New York-based artist Samantha Keely Smith paints abstract landscapes that resemble the swirling, unknown depths of the ocean. Although Smith’s work appear to depict real sceneries, she is inspired by inner worlds- precisely, by the energies and colors that mirror the flux of emotions.
“My images are not at all real places or even inspired by real places. They are emotional and psychological places. Internal landscapes, if you will. The tidal pull and power of the ocean makes sense to me in terms of expressing these things, and I think that is why some of the work has a feel of water about it. My work speaks of things that are timeless, and I think that for most of us the ocean represents something timeless.”
Working with oil paint, enamel, shellac, and large scaled canvases, the artist creates grand works of art that feature multiple translucent layers of color, soft but large and imposing brushstrokes, and sweeping gestures that evoke crashing waves, surging tides, and stormy floods. ( via My Modern Met)
If you regularly tune in to Adult Swim, Austin based illustrator and animator Dax Norman‘s work may look familiar to you. Evoking a trippy aesthetic reminiscent of Mad Magazine and “The Yellow Submarine,” Norman’s gifs ooze and pulse with bright, fun energy. Citing classic and current influences and favorites such as Max Ernst, Man Ray, Van Gogh, Shel Silverstein, William Blake, Neil Anderson-Himmelspach, Reverend Bobby Anger, David Olive, and Joseph Noderer, Norman creates animations informed by popular culture and the world around him, as well as animations that represent strangely and wonderfully original characters, figures, and shapes.
Norman first started making gifs by re-purposing existing longer animations into loopable snippets, but as the form started to grow on him, Norman began creating original gifs, trying to finish a new one every day. He creates both 2D and 3D animated gifs that deal with alternate and multiple perceptions of reality. Of his animations, Norman says, “I see them each as ‘little paintings,’ or ‘picture poems’ each with its own universe of movement…Playing with the looping idea, and rhythm, is what appeals to me the most. Hopefully… people can hear something in my moving pictures, even though there is no sound.” In addition to his extensive archive of gifs on Tumblr, Norman also has full video animations available on Vimeo as well as a Tumblr page dedicated to demonstrating his process of creation.
While many mediums have a constant back and forth debate between an emphasis towards using traditional, conventional methors or more recently available techniques, printmaker Carolyn Frischling does not concern herself with the argument. The Pittsburgh-based artist investigates new techniques in both image creation and printing methods, while continuing to honor the constantly-evolving history of the medium. “I’m proud that printmaking comes out of a long line of democratic, inclusive ideals, that today is at the forefront of technology and creativity.” Like many makers of prints, Frischling uses several simultaneous techniques to achieve the airy and colorful visual textures in her work, differentiated only by the image creation beforehand using computer editing programs. When asked by Beautiful/Decay to explain the benefits of working digitally versus using traditional methods, Frischling first explains, “Digital art enables me to use the same thought processes of traditional printmaking without the toxicity of using traditional materials on a daily basis.”
These moody and ethereal digital works are printed with archival inks on paper, silk, glass and aluminum, heavy with an abstract beauty attached to their process. Frischling further explains her methodology, “Digital printmaking is incredibly nuanced. There is so much more I can do that I couldn’t do in traditional printmaking, although the only reason I understand digital as well as I do, is because the thought processes are the very same. Sometimes I do miss the physicality involved in other kinds of art-making, but my art isn’t about physicality, so I think in this instance,”The medium is the message.”
Ultimately, whether created by physical process or digital manipulation, the works speak for themselves with strong compositions, moody palates, delicate forms and attest to the time spent mastering any artistic discipline. When Frischling explains, “My instinct is always to create movement and energy through use of color and form”, it is a goal separate from process and more located in ambition.
David Mesguich (previously here) is known for his enormous polyurethane and recycled plastic public sculptures, bearing line and shape work that is reminiscent of both geometric or vectorized patterns. The Brussels-based artist’s latest work, PRESSURE 1.0, was installed on an elevated freeway which is known to be the gateway to the French city of Marseilles. The artist explains, “The story of “pressure”—it’s the story of people who are on the fence, in between worlds, those who are both on the inside and on the outside. My inspiration came from two sources: a family history that steeped me in a violent, carceral universe during my youth and more than 10 years of trespassing with graffiti.”
Created with the geometric features of a woman’s face, the statue seems to stare, both blankly and longingly. Meguich describes the placement as “… a non-place where the sculpture could look in the direction of Africa and face the whole city at the same time.” Because the statue was not authorized by French authorities, it was technically illegal, but Megiuch explains that his work is as much an unorthodox ‘gift’ as it is illegal. “Pressure is a non-profit project, it was not made to be sold. As with my previous public space sculpture, LUZ 1.0[a large-scale sculpture created for the Nuit Blanche Festival in Clichy, a suburbs of Paris], it was created as a donation to the city.”
