It comes as no surprise to anyone who idles away hours at a computer screen looking at design and art sites that the cut and paste collage medium is seeing a resurgence in importance. Sharing the internet’s tendencies of immediacy, appropriation and a denial of visual ownership, collage combines anything and everything to create a natural response and reflection of our age.
The collage work of Jesse Draxler similarly combines these strengths and tendencies, though with hand-crafted technique. His mixed-media fusion of found images, typography and design sensibilities thrives in information-overload times, both in drawing inspiration as well as being viewed instantaneously. By finding source material from anything, Draxler is able to ‘remix’ fashion spreads as easily as referencing art movements, crafting a new 2-dimensional language that has an immediate accessibility. This intentional referencing of constant stimulus, which is manipulated first and considering after, is essentially a kind of hyper-consumption of images that might be the descendant of William Burroughs’ cut-up technique. Draxler has no contention with this, saying, “Going through my Tumblr feed is like gathering ammunition which I will use myself, in my own way. I am able to see trends emerge in real-time, and I think about how I can fit those aesthetics into what I do, or even wrap what I do around those aesthetics.” Essentially everything, regardless of theme, origin, niche or intent, has the potential to become inspiration.
Recently featured in Gestalten’s The Age of Collage, a survey of the foremost collage artists working in the world today, Draxler’s ability to draw inspiration from anything fully portrays the strength of the visual remix medium.
The art of Ala Ebtekar is as simple as it is effective. Ebtekar was born in the United States and raised in California but retained a strong connection to the land of his heritage, Iran. You can nearly see in Ebtekar’s work a gazing at home from far away, a sort of portal. Ebtekar is definitely referencing the cosmic with this work. He says of the Sufi influence behind his work, “Sufis believe that existence is of two natures – both earthly and divine – and it’s that transition between these two states that’s represented by an arch. The arch could be in architecture, but it could also be a beloved’s eyebrow, and how that’s an entrance to that other space.” Ebtekar also subtly uses Western imagery in addressing this “other space” – you’ll notice some of these pieces printed on the back of science fiction movie posters.
Mixing an admiration for John Baldessari with her own childhood memories of cutting/altering magazines with her mother, Flore Kunst creates captivating collages from vintage postcards and magazines, while sprinkling a few contemporary clippings throughout. A graduate of Emile Cohl for design, Kunst’s eye for intriguing detail and clean lines is evident; however, it’s her creative visual juxtapositions that truly capture our attention most, allowing us to meditate on the female form and its signifiers from era to era– how it all clashes and confuses even the most contemporary culture and its psyche.
Inspired by her Oakland surroundings and the mysterious life of collected objects (from homeless shopping carts to a public disposal & recycling area), Amy Wilson Faville collages her own drawings in with an assortment of vibrant materials such as old mattress fabric, file folders, vintage wallpaper, and other scraps. Comparable to quilt-making, Faville’s compositions incorporate consistent patterns with eclectic pops of color, conceptually mirroring her subject matter.
Speaking on her Carts series specifically, Faville states, “My goal was to use the power of beauty to transform images of squalor into splendor.”
A. Ruiz Villar parcels out space in relation to geometric positions, with minimal pops of color threaded throughout. His subtle gradations of white give special depth and age to the work so imagery doesn’t feel flat, but formed, or architecturally emerging. These vibrant compositions are not easy to visually choreograph– however, Villar makes it look beautifully accidental and organic.
Of his work, Villar’s stance seems like a conceptual mash-up of science, math, and poetry, suggesting it “revolves around the quest for a language akin to the following factors: 1.1.1. Provisionality (doubt): Lack of an evident purpose. 1.1.2. Continuity: There are silences, there’s no rest. 1.1.3. Uprootedness: There’s no commitment to technique, structure, or materials.”
Whether it’s hand painted, collaged, and/or sewn together, Jenny Toth imaginatively entwines colorful drawings of the animal kingdom to meditate on a sometimes humorous, and always surreal study of the female condition.
Of her work, Toth states, “For many years I have been intrigued by the way women artists choose to depict themselves. Like many other artists, my view dramatically differs from a historical approach to the female model. I choose to include elements not traditionally viewed as beautiful—for example, a deformed toe, hairy legs, unkempt hair. However I have no interest in shocking the viewer, but seek to share my honest, uncensored observations. I have always been allergic to pretense and slickness.”
London-based artist Julie Cockburn revises old throw-away photographs and paintings with embroidery thread, shears, and other sundry items to create new contemporary curiosities. Each delicately considered piece contemplates craft culture in relation to the industrial age or mass production, and the identities that roam invisibly from one transmission to the next.
Of her work, Flowers Gallery suggests, “Julie introduces ideas to found objects that generate dialogue about modernity and art history, gender and identity, nature and urbanity and the relationship between process and idea.”
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.”