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.
Gary Taxali is a multi-talented designer, illustrator and artist. His playful style is reminiscent of the golden age of 1950’s advertising, where wholesome, larger than life characters such as the checkered suspendered, pompadoured smiling Bob’s Big Boy still reigned supreme (and were not ironic yet.) Taxali’s bold style has earned him dozens of clients, ranging from Rolling Stone, MTV, Lev’s and Converse just to name a few. Beautiful/Decay recently got the chance to interview Taxali.
Snaggs lives and works in Seattle. Inspired by stuffed Nauga Monsters from the 1960′s, she uses vinyl and felt to create pop culture monuments. Her Star Wars heads immortalize a time when action figures dominated and large character cases were made to organize a collection. She also frequently produces large Atari cartridge works that are ripe with nostalgia. In this increasingly digital age we are moving away from the days when packaging meant everything and a physical object was needed to entertain. By increasing the size of these cartridges she allows the viewer to perceive imagery from the 70’s and 80’s in a whole new way.
I found Tadashi Moriyama‘s work during Bushwick Open Studios this past June and fell in love with the intricacy and obsessive mark making process that is evident in each ink and gouache work. Each painting is rife with apocalyptic imagery rendered in countless repetitions of a few motifs including waffle-like gridded squares forming architectural structures and tubular wobbly connectors slithering in and out of buildings and bodily orifices.
French art director and photographer Patrice Letarnec combines his two talents when he devised this cleverly simplistic photoseries. Having his subjects switch their top and bottom clothes, Letarnec then has them stand on their hands, walking about upside down on their daily routes. Thus the title of the series, Head Over Heels, which is taken quite literally.
The results are subjects which look familiar at first, until a general unease sets in to the missing head, arms which are too long, and legs that are far too short. The orangutan-like subjects are more comedic than disconcerting, another win for Letarnec’s eye (who also deserves a bit of credit for finding subjects who can balance on their hands so well while blindfolded).
I could spend months staring at Alexandra Mackenzie’s ultra detailed drawings. Featuring tribal shamans, flesh eating wolfs, and tiny unicorns running around in balls of hair, Alexandra’s drawings have something for everyone. The only thing missing is that there aren’t more drawing on Alexandra’s site. While the drawings are in short supply she does have a great series of collage work that relate to the drawings in a very interesting way.