Stemming from a desire to challenge the conventions of traditional portraiture, Bryan Drury has carefully selected affluent members of society to sit for him, and rather than acquiescing to expectations of flattery, he exploits the power of oil paint to describe their corporeal flaws as precisely as possible. Finding liberation in this reversal of patronage roles, Drury focuses on the organic quality of the flesh and shows the animalistic side of humans that we so commonly attempt to conceal. The works feature a single subject, executed with a painstaking degree of realism. The small-scale portraits capture the condescending and supercilious attitudes of the sitters, who gaze at the viewer with an air of disdain. Set against solid backgrounds, the sitters seem separated from the outside world, and their lifeless artificiality imbues the works with a sense of isolation. In an attempt to expose their vanity and the disconnect that exists between the corporeality of the body and the abstraction of identity, Drury meticulously renders facial details, paying special attention to imperfections and blemishes. His skillful use of light and shadow in portraits highlights the contours of the sitters’ faces, while the subtle glossy backgrounds further accentuate the tactile nature of the skin and hair.
During the summer of this year a small group of people struggled to preserve a public park. Quickly the scope widened, crowds grew, and the underlying anger became about something much larger than a park. The demonstrations were considered to be widely peaceful. At times, however, emotions and force erupted with violence. Photographer Barbaros Kayan was on the ground to capture the unfolding protests. There is a subtle difference about his series Occupy Taksim that distinguishes it from much of photojournalism covering the events, a certain frank grittiness. Its almost clear from the images, the photographer is familiar with the city, intimate with the battleground.
Ted Vasin illustrates an intensely surreal world for his viewers to get lost into. Combining his tight representational drawing skills with colorful abstract forms, Ted succeeds in both keeping us in awe of his draftsmanship, and a little disturbed through subject matter.
The phrase “3D photos” seems like a bit of a contradiction, right? But no, Letha Projects has been making these amazing minimalist photo sculptures, taking plain pictures and translating them into a work of art that expands on their single dimensional forms. She also works with her flat photos by cutting and manipulating a mixture of color and black and white prints to create texture.
Alejandro Cardenas, based in NYC, creates watercolor and guache works in which stark, flat figurative elements blend seamlessly with abstract flourishes and branches of washed out color. Set amidst a deep black background, this work stands out well. Too often, water based media is used as a generator of quaint atmosphere; whimsical drawings that take up very little space on paper or canvas. Cardenas’ work, conversely, is bold and fully composed where others may have defaulted into paltry understatement.
Documentary photographer Nina Berman’s recent “Eat To Win” series is not for the faint hearted. Through her observation of eating competitions across the United States, she documents what she calls “the ferocity of consumption” and delves into the notions of frenzy and excess while depicting food as more than a necessary part of human survival. In these competitions, food becomes a source of competition, not in a necessary sense, but for entertainment. The series is comprised of close up of contestants, with their faces covered in food and savage expressions on their faces.
The competitions themselves unfold within 2 to 6 minutes, which underlines the way in which time is the most vital element of the competition. Berman’s photographs are interesting in the sense that she has chosen not to document the end result of the competition but the competition process in itself. This has resulted in a series full of intense facial expressions, a loss of manners and a visceral illustration of unbridled humanity.
Berman’s high definition close up allow you to step inside the world of eating competitions in an almost tangible manner, that brings you quite literally, face to face with the more disgusting side of being a human. She brings you into a high contrast world of overconsumption and excess and does not stray away from the greasy details. She places eating competitions at the junction of pleasure and pain, and by doing so establishes a subtle and somewhat humoristic critique of consumer society at its peak.
In the middle of the California desert (Slab City) there is a pretty cool collaboration and installation work checking out. Graffiti artist Christina Angelina has teamed up with Ease One to work on a impressive, emotional project called Kinetoscope. Taking over an abandoned water tank in the middle of a dusty plain, they have painted a massive circular mural reflecting on the ideas of women, intuition, gender, and the current zeitgeist.
Combining many different elements, the installation is a multi-sensory experience. After climbing up a 15 ft ladder, visitors then descend into the middle of the empty water tank to find themselves surrounded by larger than life faces and will hear amplified sound echo around the structure. While in the middle of the space and turning around, the visitor will experience a certain type of magic inspired by photographer Eadweard Muybridge. He was the originator of the Zoetrope – a machine and technique that animated still images, and would bring them to life, by quickly spinning them on a circular form.
The women’s faces Angelina has painted reflect on her own magical, personal moments when she has used her intuition – an attribute she feels is undervalued and overlooked by society. Additionally, she has painted a type of mysterious font around the border of the tank in a striking combination of Eastern and Western script. The words spell out lyrics to Society by Jerry Hannan and Eddie Vedder:
It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
You think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all you won’t be free
Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me
Kintoscope was sponsored by Starfighter Studios. They have kept a diary of sorts reading more into the experience of being based in the desert, away from society, while putting the installation together. You can read more of their insights here.
German artist Heike Weber creates paintings and drawings by utilizing techniques of heavy repetition. Some of these pieces are purely textural, like the blue ballpoint pen drawings (after the jump), though I think the ones I like the best are in his “Kilims” series, which seem to reference Eastern calligraphic styles.