According to writer Sara Barnes at My Modern Met, “Despite its illegal placement, the sculpture remained untouched for two weeks. After a bad storm, however, the sculpture fell to the ground and was seriously damaged. The weather lasted a week, and everyday a new part of it was broken until nothing remained” (via mymodernmet)
Chinese artist Lu Xinjian has been inspired by maps and cities for years, often collected in his increasingly large-scale acrylic on canvas series City DNA. But his newest work City Light expands on these inspirations, taking the flat abstractions and mounting them onto the wall with neon.
Using Google Earth images of the artist’s current home, the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai, Xinjian renders the map loosely in his abstract style. The resulting plans are rendered in neon on a solid black background, and run on a flash program which controls the timing of each area’s lines being illuminated. Starting with a small, centrally-located blue square, the rest of the surrounding area follows, until the entire piece is lit. Representing the rapid growth of the modern metropolis, the network of neon light tubes takes the language of city communication and visually abstracts the idea of rapid expansion. (via alwaysinstudio and designboom)
Dimitri Kozyrev’s paintings are captivating, to say the least. His color precision from plane to line and surface to sky balances the ephemerally abstract beautifully with a hardened environment. This compositional fracturing feels like ice cracking on the pond, disrupting the reflection or illusion of us and our structures, before we crash into a new reality.
This “crash” echoes of Constructivism or Futurism, with deep contemporary critique on not just the disruption of landscape during wartime, but maybe even more so, the distortion of self, identity, and technology in relation to art and activism as these terms relate to the avant-garde, painting, and intention in today’s milieu.
On this note, Kozyrev elaborates:
“I have titled this body of work ‘Lost Edge.’ I use the word ‘edge’ because I draw a comparison between the notion of the avant-garde in war and the art world. In the early 20th Century, the avant-garde was at the height of its importance in both realms. Now, however, I maintain that just as the concept of the military avant-garde has been “lost,” because of changes in methods of warfare, the avant-garde in the contemporary art world, has also lost its edge.
“The source material for this body of work is images of ruins of the once mighty fortifications of the Mannerhiem Line, built to protect Finland from the advances of the Soviet military avant-garde. Finland’s attempt was valiant and not in vain; this war and the lives that were lost in 1939 are largely forgotten. The fortification lie in ruins, and nature is slowly reclaiming them. Similarly, the ‘cutting edge’ of the contemporary art world seems to have become blunted. Viewers of the avant-garde work of many visionary artists of the early 20th Century were shocked, challenged and inspired by The Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ and ‘Fountain’ of Marcel Duchamp. Because of changes in society, like changes in warfare, it has become difficult for today’s contemporary artist to generate the same level of response without resorting to vulgarity.”
Barcelona based artist Sergio Albiac creates these abstract portraits by writing computer programs that generate images, always including code that will randomly generate some aspect of the results. Through this medium of expression, Albiac has found a captivating balance of control and randomness, such as the portraits of Rimbaud and Neruda created from their words and signatures.
Albiac explains his process, “When I code a generative sketch, I introduce control (the sentences that govern the sketching action) and also a degree of randomness in the code. This is a machine control/randomness balance. Then, I select certain outputs (again, human control) and I paint a canvas using the selected generative images as an starting point, without the aim of exact reproduction. The act of painting is a struggle between control and randomness because, depending of the painting technique, paint behavior cannot be totally controlled by the painter. In this way, I explore a fascinating “dialogue” between control/randomness and machine/human interaction. It makes sense to me. I feel connected to artistic tradition but using the generative sketchbook process, I can create in a very contemporary and innovative way that deeply reflects the ideas I need to express.”
The work of the street artist known as 108 is much like his pseudonym: simple and mysterious. Often large black masses of abstract street art inhabit walls. Devoid of most or any detail, these masses are frequently punctuated by bursts of color. In a way the colorful abstractions feel like offshoots or biological growths on the larger black masses. There is a larger flow to his murals that are somehow familiar. The shapes, the way interact with their surfaces, and the way in interacts with itself feels organic. 108 explains this idea in a 2006 interview saying:
“Usually I work in public spaces, you know, and the background is the most important thing. I must find a good shapes for that place, usually I prefer old walls and abandoned places, and my “thing” grow by it self, as a tree or moss did, but I know nature do that really better than me! It’s very hard for me to work on a blank white surface… in that situations I must find a good inspiration elsewhere, maybe in another work I did before or working with a good friend with good ideas.”
Other times his abstract murals almost hint at an iconography, symbols, or recognizable shapes. Like much abstraction there is a lot of room for interpretation. Still, he goes on to say:
“Most of my works come from my unconscious and are totally irrational. You can see the abstract, soft and gloomy shapes… My works are also very symbolic. The same old example of the wheel, I found it in my unconscious, it was a big fixation for me… usually I have drawn it with 8 rays inside… In fact it was the sun wheel, one of the most important symbol in ancient Indoeuropean cultures (you can find it in a lot of Indian and Celtic stuff). This is just one example.”