Derek Albeck has a magical way of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. Using only pencils, a bit of paint, and masterfully honed traditional portrait techniques, Albeck creates pieces that are anything but traditional.
Frequently working from snapshots taken in his daily life, Albeck amplifies the expressions and motions of his subjects, revealing the completely comfortable, unguarded, and usually hilariously unflattering parts of ourselves that manifest most intensely in candid photos taken seconds too soon, or when chemically compromised. In fact, much of Albeck’s work is characterized by a sort of “magic brownie effect,” turning mundane, common symbols, people, and objects into mesmerizing sources of irresistible humor. His eye for details — like the logo on a beer can, the crinkle of a flag, or the cover of a book by Aleister Crowley – capture escapist fantasies, moments of carefree bliss and rebellion that appear at once precious but fleeting, intensely personal but universally familiar. In Albeck’s world, a pile of dirty laundry becomes an eerily expressive smiley face, a cheeky rainbow forms the frown of an aptly titled “Sad Murderer,” and a skull with hypnotic eyes, comprised of the floating heads of the happiest, goofiest people you’ve ever seen, leaves you giggling in a trance-like state for hours. This happiness proves contagious as you find yourself smiling back at the bearded, flannel-clad man collapsed in a joyful stupor beneath a rainbow in a drawing called “Have a Great Day Forever.” And with an attitude that makes us want to do just that, Albeck’s work provides a fresh viewpoint with which to view, and laugh at, everyday life.
Benjamin Marra, perfecter of awkward angles and radical tangents and exploding heads and 80’s boobies, recently re-visualized American Psycho in a crisp Pettibon-ish series of drawings. They provide a nice contrast to the way Marra often works his comics, which tend to be explosively high-speed and feverishly paced. He excels at both approaches, and further proves why he is one of the best action comic artists out there. Get deeper, read his blog, visit his website, frequent his webstore, and amazingly, you can buy a bunch of his comics, released from his very own Traditional Comics, for only 16 bones. I bought ’em. You?
If ever a designer could be labeled Cult Couture, Aoi Kotsuhiroi would be it. Kotsuhiroi’s “body objects” blur the line between fashion and fine art, with each handmade, one-of-a-kind piece embodying a sense of primal energy, like relics of an ancient gothic warrior tribe. Through her juxtaposition of precious materials like cherry tree wood, phantom crystals, and pit-fired porcelain with once living, borderline grotesque elements like human and horse hair, lacquered horns, and elephant, buffalo, and crocodile leathers, Kotsuhiroi breathes animalistic life into her wearable sculptures, imbuing the wearer with a spirit of strength, mystery, and a little bit of danger. Her most recent collection, entitled “Exotic Regrets,” is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece, featuring talon-shaped rings that could double as primitive weapons in an end of the world showdown, and a pair of sinewy, scorpion-like shoes which give new meaning to the term “killer heels.”
Los Angeles-based artist Ken Garduno studied illustration at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, graduating in 2006. Since then, he has been hard at work as a freelance illustrator and gallery artist. His paintings and illustrations are one part psychedelic, one part the occult, a pinch of old-timey goodness, and flavored to taste with science fiction. The end product? Delicious.
Emma Löfström is a Swedish illustrator and artist whose work is eerie, narrative and has an otherworldly depth. Each of her pieces has this air of mystery behind it with subjects ranging from nature to magic to surrealistic creatures. Some of her works seem like a storybook which I for one would be enamored to get my hands on.
The work of Laurent Craste lies at the crossroads of two mediums. It participates in the world of visual arts, but never crosses its borders. This is explore in his use of ceramics. The form, linked by tradition to crafts, requires a technical knowledge and know-how so restrictive that artists are prompted to remain within canonical forms, never pushing their limits. In this series of ceramic sculptures, Craste has used porcelain vases, representative of certain upper class tastes, and laid into them with a variety of blunt objects, essentially critiquing the fusty conservatism of both this group and the medium itself.