With the help of a huge swarm of flies, John Knuth transforms decay into creation. Flies have long symbolized death and rot in art as well as popular culture. In medieval times, for example, it was popularly believed flies were born out of carcasses rather than eggs as larvae. Knuth, though, emphasizes the flies productive role in the larger cycle of life and death. He creates his work by first feeding the flies water mixed with sugar and paint. The flies largely digest their food outside of their body, Knuth’s flies doing this directly on the canvas. While digesting, each fly leaves a small mark of pigment, a small piece of the larger record or the swarm. Check out the video to see Knuth’s process and more of his finished paintings.
Mike Carr, aka China Mike, has previously been known for his photorealistic paintings, but has since ventured into the realm of abstraction. Using a variety of media such as spray paint, acrylics, oil pastels, and charcoal, Carr’s work captures a particular lack of constraint and fluidity that seems to spill out of the canvas, evoking a whimsical energy. Carr started out as a graphic designer, but embraced the medium of paint to escape the limitations of digital based media. “Process is as important as the end result. I don’t really feel a pressure to create realistically defined images these days. I want there to be a playfulness in my work, to not get bogged down in mechanical routines”. Carr is based in Bristol, England.
Perhaps in the strictest sense, these abstract pieces by artist Siebren Versteeg aren’t paintings (or maybe in any sense they are not really paintings). However, they do say quite a bit about painting and creativity. Versteeg created code that utilizes a complex set of algorithms to create these pieces. The work is then often printed on to paper or canvas. Versteeg observes patterns, tendencies, styles in abstract expressionist painting and uses these as the basis for the code that create these “paintings”. His programmed algorithms work with variable qualities such as viscosity, color, drips, and so on. The program then “decides” how to use and combine these variable in several layers to create a complete composition. In a way, the art is in the code Versteeg creates – the paintings merely a visual manifestation of that code.
Alberto Seveso’s high speed photographs of ink mixing with water are hypnotic and fascinating. Each shot depicts pushes of color twisting and bending with an emotive cadence, lulling itself into an ephemeral sculpture, detailed with sharp visceral attention.
Although such imagery is not new, per se, this specific collection feels intrinsically magnetic due to the captive nature of submerged color naturally bonding or relating before diluting. It’s more about documenting the ease of abstraction than pushing a forced abstract agenda.
Boston born and Brooklyn based, Leah Oates, examines how wires cross between elapsed worlds, over time, abstracting the most mundane views into beautifully muddled masses of illuminated energy.
Comparable to dust settling, each seemingly frenetic thread of line and light eventually condenses and glides into an artful circadian rhythm, conceptually, awaking a reaction or need to absorb the shock of our own projected velocities.
Of her work, Oates states, “Transitory spaces have a messy human energy that is always in the present yet constantly changing. I find them endlessly interesting, alive places where there is a great deal of beauty and fragility. They are temporary monuments to the ephemeral nature of existence.”
Margaret Nomentana’s nonrepresentational art demonstrates a fascinating balance between emotionality and restraint. Often working in a spontaneous manner, and sometimes working on several paintings simultaneously, her imagery reflects moments of clarity, caught in the act of vision and revision. Whether it’s collage or acrylic painting, her gestures evoke “abstract landscapes of the mind” or terse conversations with color and movement.
Of her own artistic desires, Nomentana states, “My strong minimalist impulse is tempered with a dry sense of humor, irony, and in spite of everything, a powerful sense of hope. Alma Thomas is my hero.”
Jason Willome uses a diverse array of materials: acrylic, glitter, rayon flocking, archival pigment transfers, and cement, to expose ephemeral palpitations we, as humans, emote from personal experience, art history, or popular culture.
His portraits, for instance, take inspiration from a tabloid shot of glitter bombed Lindsay Lohan. Willome explains, “It was really beautiful because there was this atmosphere of glitter all around the space of the image, and there were these great cast shadows being projected through the glitter onto Lindsay Lohan, by paparazzi flash bulbs. I thought this would be a wonderful way to create a connection between an image and the surface, to kind of soften the painted illusion, but play into it at the same time.”
Likewise, on a similar note, his “Technology Series” (second, above) further investigates “the atmosphere of the glitter bomb and interpreting atmosphere as paint material.”
For both, what emerges is an airy quote lifted from mainstream media, translated with imagery that avoids the weight of celebrity by embracing another more elusive aura: how everyday abstraction beautifully haunts these spaces we build or share together.
The paintings of Chase Westfall are pleasantly elusive. His work often toes the line between abstraction and figuration. He seems to often swing from sunny imagary such as flowers or rainbows to that of mutilated animal carcasses. However, he never gives it entirely away. The imagary often is obscured by a diamond grid work or its own abstraction. The viewers eyes constantly shifts between deciphering the images and inspecting the pattern, neither resolving the other. His oil paintings are executed on linen contrasting the soft surface with his hard edged geometric shapes.