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James Lester

 
I have never been to Leeds, the birthplace and residence of James Lester, photographer. To say the least the nature of his photographs paint a curious picture.

 

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Justin Gibbens’ Striking Watercolors Add A Beautiful, Symbolic Twist To Animal Portraiture

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Washington artist Justin Gibbens combines his training in both scientific illustration and traditional Chinese painting to envision new animals and create a new take on nature in his paintings. These paintings, rich in color and somewhat melancholic in content, exist in a time all their own. Gibbens received a bachelor’s in drawing and painting, then went on to complete a certificate for Scientific Illustration before studying Chinese painting in China. That, and further travel to the Asian continent, reflects many of the stylistic and color choices you see in his paintings. His work beautifully implements and unifies all of the niche skills he studied.

Gibbens creates work that is hard to describe. You can’t take your eyes off of it. The coloring is poetic, the symbology is striking and bold, the line work is subtle and delicate. There is something so simple and yet so involving in these compositions. They are completely encompassing.  They mean something to you, even if you cannot articulate what, there is a connection. Perhaps it is the austerity of the animals and birds, their graceful poses, perhaps it is the subdued tones, or even the archaic setting: like it is not just a depiction of a bird flying, but a study of the entire history referenced within the ephemeral gesture of a wing, a bee, a last breath. These works are layered in meaning; and there are many tiers to explore in search of the words for your own story or his, or you can just step back and appreciate these paintings for the beauty of what they are.

As said on his artist statement: “Gibbens’ stylized and embellished beasts speak of evolution, mutation and biodiversity, and perhaps serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves. By lifting the formal conventions of classic natural science illustration, Gibbens imagines legendary and diabolical beasts through the lens of a 19th century field artist.”

To see his current show, “Avatars and Shapeshifters,” which will be up through September 27th in Seattle, go and visit PUNCH Gallery.

(Excerpt from Source)

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Ben Quilty’s Rorschach Portraits

I’m loving these juicy rorschach oil paint portraits by Australian painter Ben Quilty. He also has a variety of other paintings on his site including some of the most lush paintings i’ve seen in a while of car wrecks.

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Mark Hunter Brown: The Future History

Mark Hunter Brown is a truly dynamic individual.  I have known Brown for the better part of a decade, and I am relatively positive that I will never meet another person quite like him.  With each day functioning more like the next chapter in a bizarre novel, his zest for life is infectious.  Luckily, Brown is also an amazing artist, and has managed to document his interests and experiences through countless drawings and paintings.  Though he gains inspiration from his travels, the work is not limited to the places and people he has actually interacted with.  Brown is also heavily influenced by the written historical accounts of different cultures and people, but the work is not about visually representing his source material.  Instead, he chooses to focus on the importance of the moments recorded history has chosen to ignore.  There is this dead zone in between the great scenes of history that also warrants consideration, and Brown is keenly aware of this.  When asked why he is drawn to this type of situation Brown replied, “because life doesn’t look like a Delacroix painting – it’s just people walking around and eating sandwiches. These moments seem more real to me…they’re equally compelling.”

While these scenes are not infrequent in his work, Brown’s practice is not limited to this type of subject matter. There is far less literal material in Brown’s oeuvre, and his vivid imagination becomes readily apparent when looking at paintings of huge figurative fortresses or anthropomorphized coo-coo clocks snorting bones off of a table.  When viewed in context these paintings start to function as some sort of bizarre allegory, but their meaning is never explicitly stated.  There is such a rich diversity in the distinctive worlds that Brown creates, and no piece is less detailed than the last.  Whether he is teaching at Columbia, backpacking through Morocco, or boar hunting with monks in the Italian countryside – the need to process the world into visually compelling images has remained consistent within Brown’s life.  Lucky for us, his mind seems to function like an endless supply of Google image search results that I have no desire to stop looking at any time soon.

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Zhe Chen Documents Her Own Self-Harm

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Zhe Chen‘s confessional photographic series “The Bearable” has spanned a few years (2007 – 2010) and is a deeply personal journey of her own experiences with self harm. Her frank photos are very confrontational as she forces us to examine our own comfortability with such a terse subject. The close ups of bruised and battered skin, weeping nipples, bloodied and soiled sheets are not easily digestible images. In fact they are so hard to ignore, and are so powerful, that they immediately break down the taboos of any open discussion surrounding this subject. She says this about her work:

‘I hope my photographs inquire upon society’s prejudice and preconception towards this community, and not become illustrations or pictorial evidence for the topic at hand: every subject is an individual, not just ‘one of them’ – his or her life cannot be predicted or dictated by any constructed social code or notion. Depression plants the seed of introspection. I hope a first glance of my work conveys the idea of secrecy and sentiments, under which lies information awaiting exposure and recognition: like an index page pointing towards all the unanswered questions.’ (Source)

The L.A. based, Chinese artist teamed “The Bearable” series of her own self-mutilation with another, titled “The Bees“. Approaching the same subject from a different angle, she features a marginalized group of people in China who are so downtrodden and alienated that they feel the need to express their emotional oppression outwardly on their own bodies. Understanding the need for self-harm is such a complex story that most people tiptoe around, Chen wants to put it directly in front of us and see how we react.(Via Feature Shoot)

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Amy Lombard Documents The Bizarre World Of Live Animal Shows

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Amy Lombard - Photography

Photographer Amy Lombard is no stranger to the fringe cultures. Last year, she attended Bronycon in Baltimore (previously featured on B/D here), where she captured some of the festivities. During the year, she also frequented different animal shows and photographed who and what she saw there. The result comprised a series titled, Welcome to the Show.  The types of animals range from cats, dogs, lizards, horses, and bugs. Lombard not only documents the animals, but their owners, and the relationship to one another.

The shows she attended are not the likes of the Westminster Kennel Club. Instead, they appear to be local and amateur. Since we don’t know what the context is of the shows, it makes the photographs all the more alluring. Some seem to double as pet shops (it’s only $5 for a painted hermit crab). Her style is candid, and her subjects not posing for the camera.  Instead, they go about their business of show, looking, buying, and selling.

Welcome to the Show is the documentary of a niche interest. It’s not particularly glamorous, but is interesting and amusing. Lombard’s eye captures subtleties like small, amusing moments. A dog is wearing a skirt (or apron) with a $1 bill tucked in it. There are numerous people that look like their pets, which doesn’t seem surprising at an event like this.

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Liam Crockard

Liam Crockard

Canadian sculpture and photography artist Liam Crockard who uses a Tumblr for his portfolio. I like this idea.

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Book Artist, Jody Alexander

WRAPPEDWORDS001 I am in awe of Jody Alexander… one could spend hours sifting through a single work by this book & installation artist. Librarian by day, book & installation artist by night, the Santa Cruz artist is incredibly detailed in her execution – teetering on the obsessive – and sparks in the onlooker, a childlike curiosity.

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