Let’s hop into the mind of Washington DC based artist, Emily Hoxworth. At the core of each of Emily’s pieces, as she states on her portfolio site, is an interest in biology, but specifically the idea that the core of our biological purpose is to reproduce our genetic material. This greater purpose, Emily explains, is a starting point for her explorations which largely take the form of alternative, narrative, worlds. The imagery is a bizarre mashup of mythology, nature, and medical illustrations. The result – a kind of psychedelic series of landscapes and scenes that are very much alien, yet somehow familiar – I like to speculate that these images are akin to the scenery we might experience upon birth. A kind of visual experience that is forgotten upon arrival. Check out more of Emily’s work after the jump.
Charlie Roberts recent exhibition at Richard Heller showcased a contemporary double-take on old European salon style exhibitions. His subject matter sifts through the sheer availability and prevalence of, signs, symbols and iconographies present in today’s visual landscape. Roberts notes, “the groups of things isolated on blank pages started as a sort of excercise or study to ween my hand and eyes off using photographs to paint figures from in my paintings, and over time they became a end in themselves, a way to make a painting with out.” Organized in loose, self-devised groupings, in a pseudo-scientific faux-taxonomical manner Linnaeus would be proud of, Roberts draws parallels between hundreds of gestures and ideas. The result are images that look like they could be pulled straight from vintage Audobon Society botanical illustrations. Yet with titles and conglomerations of groups such as “NYC Hip Hop,” “Gang Bangin’,” and themes such as obsessive object collecting and Scientology, Roberts depicts not the wildlife of geographic and biological discovery, but bravely explores our digital, information-soaked New World.
Somehow along with doing Beautiful/Decay, making my own art and occasionally sleeping, I have also been teaching a class called “Exploring The Los Angeles Art Scene” at UCLA for the last six months. The word “teaching” actually might be a bit misleading as we don’t meet in a classroom, and there are no tests or lectures. It’s more like a series of field trips that we take to some of the most exciting galleries, artist’s studios, and collections in and around Los Angeles. We meet at a new location on the first Saturday of every month and get an insiders view into some of the major (and aspiring major) players in the LA art scene. I never bothered posting about the class on here but it occurred to me that it may be interesting to some of you out there in blog land.
Starting in January I’ll be teaching the class once again and visiting a whole slew of new galleries and artists all around town. There are around 25 slots for the class and half are already filled so If you’re looking for something fun to do on Saturday mornings sign up and join professor Amir!
Beijing based fraternal pair Gao Brothers have been collaborating on nstallation, performance, sculpture, photography works and writing now for three decades and shocking museums around the world with their guerrilla tactic art, one such featuring an apologetic Chairman Mao on his knees with a detachable head. Exhibitions by the Gao brothers, whose work the authorities find politically challenging, have been shut down in the past, and their studio has been raided. So they keep the head of Mao hidden in a separate location — reuniting it with its body only on special occasions to show friends and colleagues. Normally, the body of the statue remains headless, unidentifiable and nonthreatening.
I first got into Zach Johnsen’s work a few years ago when he lived in New York. But for a while now, he’s been in Portland, and it looks like he’s making his raddest stuff yet. He always incorporated fantastic characters into his mixed media work, and he’s continued to do so, creating more wooden cut-out installations and a series of graphite drawings infused with explosive watercolor elements. Johnsen’s always done a great job of rendering the darker side of life. His characters are full of dark eyes and yellowing teeth. Seriously awesome stuff from this dude, always.
Above: Jesse Wiedel in his Studio; Below: Jesse Wiedel "Frozen F", 2010
Today’s featured “Art Works Every Time” artist is Jesse Wiedel. Wiedel describes his unique blend of metaphysical trailer-park angst as “trashy yet mystical;” Wiedel finds the complexity in actions taken out of context and placed within a cheap motel, the dialectical meaning in the iconography of the van, the spiritual gesture of a face-shoving match, the hostility in a complacent family vacation portrait. His works are uncannily American, displaying a David Lynch-like curiosity in society’s two-faced duplicity, its simultaneous suburban superficiality and seedy underbelly. At once dark and humorous, Wiedel’s works startle and shock through their sheer familiarity.
Iron Grey Mammoth AKA Jairus Tonel presents some great mixed media work that combines cartoon icons from way back with current events. In the work above, Tonel is transforming the traditional republican elephant into “dumbo” a timeless disney character. This collision of conceptual and physical materials works together with current events to create something very relevant, thought-provoking, and comical.
Kevin Dowd creates photo collages that examine the familiar in surreal environments. An amusement park ride is suspended in mid-air; the lonely peak of a roller coaster ride frames a mysterious moon. His artwork resonates with emotional meaning, evoking feelings of uncertainty and isolation. By using the totems of our childhood — brightly colored balloons, swings, and theme park rides — Dowd also calls up a sense of unsettling nostalgia.
This is no coincidence. One of his collections is called Technostalgia: a pair of balloons tethered to a telephone pole, at odds with a wisp of cloud in the background that could either be coming or going. The artist’s intent is to examine “the nature of communication, the analogous methods of wired transmission, sound and even thought.”
Dowd is a thoughtful artist who has grand metaphorical meanings behind his work. Field Day: Ascent, the collage of children on swings rising into the sky, is meant to “capture sensations of awe and beauty, while recognizing the tentative nature of such experiences.” The photos of the roller coaster, named Babel I and Babel II, “explore the hubris of man.”
Whether or not the viewers grasp those exact interpretations, though, Dowd’s work still stirs up feelings of traveling to times and places long gone. (h/t I Need a Guide)