Lisa Alonzo’s sugary technique obscures a dark symbolic core. The images are beautiful and the technique is divine. In fact, the technique is a refinement of one of the high points of Modern painting, Pointillism, and Alonzo adds another, almost hysterical layer to Seurat’s Le Grande Jatte, by combining the beauty of Pointillism’s ballet of color with the designer frosting florets of a confectioner. According to the press release from Claire Oliver Gallery, that excess of beauty, when compared with the otherwise violent or mundane subjects, a hand grenade, a gun, a beer can, is a critique aimed at consumer desire. As a painter who has often struggled with acrylic painting, I was really impressed by the freshness of these paintings. You can see Lisa Alonzo’s new work at Claire Oliver until April 26th. Photos courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery.
Photorealism, also known as Super-Realism, New Realism, Sharp Focus Realism or Hyper-Realism, involves artists employing photographs to create their paintings. The style evolved out of Pop art as a sort of resistance to Abstract Expression and Minimalism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Photorealist artists create works that are hyper illusionistic; compelling viewers to wonder and marvel at the work’s resemblance to reality. Employing a variety of techniques artists seek to generate paintings with a high level of representational verisimilitude. Photo realists use the camera or photographs to gather information. They may also rely on a mechanical device to transfer the image to the canvas, such as a projector, though the artist still requires a high level of skill to complete the work. Usually employing multiple photographs, artists involved with the style are interested in technical or pictorial challenges that might include unique surfaces or textures.
Pioneers of the movement include painters such as Richard Estes, Robert Bechtle and Tom Blackwell. One of the best-known photorealist painters, Chuck Close, works using a gridded photograph. A spinal artery collapse in 1988 left Close severely paralyzed. After the injury Close continued to paint, creating large portraits in low-resolution grid squares created by an assistant. From afar, these squares appear as a unified image, but in pixelated form.
Today there are a myriad of artists practicing photorealism including Jason de Graaf, Alison Van Pelt,Paul Cadden,David Kassan,Gregory Thielker,Diego Fazio, Bryan Drury and Ben Weiner . With the advancement of technology, contemporary photo realist artists are able to achieve paintings that exceed the capabilities of photography—capturing details the lens may not, or achieving an extraordinary level of precision. Often these photo realists are referred to as hyperrealists as the images resemble one, or an amalgamation of, high-resolution photographs. Inspiring and impressive, photo realists’ works tease the imagination and challenge perception.
Mike Shankman turns crumbling structures and abandoned buildings into arcane imaginary environments. In 2003, Mike also co-founded Million Fishes, a live/work arts organization in the Mission District of San Francisco. He also has an awesome last name. Find more at Shift Art Gallery.
We’ve covered Kris Kuksi’s Churchtanks series in the past, which invoked religion alongside symbols of modern warfare to create a curious blend of spirituality and the profane. “Ascension of Eos” is a more recent work, taking the exploration of larger than life mythos intersecting with the mortal coil.
Eos, the goddess of dawn in Greek mythology, or perhaps a statue of Eos rises up from a sea of humans. She’s being worshipped or built — or perhaps the two are one in the same. The humans around her are in a frenzy — some are tangled together in frantic sex, others are being crushed by wheels and impaled by arrows. Her congregation’s agony can just as easily be interpreted as divine ecstasy, and painted with a dark patine, the entire tableau seems truly gothic.
“I get inspired by the industrial world, all the rigidity of machinery, the network of pipes, wires, refineries, etc.,” says Kuksi. “Then I join that with an opposite of flowing graceful, harmonious, and pleasing design of the baroque and rococo.”
Beautiful, dark, and mysterious, Kuksi’s work contains tons of detail. It’s created through mixed media assemblage, which adds texture and physicality to the piece. At more than four and a half feet tall and three and a half feet wide, it looks almost like an altar or a memorial. (h/t Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Julie Heffernan‘s paintings take all the tropes of Northern Renaissance painting, combines them, and makes them into absurd works that feel like art history collages rendered by one of the masters themselves. She has a show coming up at the Mark Moore Gallery on November 3, so if you like what you see, make sure to check out her opening, it sounds great!
Jessica Eaton experiments with color, using it either sparingly, oddly (hue-wise) or in splashes. She uses geometric shapes, as well natural, turning simple things like circles and forests into something otherworldly.
Born into a long bloodline of creatives, illustrator Treasure Frey’s work of collage/ drawings is certainly something to watch for. Her work reminds me a lot of the awesome animations from Monty Python, except with the intricate combination of beautiful mark-making with varying line weights, loops, and brightly colored shapes, she has made a killer style of her own.