Vicki Ling is an artist that creates graphite drawings of surreal landscapes. Chock full of symbolism and mystery, Ling’s images are cryptic. Part of their appeal is trying to solve the visual puzzle that she’s constructed.
Ling briefly speaks about her work, writing, “…fictional landscapes and constructions shift between two and three dimensions, creating a sensation of movement and evolving forms.” The places depicted are liminal spaces, meaning they are in transition, somewhere between what they began as and what they will become. This is made inherent in the movement and tension created by the textures and forms in the work. They are reminiscent of the ocean. We can imagine the crashing waves, tides, and the inhabitants of the sea. There is tension in Ling’s work, and it is easy to feel like at any moment waves will rush in and fill the rooms that she’s so carefully rendered. But, considering Ling’s intent, perhaps she wants an environment that could suddenly be swept away. This notion is refreshing, but also sad knowing that this environment is fleeting.
I am personally intrigued by Ling’s drawing that features a sinkhole. In this image, it looks like the top of the landscape has been punctured. The surface is fragile and looks like it is going to cave in on itself. What would it become? I imagine it to be a black hole, drawing everything in until nothing is left. Or, it could be a portal to another world. The places in Ling’s drawings could exist anywhere. They are surreal and conjure the feeling of a dream, so this could all exist in someone’s head. As the artist spoke of moving and evolving forms, these drawings are all metaphors; not only a shifting environment, but personally as we grow, change, and confront obstacles. If we are willing, we evolve just as Ling’s landscapes suggestively do.
Since 2003 Judith Ann Braun has been experimenting with a new artistic medium and a set of rules: Symmetry, abstraction, and a carbon medium (usually charcoal or graphite). Braun’s work, Fingerings, entails the use of her fingers in lieu of more traditional tools in order to create intricate and bilaterally symmetrical designs, sometimes covering an entire wall. The details of her sweeping landscapes are also all perfectly symmetrical. For some of these works, Braun will use both hands simultaneously to help create the symmetrical effect she wishes to execute. Braun lives in New York City and was a contestant on Bravo TV’s “Work of Art” in 2010.
In his latest series of drawings, Anthony Coicolea poetically engages with the term “pathetic fallacy” or our own egocentric inclination to prescribe human characteristics or qualities to all living things. His imagery, done beautifully with simple graphite on layered mylar, allows worlds to overflow with new pattens of transcendence despite an archaic old world order.
Of this series, the artist statement suggests, “In a new hybridized world of man and nature, nothing is permanent and nothing is safe. Humans, plants and animals have cross-pollinated; they have merged, evolved and adopted different features from each other. Objects acquire pathos and empathy while the decomposition of material things reflects the world in flux.
London-based illustrator Ricardo Fumanal creates tight graphite drawings that combine many elements to create an almost collage-like effect. The drawings might have come off as cold and without human touch if it hadn’t been for Fumanal’s skill in capturing the expressions of his subects. And then again, if you get so good at rendering in graphite that people find it hard to see a human touch in the first place, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. See more of the artist’s work after the jump.
Nicomi Nix Turner draws upon her upbringing in the Pacific Northwest in her Nature themed graphite illustration works. The delicate graphite lines work nicely with some of Turner’s busy, full-of-life compositions. Beetles, insects, skulls, and girls that look like they’ve spent their whole lives in the forest come together as one. It’s fun to go over these works a couple times trying to uncover every element of their makeup. That quality of “oneness”, when considered as equal parts subject matter and composition, comes off really strongly. Beautiful stuff. Check out her blog too.
London based artist Emma Mcnally makes abstract graphite drawings that look like city grids and star maps. But this description doesn’t come close to doing them justice. Usually large in scale, the drawings emit a wizened, emotive quality. Somehow, each miniscule mark of graphite takes on endless personality. In the end, the works are just as effective as maps of life’s random chaos as they are as any type of reference to formal cartography. (via)
Renee French has been making comics for a long time. But for a few years now, she’s maintained a sketchblog full of spontaneous, faded graphite drawings that draw their appeal from creative character design and dubious narrative elements. Think of the black and white surrealist aesthetics of a Travis Louie painting, scaled and repackaged for children’s book production.
Never were there lovelier tortured souls. Wisconsin-born and University of Wisconsin at Madison-trained artist Melissa Cooke works primarily in powdered graphite and often casts herself as the subject of her drawn musings. Striking in both subject matter and detail, her creations explore themes of violence, sexuality, and identity. The nuances of story and emotion evoked are powerful, often unsettling. All of this is made by the artist’s skillful hand, guiding her dry brush across thin layers of graphite on sizeable pieces of paper.