Referring to both vulnerability and impermanence, Suzanne Jongmans’ investigates the texture and feel of both the present and past. Since 2007 she has been working on the series ‘foam sculptures’: caps and collars, inspired by 16th and 17th century Flemish and Dutch “Golden Age” paintings, made from materials currently used for packaging and insulation (cheap material which is often discarded after use). By using these materials Jongmans makes a reference to consumerism and the rapid circulation of materials. Jongman transforms old costumes into new plastics and old masters into new photographic works. By using time foreign materials, plastics and techno’s, she is creating a time crux, a tension of time for all of us to enjoy.
London based photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten’s three part project centering around teenage girls tells the surreal story of the transition of teenage girls into womanhood. Each shot captures the lives and feelings of young girls as they change from relative innocence to a heightened awareness of their future adult life. For all of the images Batten chose to street cast girls for her models. Deliberately avoiding the use of professional models. Julia states that the slight awkwardness of her untrained models emphasizes the freshness and naturalness evident in her images.
Ione Rucquoi’s visceral portraits capture a world of lost innocence and sexual awakening, exploring the disowned, unconscious aspects of the self and highlighting the primal instincts of the human character and the beast within. Rucquoi’s affinity with Jung’s psychological concept of ‘The Shadow’ allows her to move effortlessly among the symbolic and darker characteristics of the psyche. Driven by the motivation to make emotion visible through the physical, she explores fundamental elements of human existence and experience: birth,death, loss and change, and brings the hidden and taboo to the forefront.
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.
The exhibition “Baker’s Dozen” will be opening this Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Torrance Art Museum. The show is a really great survey of some of Los Angeles’s best & brightest contemporary artists- if you haven’t seen the works by the artists exhibiting here yet, you no doubt will soon–many of them have been making some waves around the So Cal art scene for a while. Don’t miss this show if you’re in the area! To give you a taste, I’ve included (no pun intended based in any way off the image above) selected works by my personal faves after the jump including Allison Schulnik, Tia Pulitzer, Jared Pankin, Aragna Ker and Mark Dutcher. The brilliant Eric Yahnker featured above. For the other half of the baker’s dozen, you’ll just have to check out the show yourself!
From Carnival in Haiti to West African Masquerade, Phyllis Galembo has seen it all. Humanity has always had such a fascination with dressing up–with becoming someone else for even a short period of time–that these costumes and the rituals associated with them play an important role in these societies’ cultural textures. Galembo photographs these moments in which people become magical, steeped in the symbolism of their dress. So, what does it say about us if our definition of costume is a sexed up, polyester sailer/nurse/bunny?