John Pham is most well known for his Graphic Novel Anthology Sublife as well as his work on Cartoon Network’s Problem Solverz. His personal work consists of vibrant gouache paintings that simultaneously reference modern design ethics and vintage computer imagery. Pham’s Tron –like environments exist as streamlined versions of Atari 2600 graphics.
Seattle painter Jesse Higman is the creator of a world where everything shimmers on an exaggerated scale, either macroscopic or microscopic. With the use of “Illuvium,” Higman creates within his paintings an affect of an unmistakably organic, earthly feel. Using masonite as a canvas, Higman dilutes acrylic paint mixed with mica flakes and pours the paintings onto the canvas, which is weighted to allow a slope which the paint will travel to. Illuvium, a geological term referring to the way particles settle on flood plains, is really about the art of these mica flakes settling along their course. The resulting textures are planetary, cell-like, while the mica flakes grant a shimmering presence that breathes life and density into his work.
Looking at his paintings, which are large, you see that they could be of many things: an aerial view of a retreating tide from a network of grasslands, cells and tissue seen under a microscope, the nearly mythical creatures that live in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean, the terrain of another planet, a spray of blood, the moon.
What is interesting about this method is the active role that time and chance play in his work. Higman casts a single gesture, pouring the paint in a certain direction on a chosen part of the board, and then, for the most part, the painting is out of his hands. The mica flakes travel and settle on their own accord, an outcome that cannot be calculated or predicted.
Higman sums up the importance of his process:
“As I sit with a cup of paint in my hand, on the edge of a blank board that took days to set up, I try not to lurch forward like a horse into the stream. I promise to take more time to see how the water is flowing before I move. Once I begin, there is no stopping. Pouring over the same place twice creates craters and destroys the quietly settling particles. Investing too much energy into the system creates aberrations like cancers. I find that curiosity, confidence and play leads to beauty.” (source)
British artist Oliver Jones scrutinizes the media and its impact on self image for his newest exhibition titled, Love the Skin You’re In. If that phrase sounds familiar, that’s because it was an advertising slogan for Olay beauty products. Jones specifically draws from these industry campaigns and pairs them with photorealistic chalk-pastel drawings to demonstrates what these phrases do in shaping our ideals of beauty.
The large works feature zoomed-in portraits of faces as they’re doing something that’s directly tied to making themselves look better. We see an older woman wearing a facial mask while a doctor is examining the wrinkly skin around her eyes. A relatively young-looking man is about to undergo the knife as his forehead is marked with a plastic surgeon’s pen. While that’s more extreme, Jones reminds us that even something as simple as laying cucumbers over your eyes is a way of obtaining society’s defined “beauty.”
“Capturing both the translucency and fragility of the skin’s surface, Jones’ drawings scrutinize subtle variations, colorations and superficialities. The meticulous and time-consuming process by which the artist creates his work is in direct contrast to the immediacy of imagery captured in today’s society, and negates the rapid pace at which we are accustomed to consuming images.”
German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib creates his installations from natural materials displayed in very unnatural ways. In “Pollen from Hazelnut,” Laib collected pollen from the area around his studio for over 23 years. In the gallery, he carefully sifted the rich yellow powder into a saturated rectangular field. He says,
“I wanted to have this very intense, concentrated experience … with the pollen. So, the meadow with flowers where I collect the pollen is something very different from how you see it here, a real concentrated experience without any distractions, nothing else.” (Source)
Traditionally, conceptual art is primarily concerned with ideas—aesthetics are mainly disregarded. Laib’s pollen fields are unusual in that they have a strong conceptual basis, yet they’re also lovely and striking. The geometric shapes, as large as 380 square feet, have been described as a “vast luminous field of color” and “a blanket of pure pigment.”
Interestingly it is in the collection of the pollen and the amassed pollen itself where Laib finds the most meaning. The sifting onto the floor is almost irrelevant to him. This exchange is from an interview in The Journal of Contemporary Art
Ottmann [interviewer]: Your pollen pieces are for sale. If a collector wants to own one how exactly does that work?
Laib: He buys three jars of pollen and it’s his choice of keeping it in the jar or to get rid of his furniture and spread it out on the floor.
Ottmann: Would you go to his home and do that?
Laib: Yes, but of course I would be even happier if he would do it himself.
Some critics of the work are concerned with Laib’s “waste” of natural materials. This is not a concern for Laib, who, although he works with natural materials, does not consider himself a naturalist. It’s important to remember that the pollen is gathered by hand over a long period of time, not mass harvested, denuding the environment in one obscene swoop. From concept to exhibition, every aspect of Laib’s work displays patience, precision, and peace.
Read more about Wolfgang Laib on PBS’s wonderful Art21 website and look out for his episode airing soon!
Pop over to Leanna Lin’s Wonderland at 5024 Eagle Rock Blvd. on July 27th from 6-10pm. On the main gallery wall Leanna Lin’s Wonderland + Rooney Hardwick present Glitz & Pixie Stix “sugar plum dumpling rainbow faces with freckles on top”. 18 artists will be exhibiting whimsical paintings, mixed media art and plush, along with Center for the Arts Eagle Rock (CFAER) student “Clay Jammers” ceramics art! A portion of the art sales will be donated to the CFAER “Imagine Studio”, which is an after school enrichment program bringing arts back into the LAUSD. They currently serve 11 elementary and middle schools in the Northeast Los Angeles.
Have you checked out this zine by Howie Tsui called “Of Shunga & Monsters” ? It’s a collection of Howie’s mixed media collages that he started working on during his residency at Islands Fold in the summer of 2007. chock full of bizarre, morphing, detailed drawings!
It’s printed in an edition of only 100 so make sure to pick up your own copy now!
Javier Galindo, an artist of many talents, uses ready-made objects to create an interesting narrative that comments on possessions we value. By nature, humans are collectors. So much so, that we even have an entire T.V. series dedicated to this hoarder phenomenon. In Galindo’s series The Incomplete Tour, he creates objects that mimic, question, and alter keepsakes and mementos often collected by travelers and tourists. Specifically, he references “The Grand Tour,” a trip that many youth would take during the 18th century across Europe. The purpose of this journey was to gain knowledge of the Western world’s cultural history and to be exposed to its many treasures, such as classical antiquity. To preserve their memories, as we often do today, they would collect souvenirs. Galindo’s question is, what is this memento actually worth? It is by no means an original; it is just a fragment or a trace of what was experienced.
Influenced by classic antiquities, Galindo’s series transforms and skews these fractures of remembered treasures. The series is comprised of a wide variety of mediums including cast plaster and oil paint, as it also is included two-dimensional and three -dimensional works. Focusing on portraiture, the once traditional portraits and busts are now sliced and stacked, skewed by paint, or literally cut out of their frame. In a world where we are obsessed with documenting every moment through digital photos, it is interesting to see a reference to a time where the only way to keep the moment with you, was through collecting physical souvenirs. A photograph is like a still memory, a fragment of an event that can often warp the true memory. Just like a photograph, Galindo’s mementos are just fragments of the whole; they are hints of a narrative further skewed by Galindo’s artistic eye.
Thanks to everyone that made it out to our screening of Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton documentary screening last night at Space 15twenty. The screening was a great success, with great summer time weather and comfy beach chairs to relax on. All the seats were filled within minutes and a few troopers even stood for the entire length of the movie!