Laura Krifka’s work feels both classical and contemporary– a collection of myths that transcend time, stuck on the spin cycle from one era to the next. There is a soft religious quality in each face as he or she slowly responds to pending doom, lurking out of view. Such off stage suspense, feels exactly this way– theatrical.
The dramatic cliche breathes with familiarity, reminding us of our own cyclical head space in relation to history, story archetypes, life, and to our own animalistic emotions or neurotic human obsessions. It’s why we make art and why we repeat ourselves generationally and artistically.
Of her paintings, Krifka states, “I create a world populated with naive and innocent figures acting out their own legend, blind to the dangers around them or those that exist within themselves. In my work the fantasies and clichés of our own world combine and breed, creating a hyperbolic landscape populated by a society lost in their own myth.”
Take a stroll along the High Line in NYC and you can’t help but notice Chelsea’s very own eye-popping mural by Eduardo Kobra on 25th and 10th. This towering piece of street art infuses a rainbow bolt of color into Manhattan’s skyline, emoting nostalgic imagery: re-imagining Alfred Eisenstaedt’s 1945 classic photograph “VJ Day in Times Square.” Likewise, if you live along the west coast in LA, you might have noticed Kobra’s psychedelic Mt. Rushmore redeux at 1255 La Brea Ave, exposing the art of democracy.
Interestingly, this artist is not from America, but São Paulo, where his passion for blending vintage or classic iconic imagery into contemporary settings first emerged in the late 1980s and has traveled internationally ever since. The intention was and is to pay homage to the parts of a country’s past or remind the city inhabitants of their historical precedents– emphasizing a certain level of romanticism.
Sean Mahan’s refreshing acrylic paintings on wood depict girls as creative spirits deeply empowered by and engaged with their own crafty muses. Unlike the classical order, where female figures were often shown as objects that inspire– here, the buzz of breathing maker is most present within the the young lady subjects themselves. Each portrait shows a confident furrowed brow or contemplative daze completely focused inward on a project at hand, unaware of the artist’s gaze. Their identities appear to be emerging from within, not dependent on an external eye.
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.
The paintings by Michael Ray Charles depict controversial imagery regarding racial stereotypes from the past and present commercial culture. In Print Mag, he suggests his usage of such stereotypes are not designed to thrill, throw, or flaunt, but more so to excavate their societal relevance, revulsion, and power– examining how each affects our personal symbolic lexicons. It’s an ongoing compounding struggle to discern and detach from this branding.
Regarding this, Charles asserts, “I think about so many people whose lives these images have affected. A lot of Black people have died and many are dying under the weight of these images. That’s motivation enough for me to explore, and deal with, these things.”
While looking at sausage, most people only see sausage– mouth watering deliciousness; Karsten Wegener, however, sees a work of art by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, or Vincent Van Gogh. Each playful photograph translates a meaty culinary treat into a classic contemporary masterpiece, acknowledging the food’s curvacious qualities and raising the bar for its standard of use.
As Anthony Bourdain says, “Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.” The same thing goes for artworks we admire and aspire to create.
Blending the natural with the artificial world is Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s bread and butter in photography, and this applies not only to his staged documentary subject matter, but also his lighting. Whether it’s incorporating neon signage, cheesy ballroom glowing fixtures, another camera’s flash, or even a hidden light in the pavement, each technique helps shine a light on the ordinary as extraordinary from business men to hustlers– the majestic glow does not discriminate.
So, before the day gets too stressful, let’s relax with a little meditation on each powerful mesh of light. Feel free to share your own favorite lighting tips or tricks in the comments as well.
Lee Stoetzel carves fast food, life-size VW buses, vintage Mac computers, and even fine art from wood, recalling iconic objects, and ironically, examining worn-out symbols or ideas in contemporary art, initially cultivated from the likes of Chuck Close, Rube Goldberg, and Claes Oldenburg.
Whether its mesquite or cypress, each renewable resource favors sinewy flaws or wood marks that, according to Stoetzel, feel comparable to brush strokes, providing another layer of texture and pop of craftsmanship.
Check out the video of Stoetzel discussing his work in his studio and see a few more stills after the jump.