Shelly Mosman’s Intensely Personal Portraits

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The strength of the portraiture tradition, and what separates it from documentary photography, lies in the skill of the photographer to attach meaning and the essence of the person in a simple image. Using metaphor, subtlety, and open-ended but vaguely familiar narrative, photographer Shelly Mosman is able to imbue an intensely personal and soft-spoken beauty to her photographs. Drawn to subjects for reasons she says she often cannot immediately describe, Mosman spends a great deal of time with her subjects, waiting for key moments when their personality is revealed through action, or the subtlest of looks or gestures. “Portraiture relies on the smallest mannerisms and expressions to offer narrative,” says Mosman, “I rely on the spontaneity of circumstance.” 

The Minneapolis-based portraitist continues:

“In my photographs I negotiate and characterize the balance between my own vision and the unknown and often powerful potential given by each portrait’s subject. I am drawn to certain people for the simple reason that I know shooting them will give me an image I could never have created on my own, and because my camera can reveal something they may not have known was in themselves.  It becomes a synthesis of us both, captured in a single photograph. These connections with each subject are often too straightforward and immediate to be conscious, but rather they are something that is felt immediately, coming straight from the gut, which is the home of our instincts.”

Mosman is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an upcoming exhibition titled Mercury. The show will feature new black and white works, printed with a long-standing (though rarely used) silver gelatin contact technique, overseen by a master printer. They will then be framed in a specially designed cast resin frames, the results of a collaboration with two sculptors. For more information or to donate, click here.

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80′s And 90′s Pop Culture Transformed Into Darkly Prophetic And Nostalgic .Gifs

There is no doubt that the current resurgence of the .gif medium is indicative of how image-based and internet-dependent our networked society has become. Born of and propagated through the Internet, .gifs offer a perfect medium for our constantly consuming Share-Culture, a culture that artist Mark Vomit masterfully samples from, and takes particular pleasure in critiquing. Inspired in equal parts by nostalgic ’80s and ’90s ephemera and modern Internet imagery, Vomit’s aesthetic has made him a leading voice in a new online visual arts movement, despite his often apathetic and apocalyptic style.

When asked via email to describe his motivation, as well as his aesthetic, Vomit responded adroitly:
“1. Mark Vomit is documenting the Apocalypse.   
2. Mark Vomit manipulates images and sounds.  
3. You Have No Voice, You Have No Choice, the New Order Nation has Taken Over and 
Everything You Like Is Wrong. 
4. Vomiting is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose. 
5. Manipulate: to use or change in a skillful way or for a particular purpose. 
6. Studies in Post 20th Century Culture and Media.”

This philosophical and aesthetic difference made Vomit (who also performs in the the art-doom-rock band Bollywood) a competitive contender in a recent head-to-head tournament of the world’s best .gif artists organizes by the influential new media art and tech site VIA. Considering the often too-cutesy and completely referential (read: unoriginal) work which proliferates Tumblr  posts, it serves as a refreshingly radical reaction to have an artist defacing and exploring the medium with a grittier, grimier approach.

Mark Vomit‘s .gif work will be featured in Post Physical | Visual Reactions to the Post-Internet Age, which opens June 28th, 2014 at SooLocal in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The exhibition runs through August 10th. More information at the event page here.

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Exhibition Explores Parallels Between Design And Cloud Data

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A recent exhibition in Minneapolis investigates the inherent desire to organize and structure our world, and the ensuing clutter and confusion when we become increasingly influenced by the sprawling technologies we’ve invented to helps us. Eddie PerroteLeanna Perry and Bill Rebholz conceived Scategories as a display to highlight ordered chaos.  “We’ve enabled our minds to perceive more information, decrease our mental clutter and externalize our memories,” reads the press release, which explains why the exhibition feels a bit overrun, offering too much to process, even when the looking is enjoyable.

Each of the artists has one foot firmly planted in the design world, which is perhaps the ideal middle ground to view the changing landscapes of art and design, and how technology is rapidly altering them. The group explains, “Through organizing the brain we present windows into the cerebral wold of structure, chaos, habitual patterns, and seemingly infinite layers of content. It’s these informalities that create vivacious energy, and eccentricities that feed the visual cacophony of information ever gathering within our minds.”

The exhibition itself is presented with this visual cacophony in mind. Colorful, typography-inspired murals covering several walls, while the remaining white-walls are densely covered with 2 and 3-dimensional works. Recurring motifs, such as simplistic cloud shapes, puzzle pieces, mirrors and stairs connect their works; an unplanned phenomenon, which was not surprising considering their shared influences and interests, claims the group. Perrote, Perry and Rebholz even shared a specific color palette for the show, using the same magenta, teal, and yellow paints, both for visual cohesion and “to highlight the gap between colors that exist in reality and the RGB colorspace of computer screens” says Perrote.

