Cuban-American artist Cesar Santos thoughtfully blends disparate styles and elements in a series he calls “Syncretism.” Santos’ amalgamations present representations from Renaissance, Modern, Classic, and Contemporary work, all blended together to create a pastiche of imagery. While combining genres, forms, and time periods is not a necessarily unique approach, it is Santos’ execution that is most impressive. Skilled technically in multiple painting styles, Santos is able to render images that appear uncannily similar to their references. Recontextualizing these images demonstrates the evolution of painting techniques while maintaining the universality and persistence of particular themes.
“I develop a painting by first working on an idea in a sketchbook, a simple drawing. Then I go to Photoshop and start composing the painting. In a way it’s [how] a classical artist would do it: constructing a color study. Once I have everything composed, tweaking the colors, it will almost look like the final piece. Using oils on linen, I go about painting that image. During the process things change. When I start applying the colors, I start with a raw umber underpainting, and block it in with local color. Even though I’m using modern tools, the process is very classical.” (via juxtapoz)
With the innocent and untainted imagination of a child, Japanese artist Misaki Kawai thrills us with her collection of blockheaded animals and misshapen figures. Her own unique point of view is currently at critical mass and Kawai has turned into a kind of poster child for slacker art. Kawai first got her start selling zines, drawings and paintings on the streets of New York City and in true Basquiat fashion eventually caught the attention of a few local galleries. After exhibiting her colorful and engaging pictures she quickly gained mainstream recognition and began showing on the international art world circuit.
Kawai’s lastest project consists of a blow up doll pool toy made in collaboration with The Grey Area. The piece debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach this past winter where she also created a teepee installation at the Mondrian Hotel. Her oeuvre encompasses all media and as her celebrity grows we see her floating down a rockstar path which also includes diy merchandise. Some of the products for sale in Kawai’s tent include a series of pink fluffy art dogs in three sizes, pin and keychain. This is a faithful replicate of the arty doll she has exhibited on a massive scale all over the world at such diverse locations as the Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas , Museum of Contemporary Art Japan, Watermill Center in upstate NY, Malmo Konsthalle in Sweden, and many more.
Photographer Rachel Hulin’s photographs of babies floating through the air remind me of every classic painting ever made of small rosy faced babies floating through space with big lush white wings. Are these contemporary counterparts modern angels with invisible wings or is NASA training toddler astronauts? We may never know.
In a database called Photogrammar, Yale has just released 170,000 searchable photos of the Great Depression. Previously stored away in the government archives, these are the unseen images taken by great photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein, all of whom were assigned by the Farm Security Administration to document the effects of the declining economy on the population. The database consists of a nation-wide map with clickable counties, each one leading to a gallery of snapshots from the region. Using the information from the Lot Number and Classification Tags systems developed by Paul Vanderbilt in 1942, the collection is searchable by photographer, lot number, and subject heading.
The result of Yale’s efforts is a fully interactive and fascinating glimpse into America from 1935 to 1946. Photogrammar tells the story of the Depression as it has never been seen before; from east to west (and including Hawaii and Alaska), we see rural laborers and townsfolk navigating the daily challenges of economic turmoil; there are signs of the oncoming war, as well. Despite being separated by a vast geography, each image is joined by a similar backdrop of hardship, endurance, and recovery.
Click here to explore Photogrammar for yourself. (Via Gizmodo)
Japanese illustrator OneQ brings together East and West in his sexy illustrations. Pulling inspiration from both traditional Japanese comic book art and American pin-up photography, her work simultaneously has the feeling of being vintage yet contemporary through the combination of digital rendering techniques with classic pin-up poses.
Illustrator Raphaël Vicenzi, also known as Mydeadpony, combines watercolor, digital media, and typography in the creation of stunning and imaginative portraits. His female characters are a troubling (but fascinating) combination of darkness and light; washed in pastel colours, their seemingly innocent faces and figures are fragmented with images and words, from swords to jerrycans to obscure declarations of “wake up” and “wolves in the house.” These interposing objects cause the sensual apathy of the faces to fall away into a richer complexity.
When I asked Vicenzi about his creative process, he explained that it is very much driven by stream-of-consciousness: “my process is to start working on an illustration even if I am not sure where I am going.” He builds his pieces bit by bit, exploring and discovering them as if they were living entities. And while the results are beautiful and eclectic, Vicenzi admits that his art involves “a constant struggle, battling with myself about this or [that] decision.” However, the results are powerful, multimedia creations. “It’s worth it,” Vicenzi writes. “No pain no gain.”
Mydeadpony’s pieces speak to us with a familiar melancholy, as they explore the underlying nature of our emotional lives; beneath every face is an interplay of longing, pain, desire, anticipation, and nostalgia. The name “Mydeadpony” itself emerged from a photograph the artist found of himself: a child sitting on a white pony. Upon realizing the pony was long dead, this experience made him profoundly aware of the irreversible passage of time, and how we experience transformative loss and change at several points in our lives. This is the emotional, visceral core of Vicenzi’s work; hard to describe, but intensely palpable. Check out his website for a gallery of his pieces.