“Graffiti Girls” is a stunningly beautiful portrait series by Austin TX-based artist Kevin Peterson. His blend of both hyper realistic portraiture and natural graffiti penmanship is a new one, and his command of both styles is impressive. Peterson uses the rough and jagged shapes of wall tags to directly juxtapose the soft beauty of young girls; the ragged and worn versus the innocent and clean. Though subject and backdrop are polar opposites, the girls seem empowered by the art behind them, instead of shying away from it. They may live in a world that’s tagged up, but they aren’t scared of it. The color and design of the spraypaint behind them seems to enhance the girls’ beauty and personalities, especially with Peterson often coordinating the tags with the girls’ outfits. These portraits help to make the argument that graffiti is becoming a more normalized form of public art, and though it’s not always pretty, younger generations growing up in this world are used to its presence, instead of threatened by it.
Yuichi Hirako is a Japanese artist whose paintings and sculptures blend humans, the city, and the forest together into in alternate, animistic realities. The works feel like they’re made by someone who feels life around them as one unified force and doesn’t envision a cataclysmic end to humanity, but just a change in how our form of life is expressed biologically. In Hirako’s work, it’s as though a nuclear catastrophe had dissolved the boundaries between all life forms on earth, leaving behind husks of cars, trees that grow houses, varicolored trees and rivers, and people who have very literally become one with nature. It’s interesting to think about alternate possibilities for life on earth, and if humanity does decide to use all our nuclear weapons, I hope we end up in Hirako’s paintings.
NYC-based artist Julie Evans creates these floating abstractions out of water-based paints on mylar (plastic sheeting). She lets the colors pool in bright puddles, cuts out individual sections, and collages them together to create new, but organic, shapes. Occasionally, soft pencil marks are added to form edges and shadows. Her creations look like something out of biology class; a cross section of a plant, a fragment of a mineral, or a grouping of cells. Though these collages are fabricated by hand, each piece looks like it came straight out of the natural world. Evans is currently displaying her work at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY.
Artist Kristen Schiele produces vibrant paintings and shadow boxes. Schiele richly layers her work both in her medium – paint, thread, collage – and in narrative. Her work merges indistinct structures and landscapes with rays and patterns of color as well as collaged human figures. Each piece seems at once to be about stories and tell one of its own. Speaking about the sources for her layers of images she says:
“I do keep a sketchbook. I also have a library of images printed out, some scanned in from libraries. They are from years of collecting. I get ideas and start folders of images for different paintings. I narrow the folders down into a show.” [via]
The work of Trenton Doyle Hancock is the focus of …And Then It All Came Back To Me, a new solo exhibit currently at the James Cohan Gallery through December 22. The Texas-based artist is well known for his exceptionally intricate work and the epic narrative that flows through it. Hancock seamlessly ties together classical, religious, and pop-culture references and styles into emotionally engaging artwork. His new series veers from his narrative to a more autobiographical theme and his role as an artist.
Trenton Doyle Hancock was also a featured artist in Beautiful/Decay Issue: V. Be sure to check it out if you’d like for more of Hancock and his work.
Alex Gibbs is an English artist whose paintings and drawings are equal parts despairing and funny. I love his mix of patterns, graphic contours, and all-over narratives–sex on a couch in a party room with a man huddled and crying; dancing by yourself in a room filled with big floral prints; a (presumably) dead couple holding hands in airplane seats surrounded by puzzle-like pieces of their airplane. His work doesn’t make light of human tragedy per-se, it just gives it a little perspective by flattening us into the shapes and patterns of the world we live in, relishing in the absurdity of our perceptions. ( via )
Portland, Maine based artist Sascha Braunig is a portrait painter of sorts. She uses traditional baroque portraiture techniques with a nod to Op art and a wink at Surrealism. Braunig’s figures seem to barely emerge out of a hypnotic (and nearly seizure inducing) patterned background. Her canvases are striped with colors that contrast so much they nearly appear to glow. The effect is hallucinatory and almost a bit haunting. The gallery statement from her current exhibit describe the various concepts at play saying:
“ Braunig’s geometric figures have a visual fluidity, as if their delicate skins can barely contain their bodies. Subject and background merge, creating ambiguity and optical tension. An alliance is forced between flat patterned designs and observed, mimetic representation.”
Sascha Braunig is exhibiting her work through December 22 at Manhattan’s Foxy Production.
Hold on to your eyeballs, Matthew Zefeldt‘s paintings just might wipe them out. Matthew’s enormous paintings seem to use every possible color and it’s obvious that he doesn’t just “like color”– he loves it, and is really good at it. Using color to give control thick, abstract figures form and depth, and flattening his pedestals, Zefeldt’s paintings are a new and wonderful take on impasto abstraction, so thick that some of them look more like a gum wall than a painting. His work is also great because he uses his goopy application to show what portrait paintings really are–paint! But instead of taking a cynical approach to the problem–”oh no, how could we be attaching so much significance and power to these things that are really just a bunch of paint”–his view seems more enthusiastic, as if to say, “yes, this is a bunch of paint–that’s why they’re the best!” I can’t wait to see more. If you want to see some in person, he has a piece hanging until the 10th in a FFDG Gallery group show The Diamond Seaalong with curiot and lots of other young up and comers. If you’re not in the bay area, you can see more of his work after the jump.