Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.
Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves, tides, and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.
I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.
Robert Larson uses discarded cigarettes packaging, matchbooks, and rolling papers to create his compositions. Somewhat reminiscent of Tom Fruin’s drug baggies, the artist creates abstract patterns from smoking paraphernalia, and turns the ugly and destructive act of smoking into something unexpectedly beautiful.
Larson finds the materials by scavenging neighbourhoods in Santa Cruz, where he lives and works. There’s an interesting play between personal and impersonal in his work. The consistent grid of the items, be it shiny packaging or used matches, gives a sense of the systemic nature of urban life, while their individual treatment – worn by weather or use – sustains a sense of individual experience.
Cigarettes are rarely if ever associated with beauty, at least in our moment. Certainly in the past they were glamourized, but happily, people are beginning to see quite clearly their highly detrimental effect. Still, they maintain a heavy presence, and it’s exciting to see something positive come out of a predominantly negative thing. Larson’s compositions are surprisingly colourful and dynamic. He has a good eye for placement, as in the Marlboro packaging where he distributes the various tones of grey-brown wear to radiate outwards from the middle of the work. His pieces are mostly quite large, reaching over six feet. It makes me wonder how long it would take him to collect his materials, which could give him some understanding of the smoking population of each neighbourhood he collects from.
The strange expressions in Laura Krifka’s figures exude a feeling of tension and surprise. The collection of paintings displayed in her latest show, “Reap the Whirlwind” at CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles, offer a tableaux of sexual awakening, youthful lust and rough mischief. Each character seems glazed over in some type of expensive plastic yet the narrative refers back to old masters such as Rembrandt and Boticcelli. This is part of the reason Krifka’s work is intriguing. It embraces a juxtaposition which is not often seen. The other is her painting ability.
A skilled technician, Krifka renders her weird realistic narratives of lustful desire with relative ease. Her placement of characters in the great outdoors lends a plein air quality which enhances her scenes of multiple partnered sexual encounters and voyeurism. At times the figures resemble renaissance blowup dolls which adds humor. Even though it mostly depicts sex, there is no real sensuality in the paintings , instead Krifka captures the awkwardness of adolescent awakening.
Accompanying the paintings in the show are a series of small sculptures and video. The sculptures are tiny and even though relate in narrative to the paintings, its characters look a bit more rag dollish. Well, maybe not a little but a lot more. This makes them even more intriguing. Actually, I believe these are models for the video, which isn’t accessible on the web. There is a still on the gallery’s website which does hint at this fact and one could conclude the video consisting of a sexualized rag doll version of Little House On The Prairie.
French muralist Seth Globepainter paints large, expansive scenes of people on the cusp of going some place else. The fantastical compositions feature young men and women whose heads are often in the proverbial clouds. Their bodies are obscured and half-hidden in another mysterious dimension that’s as easy to access as lifting a curtain.
These murals read as dreamscapes where the surreal and impossible happens. Everything is beautiful, nothing appears to hurt, and the color of the rainbow surrounds us wherever we go.
With their backs and side turned away from the viewer, it’s clear that Globepainter’s characters aren’t concerned about us. They’d rather make it to their next big adventure, or at least find out what’s behind that curtain. This creates a lot of intrigue, and we are founding asking questions about where they are going or what they’re leaving behind.
Often there is a thick line that separates the fact of human and animal conscience. Brad Wilson’s portraits demonstrate the profound character each of his animal subjects possess. Wilson is a commercial photographer used to working with human subjects. His lens creates a bridge between humanity and the animal kingdom, allowing us to contemplate the gap that is likely much narrower than we believe between ourselves and other living creatures. His photographs allow us to recognize ourselves within the animals, in some way, their humanity (although of course, not literally).
His experience in taking the photographs is extremely enlightening. Below are excerpts from a Bored Panda article.
“The animals engender an amazing sense of relationship that is primal in its roots and profound in the moment. I learned that they are what we, as humans, used to be: completely present in the moment and curious about the immediate enviroment around them, and living primarily through instinct and intuition.”
Tigers have quite a presence in the studio. There were some rather awe-inspiring, fear-inducing moments when you realized just how physically powerful they were. Overall though, with a camera in front of my face, I felt strangely removed from the environment around me. I was simply unaware of any intimidation or danger. Of course, this was a complete illusion, but it served me well.”
“I’m after something very specific – a moment where mood, composition, and stillness come together to reveal something uncommon and unexpected. I’m looking for unique connection to my subject that shows something deeper and more intimate to the viewer and treats the animals as equals, affording them all the respect and dignity I would offer any person in front of my camera. Hopefully this makes my series different from most other animal photography, but that’s ultimately up to each individual seeing the work to decide.”
Kent Rogowski has been hard at work on several different projects that flash a delicate sense of humor on the big question of identity. He is also the founder of Scaffold, a non-profit organization that gives fellowships to emerging and mid-career artists.