At the heart of the exhibition is a paradox, highlighted by the significant gesture that each painting, drawing and screenprint was made by hand. Even in a time when we can create, share and store an unlimited amount of data, the information must still be processed slowly, through our hands, eyes and minds in order to be appreciated, an appreciation which is key to good design.

Scategories is currently on view at The Abstracted Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The closing reception will be Friday, April 11th, 2014, from 7 to 10 pm.

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Lauren Roche’s Visceral, Evocative, And Singular Paintings

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Two-Dark-Horses

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lauren-2 figures and an animal_4_770In Lauren Roche‘s paintings, like the best portraiture, there exists a story found in discrepant details. Amidst heavily applied broad stroke of paint and drips, black dots appear to be lactating from human and animals, insinuating teets as opposed to breasts. Teeth are bared in grinless maws not typically associated with people or their pets. And yet there exists an honest and humble beauty in Roche’s rendering of her subjects. Explaining that many subjects are taken from faces of friends and pets, as well as old photographs used for reference, the Minneapolis-based artist adds,

“The figures in my images are facets of my subconscious and take action in a pictorial language and don’t transfer into names for me. I like to leave the interpretation of personality up to the viewer, because that’s what I do.”

Roche’s paintings possess a rawness that cannot be denied, balanced in equal measure by a deft rendering of facial expressions. Perhaps the beauty of these paintings comes from their singular nature, and their anachronistic charm, evocative of a different era of capturing images. When asked the purpose of a focus on portraiture, particularly in an uploadable Digital Age, Roche responds,

“The purpose of portraiture is to give the maker and viewer the space for an interpretation of the subject that is private and flexible, fluid and idiosyncratic. Its difficult to compare portraiture to a cell phone picture because the process is so different. Drawing portraits is like a form of meditation and reflection for me and taking a cell phone picture feels more like a superficial gesture to prove that I’m enjoying myself.”

Roche’s work will be featured in the upcoming Two Dark Horses at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, alongside Andrew Mazorol and Tynan Kerr (who when painting collectively go by AMTKpreviously featured here) and Lindsay Rhyner. The exhibition, named after one of Roche’s paintings (top of page) opens this Friday, March 21st and runs through April 26th, 2014.

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Mathew Zefeldt PaintIngs Inspired By Glitch Aesthetics

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floating brush marks 

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The work of Mathew Zefeldt (previously featured heresuccessfully balances improbable combinations – modern with historical, digital with classical, painterly foregrounds with computer-like backgrounds – all by densely rendering them in traditional painting techniques with oils and acrylics.  Having created an advanced personal lexicon of art historical references to classical sculpture, as well as to abstract and figurative painting, these figures cohesively exist alongside more modern glitch aesthetics, shifting colors, garish patterns, and computer-like repetition. Through the combination of these disparate elements, Zefeldt recalls the history of the painting medium, while referencing the potential to represent our new, hybrid reality. Explaining his work, the artist says, “My paintings are still-life arrangements that take place in my head; they are windows onto a fictional world, governed by rules based in the real world, but bent and broken…”. 

These still-lifes exist in another improbably capacity, that of using both illusionistic depth and perspective, but on two-dimensional plane. This use of the flat-plane is more often found in collage, as is Zefeldt’s tendency to repeat (almost) identical imagery. When asked by Beautiful/Decay why he chooses painting to construct his explorations of a variegated contemporary visual culture, Zefeldt replies, “It would be a million times easier to collage or photoshop rather than paint. But paint forces you to slow down. Painting the same thing over and over again is almost meditative. Painting can be subversive too. Everything is getting more digital, movies etc. I think its important to keep making things manually, by hand.” This attention to craft highlights a uniquely human quality, where each sculptural bust appears exactly the same, but holds its own standard of flawed beauty upon closer inspection.

The Minneapolis-based painter will be featured in the group exhibition Figure Ground (curated by Gideon Chase - previously featured here) at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in San Francisco, CA. The exhibition (which opens January 10th and runs through February 8th, 2014) features work which explores the relationship between the figure and the foreground, testing different styles of background, illusionistic dimensions and a flat plane’s ability to contain both subject and context in a search for meaning.

