A portrait tries to capture the essence of a subject. By honing in on a solitary figure usually from the chest up, we’re able to delve into the eyes and see beneath the surface. There’s some seriousness involved because the traditional portrait is used to capture a visual record which can act as a long standing account of that subject. Taking this and flipping it, painter Austin Lee creates cartoon-like portraits of re-imagined people and animals. Bursting with neon color and loose line, his subjects have nothing to hide and let it all hang out. His work associates with characterture and gestural expression mostly ending up as vignette laden pictures.
With titles like Dunno, Mr. Worry, Facepalm, and Taboo the idea of community and friends surface as the subject for many of his pictures. In one, two figures appear in the front windshield of a car, the anticipation in their faces is that of a destination thay are unfamiliar with. In another, “Crush” a Mona Lisa type portrait peers out from a cabinet frame portraying someone the artist has a crush on?
Using a similar approach Lee creates heads out of 3D prints and acrylic paint. These look like self-portraits and capture certain aspects of his personality with the least amount of rendering. To some degree both his painting and prints reference minimalism in their quest to strip away and find the core of its subject.
I’m loving these works by Daniel Schlier on the Galerie Jean Brolly site. His grotesque collaged figures meld different painting techniques, materials, and disparate colors seamlessly with ease. I just wish I could read French or find more info on him and his work.
Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.
Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves, tides, and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.
I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.
As long as there have been artists, there have been people who recognized that the innovation and creativity of truly unique individuals should be nurtured. Beautiful/Decay Magazine is very pleased to announce its collaboration with the Canson & Royal Talens family of art supply brands on the Wet Paint Grants project.
Canson, Royal Talens and Arches have been manufacturing the highest quality art materials that inspire artists for centuries. Likewise, artists have been playing a key role in development of products that they make at their own mills.
Most recently, Canson and Beautiful/Decay teamed up to choose eight artists in the United States, who exemplify a passion and commitment to their craft. Over each of the next eight weeks, Beautiful/Decay will announce a new recipient of the Wet Paint Grant. Each artist chosen will receive a year’s worth of art supplies from any of the Canson family of brands. We hope the generosity of these grants will help each artist to leave limitations behind and produce the work that compels them. While the outside support of artists is an integral part of Art history, above all we congratulate and thank the artists, who are the impetus to brands like Canson, Royal Talens and Arches to continue encouraging the arts. Read about our first Wet Paint Grant recipient Wendell Gladstone after the jump.
Jesse Fillingham is an emerging illustrator who holds burgers, mythology, and unicorns close to his heart. His work holds a lot of energy, humor, and powerful storytelling. I especially love his series on mythological hunters.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Marci Washington. See the full studio visit and interview with Marci and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
We visited Marci in her backyard studio in Berkeley. It sits just behind her home, a kind of garage/storage space that got converted into a cottage. It’s comfortable and functional, with an open feel to it. Marci is full of gusto— she talks with her hands, takes on all kinds of facial expressions, and she’s funny as hell. She enthusiastically moved through our conversations, at turns awkward and eloquent, but always unguarded and real. We talked about a lot of things, but her affinity for the landscape of the English moorlands, particularly within the context of Romantic Literature, really struck me. Those rolling, uncultivated hills covered in low-growing grass, shrouded under heavy fog and moody skies have wholly captured Marci’s imagination. And it makes sense that they have— much of what interests Marci is mirrored in that rugged, desolate scenery. In various Romantic and Gothic works of literature, the moorlands often represent mystery, mysticism, liberation, turmoil, and passion; they frequently echo the psychological state of the characters, and reveal their greatest desires and fears. Marci’s current work references not just the physical landscape of the moors, but also speaks to themes found in a lot of this kind of literature, and the universal emotions that are evoked—all those feelings and ideas that run wild with mystery, awe, darkness, terror and beauty. I think Marci is after a particular kind of mood that toes the line between terrifying and thrilling, creating a response that’s simultaneously overwhelming and invigorating. All of this plays into her sensibilities as an artist, but also as a person: her love of Edward Gorey and his eerie illustrated books, her unflinching need to feel everything very deeply, her leanings towards the bizarre and unique, and her fondness for the not-entirely-explained. It’s pretty damn amazing that come November Marci will be showing work in England, not far from the wild and lonely moors that have taken up so much of her imagination.
It may be hard to believe, but these colorful creations of Jason Hackenwerth‘s are made from hundreds of balloons. He twists and sculpts latex balloons around each other to resemble different kinds of organic and biological forms. Hackenwerth creates all sorts of creepy shapes and forms that look like you are seeing something in a scientist’s laboratory magnified. Super colorful amoeba, cells, or rhizopods hang from the ceiling. Bacteria-shaped sculptures are grouped together, sprouting weird sorts of growths in every direction.
The artist is not only inspired by science – last year, Hackenwerth unveiled a large piece in Scotland at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Titled Pisces, it is an interpretation of the Greek myth about Aphrodite and Eros. Made from over 10,000 balloons, it was a massive twisting spiral of two fish and took three staff members almost 6 days to blow up. Hackenwerth says more about it:
I see this as a metaphor for the evolution for life and the unexpected ways we can transcend our greatest threats. My plan for Pisces is to create a complex spiral that will open into a huge seashell like form. This spiral will correspond with the dynamic with the motion of the universe – the double helix. It is the spiral from which all life is derived. (Source)
Hackenwerth starts his process with drawings and sketches to help visualize how his pieces will work on a large scale. He then inflates balloons and arranges them in various structures to see what will work for the final piece. He talks about the importance of his medium:
Using balloons as a medium for expression came from a desire to connect with a wider audience. Balloons are accessible and they seem to have a magic ability for people to feel joy. Perhaps it is a regression to childhood. (Source)