Chris Mars packs his compositions with awesome texture and gruesome characters. With Todd Schorr levels of craftsmanship and imagination, these paintings warrant long viewing sessions. But good luck spending any extended amount of time among them without getting sufficiently creeped out. A lot more images at the artist’s website, which also features a soundtrack and in-depth writing from Mars on his sources of inspiration.
Lucy McLauchlan of Birmingham, UK has been painting on every imaginable surface for over ten years. She has created everything from large murals to graphics for baby clothes. She usually works in flat black and white, depicting birds, trees, and whatever strikes her fancy. Most recently, she’s put up a lot of public work in East London, celebrating the Olympic Games. McLauchlan’s subdued compositions don’t scream “look at me!” (a message proliferated by many “street” artists), but -instead- “look at this!”. Honest, pure beautification of our public urban space without any ego.
We often think of bodies as opposed to landscapes. The figure belongs to the portrait and natural scenery to the landscape – bodies inhabit the landscape. For Carl Warner‘s series of photographs, though, the bodies make the landscape. Twisting torsos, bent limbs, crevices, and folds are given finer than the typical attention. Layering of bodies and parts with such focus on detail create landscape like images. Mountains, caverns, and valleys seem to rise out of the figures and become a land of skin. [via]
Jered Sprecher makes paintings that do not fit neatly into any category. At first they look like geometric abstraction, but then you realize that there is something different about the surface, it’s brushy and the edges of the shapes aren’t dogmatically hard like other geometric paintings. In his broader body of work there are images peppered in among the abstract elements, but the images are sort of soft pictures with interruptions, like paintings based on a faded calendar that was exposed to too much light in a hallway. Sprecher’s paintings seem to accept the modern idea that paintings are things, that paintings are first and foremost flat sculpture. This train of thinking says illusions are a kind of deception, which they are. Modernism goes a little further by hinting that illusions are lies that are also moral defects. This aversion to illusion brought us abstract artists like the evangelical Donald Judd, the graceful openness of Helen Frankenthaler, and the philosophical diagrams of Peter Halley. Enjoying painting as a window into an illusory world is a “mistake” everyone made until the 1940s, when some smart people came along and told us to be careful about it. Modernists say any artwork that hides its true nature is a metaphor for misunderstanding life in a bigger way. Sprecher does not seem to completely buy the modernist talking points, and like a bad political surrogate goes off message on a Sunday talk show, saying “Yes, but… I always lie!”
You can see Sprecher’s newest work in his show I Always Lie at Jeff Bailey Gallery in Chelsea until March 23rd. Interview after the jump.
Evan Penny is a Toronto-based (South African-born) artist who makes human sculptures out of silicone, resin, hair, and pigment. In many ways, his works — especially those he produced in the 1980s (see “Jim”) — are hyperrealistic, with detailed skin textures and lifelike body postures and facial expressions. However, throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Penny began to experiment with abstraction, manipulating human proportions and forms to create flattened, stretched, and warped bodies that resemble optical illusions, troubling the perceptual line between digital manipulation and animated flesh. In his more recent works, Penny has implemented computer technologies to scan, distort, and re-scale the figure, which he then recreates by hand.
Two interrelated themes that Penny interrogates in his work include the passage of time and the ever-changing nature of self-perception. As he explores in his works “Young Self” and “Old Self,” for example, self-representation — indeed, identity — is a construction that is never stable; “time, memory, and desire” influence the way we appear and project ourselves to others (and ourselves) (Source). Penny’s work also explores the implications of image manipulation in the digital age, when photo editing and digital reality give us new means of constructing our self-representations, and indeed, evading the naturally-occurring inconsistencies of our real-life identities. As he stated in an interview with Canadian Art:
“With the digital, how we imagine ourselves in time has changed again. We’re starting to comprehend ourselves quite differently, and I’m not sure we fully understand how that is affecting us” (Source).
Despite the seemingly playful aspects of Penny’s sculptures, some of his artistic investigations are tinged with sadness as they grapple with the passage of time. “Jim Revisited” (2011), for example, is a recreation of his sculpture “Jim,” which was made in 1985, when his figures were still largely realistic. Jim was a friend of Penny’s who had passed away several years ago. What Penny seems to be achieving in the dialogue between these two works is a series of overlapping personal and artistic reassessments: an examination of the way time distorts memory, as well as how his own artistic practice — infused with years of experience and shifting emotions and new perspectives — has changed. You can read more about Penny’s thoughts on “Jim Revisited” here. Visit Penny’s website to see more of his work.