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Patrick Martinez’s (Pop) Culturally Poignant Neon Signage

a dream deferred

A Dream Deferred

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American Melting Pot 1 Chinese Mexican

shit is sweet

Shit is Sweet

 

Los Angeles-based artist Patrick Martinez (previously featured here) not only works with the messages that are seen daily on Any Major Inner City Street USA, he also uses the favored communication method of the majority of these messages to give additional contextual weight to his artistic turns of phrases. While Martinez has been lauded as The Man in Art & Design 2013 (Complex Magazine), Latinos on the Rise as well as Artist on the Rise at Scope Miami, it seems to sell the artist’s work short by boxing it in to an ethnic or inner-city-only messages, considering the crux of his work focuses on themes (consumerism, globalism, mental and physical health, violence, money, race, and a multi-cultural future) which effect the broadest ranges of a global society. To simply state that he uses the vernacular of the disenfranchised would be limiting the unique, darkly-egalitarian perspective Martinez brings to his work, as well as the implication against an unnamed force that keeps the Everyman (no matter their ethnicity or background) from achieving the most basic of human goals. Martinez expands on this idea, “People feel it’s accessible, complex but it still invites. It’s like a kiss on the cheek and a punch to the gut all at the same time.  It’s not elitist, but relatable.”

While many of the artist’s works freely delve into multimedia (the combination of still-life realism painting with neon sign craftsmanship), Martinez’s works statement claims a simpler message. “Patrick focuses on the phenomenology of his surroundings. He brings sublime beauty to things that aren’t thought of as conventionally beautiful. He uses subject matter such as everyday people that aren’t usually painted into the limelight and elements of the city that would be thought of as objects we take for granted.”

Martinez’s upcoming exhibition, Buy Now, Cry Later at Public Functionary in Minneapolis, MN, promises to continue this tradition simultaneous cultural exploration and criticism. By focusing a glowing eye on the viewer, Martinez builds metaphors of consumption and the unending needs of Capitalism and the Human Spirit in the modern world. Buy Now, Cry Later opens Friday, November 15th and runs through Friday, December 20th.

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Terrence Payne’s Narrative Paintings

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It is difficult not to imagine a narrative when seeing the work of Terrence Payne. The Minneapolis-based artist uses elements of design, iconography, typography, pattern and figure, all rendered in a decorative style and soft pallete but with subject matter that is anything but.  While the artist occasionally focuses on a central word or scrawled text behind the animals and repeating, archetypical figures, Payne’s paintings use loaded narratives that combine believable earnestness and well-intentioned antagonism.

To achieve the softness in the work, Payne first uses colored pencils to enhance the quality of light and jewel tones, then applies layers oil pastels which allows the the under-drawings show through. Payne says:

 “I want you (the viewer) to see the mechanism of it. The idea is just how can I reinforce the sense of this being artificial, that these people aren’t real. They are just representations of what I am thinking about

Terrence’s recent work has been concerned with “cataloging the human effects of trying to keep your head afloat in an increasingly polarized world of haves and have-nots” and “examining a person’s perceived place in society” and how that affects the way the work is perceived. This most recent work will be collected in an exhibition alongside Nick Howard (previously here) called Cake, at the artist-collective space Payne helped found, Rosalux Gallery in Northeast Minneapolis (which was named Twin Cities’ Best Gallery in 2013). Cake opens October 12th and runs through October 31st.

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Michael Gaughan’s Visual Punchlines Bring Comedy To Art

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Michael Gaughan represents a new breed of hyper-creative talents whose work spans an absurd amount of media. Known for a variety of projects (including city-wide scavenger hunts, his chat-roulette in a mock-dorm room rapping identity Ice Rod, and for renting out his apartment for couples needing a romantic getaway on Valentine’s Day), Gaughan creates with an almost child-like glee. Despite the playfulness in the work, however, there is a sophistication and consistency that separates it from most. This is particularly evident in his highly-technical watercolor paintings, where art-world in-jokes exist seamlessly with pop-culture rimshots. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Gaughan summarizes his motivations, “Humor is not my main medium, but definitely a consistent theme in my life and my artwork. I think that putting yourself out there in a vulnerable way is really uncomfortable and nerve-racking. It is a lot easier to do things as a joke rather than take yourself seriously, and simultaneously I am equally motivated by the possibility of brightening up someone else’s day. I ultimately want to bring joy to other people.

Gaughan’s work references “(art) history…obscenity, pop culture, absurdity, personal experiences, fears, feelings, misunderstandings, language, human experience, and creativity as well. Skate culture is great too!” When asked about the obvious amount of time spent on each work compared to the relatively short amount of time to elicit a humorous response (and if that adds to the joke), Gaughan responds, “Ha ha I hope so. It is also important to remember that punchlines can stay with you… Just because the audience can “get it” in seconds, doesn’t mean that they won’t revisit again it in their mind. I think art-work that takes longer to understand doesn’t necessarily mean that people will remember any longer than something that took only a second to get...”

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