New Levels, the title of John Chae‘s new series of work, captures its dual nature succinctly. While the phrase New Levels may partly refer to higher levels of perception or consciousness, you may likely have had the same first impression as I did: video games. Chae’s paintings use both elements of fine art history and throw-away pop culture imagery – he visually cites Magritte and Escher alongside manga artists. Chae moves beyond the highbrow/lowbrow juxtaposition of our pop-art grandparents. Rather, his paintings are for and from a generation that doesn’t consume images as much as it puts them to use as a recyclable tool of self-expression.
The portraits of Marcus Cain fall somewhere between abstract and figurative. His faces appear to be in the process of solidifying, perhaps alluding to the identity they express.
Cain says, “I am currently interested in a particulate view of the human condition, acts of transformation, and shifting identities….My hope is to capture the figure in a transformative, in-between state.”
Cain also uses processes that allude to past styles such as pointillism and abstract expressionism. His nearly eerie portraits often dominated by prominent staring eyes, however, are reminiscent of pulp depictions of phantoms and apparitions.
Artist Jeremy Geddes paints with considerable skill. His highly detailed oil paintings depict surreal, often lonely scenes. Many of his panels picture a lone astronaut in an empty urban landscape. Its unclear whether his subjects are falling or floating, in trouble or asleep. Geddes communicates the haunting silence of each scene as effectively as textures and light. He clearly has an ease of technique and personal aesthetic.
Juan Travieso‘s work is a sort of contemporary nature painting. His paintings of monkeys, bears, birds, seem to be falling apart into garbled digital information. Travieso appears to be capturing the animals a moment before they degenerate into unintelligible pixels of color. This could reflect an environment that is falling apart despite (or perhaps because of) constant technological progress. Travieso captures a sense of urgency in the paintings, an irretrievable moment soon to pass.
Artist Xochi Solis‘ work combines painting with collage into smartly layered pieces. Rather than spreading the elements throughout the composition, Solis places them all at the center. She layers each piece on the on top of the one before it, revealing only pieces of found images or painterly strokes. The round images almost appear cellular though still resisting easy interpretation or identification. The Austin, Texas based artist’s materials range from acrylic and oil paint to found images and acetate.
Black Hole is a project by Stockholm-based artist, Orestes Grediaga. A feeling of “void” and “emptiness” had struck the artist almost instantly – a feeling he had yet to experience. That day, the artist was drawn to a large piece of paper, on which he drew a black hole. ”When it was dry, it seemed to absorb all of me as I looked at it. Inside, there were no thoughts nor feelings, no memories, no physicality, nothing. It was like a black hole. At that moment a sense of abiding calm came over me from inside, from the very same place this enigmatic void was coming from.” - Orestes Grediaga
MOMO is a street artist working internationally. His pieces can range in size from relatively small to the size of city blocks. It is his style, though that is peculiar. His murals forgo text or figuration in favor of an abstract form. His work often has a deceptively simple composition. MOMO’s technique resembles simple print aesthetics while even referencing mid-century abstract painters.
The figurative drawings and paintings of Pasadena based artist Ching Ching Cheng are remarkably captivating to me. She uses members of her family often as subject matter but continually chooses to portray them in a conceptual way embracing different ways to illustrate a memory of that person in her past more so than the realistic representation of them. Ching uses sculpture and installation mediums in her work, such as her vintage polaroid and mm camera sculptures made of found books & maps. Each camera sculpture has tremendous amounts of character to them feeling to me as if they are alive beings or the “true” soul of whatever camera they are embodying. Ching’s work is thoughtful and personal slivers of her life past and present. Her primary influences include nature, and psychology.