The woodlands, backyards and mountain fields David Hornung paints can feel like elegies for lost friends. Conversely, much of the work is contagiously, imaginatively playful. These paintings can be read in contradictory ways; simultaneously flat and deep, both graphic and luminous. Hornung does this purposefully, because “picture making can be as paradoxical as life itself.” The invented settings evoke “memory, the flow of time, and, for lack of a better phrase, the sheer enigma of existence.” The light breaking on the horizon in “To S.P.” (above) is both beautiful and heartrendingly sad. What does it say about us when a sunset begs to be personified? You can see David’s work at Flowers Gallery in Chelsea from June 30 to July 31.
I found Finish painter Timo Vaittinen while browsing The Company of People (international community art project based in New York). Mystical centaurs, hot dogs on a grill, and weird people in creatures-of-a-furry nature outfits sound like a lot of fun…it also sounds like my birthday party (happening right now!)
Scott Greenwalt is an Oakland-based painter whose mixed media works walk the line between geometric order and gruesome chaos. His palette often resembles that of our most decay-prone biological structures and fluids: the dirty beige of crumbling skulls, the electric pink of strained arteries, and the bright green of runny mucus. His compositions exist within empty landscapes or without any background context at all. And it should be hard to look at his work for too long. It hits so hard that we should be running for the hills. Instead, probably due to his immense level of skill, it’s hard to look away. Peep some recent work from the artist below.
Breaking up is hard to do. And, if executed via text message, it can be even harder.
In her solo exhibition, “It’s Not You,” artist Allison L. Wade explores the proliferating plague of the break-up text. Featuring much-anticipated new additions to her acclaimed series, “Break-Up Texts,” this exhibition once again draws inspiration from the artist’s own love life.
Presented as blocks of text set against painted and photographic backdrops, the text messages featured in “It’s Not You” include those both “sent and received by the artist during dissolving personal relationships.” Citing irony as the basis of her series, Wade’s seemingly arbitrary selection of backdrops—spanning solid, lurid colors, computer-generated gradients, and peculiar images lacking context—emphasize the level of detachment present in the modern-day break-up text.
By pairing emotionally-charged, life-changing words with generic, ambivalent backgrounds, Wade successfully demonstrates the inherent disconnect between break-up texts and the emotions that prompt them.
While some of the text messages featured in “It’s Not You” are bizarrely comical (“Sorry I have been out of touch this week. There was a snow storm and I have been watching movies”), others are undeniably poignant, such as the bleak declaration, “I knew you would do this to me.” Whether silly or sad, it is certain that, as individuals in the 21st Century, there is a break-up text we can all relate to. (via Rick Wester Fine Art)
Check out “It’s Not You” now through January 10, 2015 at New York’s Rick Wester Fine Art!
Looking at Ivan Alifan‘s sexually charged paintings is like watching a private orgasmic moment that we haven’t asked permission to see. His series “It’s not Milk” is a very intimate look at desire, allure, the gaze, and the underlying sexual subtexts of images. His models are captured in the middle of a blissful state and are all covered in what looks like semen, or some sort of bodily fluid. Alifan deliberately paints his subjects with their eyes closed, lips slightly ajar, heads tilted away from the viewer’s gaze, turning them into a submissive object of desire. Alifan says of his intent:
“To have a painting that can exist as an alluring object and shift into an eroticized figure disarms and naturalizes the modern gaze; decriminalizing sex in art. Whether an individual sexualizes the figure, or becomes embarrassed and nervous by the mere suggestion, this is all a process which occurs independently from the painting.”
He says he is less interested in accurately portraying physical characteristics, but rather creating a certain physiological effect from these visceral paintings. He wishes to capture an ambiguous figure where the focus is on how the viewer reacts to viewing them.
Other than his intimate portrait series, he also dowses full bodies in this goo and places them within a surreal setting. Naked male bodies are carrying out sexually suggestive actions, poised in either a pre, or post-coital state. Surrounded by quite childlike, or non-threatening objects (miniature tress, toy cows and tiny houses) these figures try to entice the viewer into entering their world. Alifan is definitely a master of temptation and seduction, and all we have to decide is how we feel about it.
Michael Pietrocarlo is a photographer whose solemn photos of abandoned buildings capture the beauty of ruin and the renewing power of decay. Three series are featured here: Rust Belt, Forlorn Faith, and Unmanned Posts. Rust Belt explores the communities of Buffalo, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, which struggled during the economic turbulence of the 1980s; Forlorn Faith shows us vast spaces of spiritual worship left in decline; and Unmanned Posts guides us through the dust and stillness of the Bethlemhem Steel Admin Building, which closed in 1982. In his images, Pietrocarlo both shocks and stirs the imagination by revealing what happens when places once invested with love, energy, and hope are neglected; windows break, ceilings crack, paints peels. They become breathless ghost spaces, engraved with memory and mystery, breaking down and moldering in silence.
As these photos show us, however, there is beauty in deterioration; skeletons of industry and worship become tangible links to the past, signifiers of a passion and a hope that has preceded us. Decay becomes the passage to renewal, both personal and shared. As Pietrocarlo explains further:
I am drawn to the mystery of spaces where longevity has defied significance: forlorn constructs ravaged by nature, time, and the boundaries of ruin. I discover and appropriate these “found places” in my photographs to expose the brutal beauty of their (inevitable) decay, exploring contrasting themes of transience/permanence, deterioration/renewal, and abandonment/reclamation.
[…] Above all, these acts of discovery and documentation help me confront my own struggles with mortality in an attempt to illustrate artistry in dereliction, hope in obsolescence, intimacy in emptiness. (Source)
Liu Zhi Yin, an emerging artist from China, recently earned her Masters at the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts and has been exhibiting her sculptures in group shows. Liu Zhi uses fiber glass or bronze to construct sculptures of female characters that exude humor, but more than anything else, femininity in every sense of the word. Regardless of either awkward pose or expression, the movement and form of her pieces executes the constant sophisticated finish.
Alexandra Levasseur’s complex paintings are filled with emotion and beauty. With heavy brushstrokes dripping with color, she creates scenes of tormented women in a strange world filled with golden halos, burning asteroids, and melting faces. These faces depict a deathly pale beauty that is often transformed and altered by thick globs of color or all encompassing flora. Levasseur explores themes of love and fear, anguish and unsatisfied desire in her body of work.
I am interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. I question the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind.
Her women are set in scenes of rolling hills of flowers and palpable paint amongst other wilderness. However picturesque the setting may seem, there is a sense of distress and loss. Some of the women lie in a lush, colorful sea of flowers, but still have a look of distress on their face. There is repeatedly a flaming asteroid in the background, implying an impending doom. Levasseur beautifully portrays these women full of emotion, with an inevitable tragedy behind their eyes, if they even have eyes at all. Many of the faces have eyes hiding behind strokes of color, or holes where their eyes used to be. Each woman, beautiful in their own right, is lost and being engulfed in her equally as beautiful surroundings. All of the seeping colors, crushing flora, and heartbreaking women become meshed together in Levaseur’s paintings. She represents this world as a single organism, blending color and form.
Alexandra Levasseur’s solo exhibition Body of Land is on view now at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco.