getting dropped into a fantasy world that can only be described as a mash-up of my glamorous grandmother’s closet and the treasure trove of those renegade dwarves in the movie Time Bandits. I was a bit dumbstruck, to be honest. It took me a minute to gather my wits and to begin speaking in full sentences again, instead of just “oohing” and “aahing” and pointing at things. As we settled in, Monica made us delicious “cowboy coffee” in her makeshift kitchen, and then we got to talking. Essentially, Monica is a doer and not much of a talker— don’t get me wrong, she likes to chat it up, but she doesn’t seem that comfortable discussing ideas head-on, instead she expresses herself anecdotally, weaving stories in and out of conversation, letting you read what may or may not be between the lines. She likes to keep her hands busy and her body moving; she’s definitely action-oriented and is all about joining forces with other artists. When we visited Monica she was busy installing work for her collaborative show with her good friend and fellow artist Bunnie Reiss at Lopo Gallery, and so we visited her at the gallery, too. The work there was truly collaborative, and spoke to what Monica is all about— shared experiences, the re-telling and re-shaping of stories, found materials, and the power of visual terminology.
Earth, Wind & Fire: "I Am" (album cover inside), 1979
Shusei Nagaoka (born in 1936) is a Japanese illustrator whose best known works were for music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the artists he did covers for include, ELO, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Caldera, and Pure Prairie League.
Artist Ivan Puig likes for his work to surprise and amaze, and two of his series, Fed Up and Artificial Growth do just that. Using a car and chair, respectively, he gives the illusion that these very solid, massive objects have sunken into the ground, as if they are in quicksand. The preciseness of Puig’s work and the fact that he’s cut the chair backs and Volkswagen Beetle at a perfect angle add to the believability of it all. While the artist strives for his work to have humour, he wants the viewer to read it in multiple ways, and glean various metaphors from his playful execution.
His installations are not only meant to delight us, and the sinking chairs in Artificial Growth have a more serious message. This piece comments on educational doctrines and their power structures that are present in Mexico. With this series, he brings to light the idea of the artificial education – like the lies and half truths taught and passed down to students which we only realize are wrong many years later.
We have featured the work of Yago Hortal in the past (here). He continues to produce lush abstractions that pulsate with energy. In his newest series he takes the Impasto technique to the extreme. Massive gobs engulf his canvases. Tidal waves of color confront existing surfaces adding increased depth to his kinetic compositions.
NYC-based artist Julie Evans creates these floating abstractions out of water-based paints on mylar (plastic sheeting). She lets the colors pool in bright puddles, cuts out individual sections, and collages them together to create new, but organic, shapes. Occasionally, soft pencil marks are added to form edges and shadows. Her creations look like something out of biology class; a cross section of a plant, a fragment of a mineral, or a grouping of cells. Though these collages are fabricated by hand, each piece looks like it came straight out of the natural world. Evans is currently displaying her work at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY.
Erwan Frotin’s STRANGERS series captures the flowers of Hyères (Flora Olbiensis), the dramatic and highly specialized world of plants in the region around the Villa Noailles—known as a birthplace of Surrealism—and pictures them in a fresh and invigorating way with closer ties to portraiture than a biological cataloguing of species His is a contemporary take on the genre of still life, fusing organic and inorganic materials to form unexpected results. In these images, one truly comprehends the flower as the perfect union of form and function.
The flowers of Hyères are magnified and recorded carefully by Frotin’s camera. Only one plant ever occupies the frame, and each individual plant’s colors and shapes are heightened with the use of vividly colored graduated backgrounds that glow and pulse with energy. The recontextualization of the flowers momentarily confounds but then becomes clear to the viewer, evoking a feeling Freud described as “strange strangeness.” Removed from their natural matrix, isolated in an artificial field of color and captured for posterity, Frotin’s flowers are the converse of traditional notions of their ephemeral beauty in nature.