With the help of a huge swarm of flies, John Knuth transforms decay into creation. Flies have long symbolized death and rot in art as well as popular culture. In medieval times, for example, it was popularly believed flies were born out of carcasses rather than eggs as larvae. Knuth, though, emphasizes the flies productive role in the larger cycle of life and death. He creates his work by first feeding the flies water mixed with sugar and paint. The flies largely digest their food outside of their body, Knuth’s flies doing this directly on the canvas. While digesting, each fly leaves a small mark of pigment, a small piece of the larger record or the swarm. Check out the video to see Knuth’s process and more of his finished paintings.
The portraits of of Gregory Jacobsen hover somewhere between grotesque and sadly real. He focuses in on the peculiarities that makes each face unique. These peculiarities, our physical insecurities, are strangely exaggerated. Though the faces may look ugly they’re also somehow familiar. Jacobson says of his work:
“I paint figures, focusing on the little bits that obsess me…a little flab hanging over a waistband, ill-fitting shoes, underbites and exciting flags held in dainty orifices…The work is absurd, grotesque and a bit brutal but I try to bring the viewer in with lush and glowing surfaces. Essentially the work is about human failure and weakness groomed and developed to be an asset.”
The people pictured here are not modified, mutilated, or even Photoshopped. Rather they are only covered in acrylic paint. The Artist Chooo-San carefully paints extremely realistic extra eyes and mouths, zippers, cords, and plugs on directly on to the bodies of her subjects. Her work is so realistic, it’s nearly disturbing at times and surprising it isn’t digitally manipulated. She says:
“But I guess I was a little sick of everyone making pictures with their computers and wanted to see how far I can go without those technologies such as Photoshop. My works are all done with acrylic paints. They are all painted on skin directly and I don’t use computers or anything to change the picture afterwards.” [via]
Perhaps in the strictest sense, these abstract pieces by artist Siebren Versteeg aren’t paintings (or maybe in any sense they are not really paintings). However, they do say quite a bit about painting and creativity. Versteeg created code that utilizes a complex set of algorithms to create these pieces. The work is then often printed on to paper or canvas. Versteeg observes patterns, tendencies, styles in abstract expressionist painting and uses these as the basis for the code that create these “paintings”. His programmed algorithms work with variable qualities such as viscosity, color, drips, and so on. The program then “decides” how to use and combine these variable in several layers to create a complete composition. In a way, the art is in the code Versteeg creates – the paintings merely a visual manifestation of that code.
The cities of Amy Casey exist precariously. Buildings tower, tilt, and balance about to topple. Much like actual city life, the metropolis’ in Casey’s paintings can seem like a hard-fought existence bound by community. Further tying her paintings with actual cities are the buildings that actually inhabit both worlds – amazingly, every single home and building in Casey’s paintings is based on one of her numerous photographs of actual structures. In her statement, Casey says of her work:
“Cities are fascinating creatures that I am just beginning to scratch the surface of. The work and organization that goes into a city’s creation and evolution, the constant shifting and adaptations, and the sometimes hidden history of these changes and a city’s dependence on civilian cooperation are things I like to think about.”
Also, check out a short documentary on Amy Casey here.
Nathan Manire‘s work may seem more akin to printing than painting. These water color on paper pieces pleasantly blend digital and handmade imagery. The bleeding and absorption of paint into the grain of the paper reveals the passing of an artist’s hand. However, the paintings refer to the pixelized image. In a strange way, stepping back from each painting seems to reveal more detail, while stepping forward again turns the piece into a nearly abstract work. His skillful painting has won him high profile clients such as Nike, Wired magazine, and Cosmopolitan magazine.
The visions of Mario Martinez (also aptly known as MARS-1) seem to either be extraterrestrial or drug induced. His large scale paintings hold to very realistic perspective. However, there the realism breaks down. Geometric shapes, organic like growths, and strange lighting effects intertwine to form one complex mass on his canvas. Martinez’ work seems to depict something between living and synthetic, not quite landscapes or creatures. Check out his website to seem some similarly styled sculptural work.
Even through a computer screen Tauba Auerbach‘s work is wonderfully confusing. To answer the question that you may likely be asking right now: Yes, these are paintings. Auerbach folds, rolls, crinkles, and otherwise manipulates the canvas prior to stretching it. She then sprays it with various colors of acrylic paint from different angles. The resulting paintings are definitely two-dimensional work. The process, though, produces an extremely realistic three-dimensional effect, as if the painting were indeed folded and wrinkled then lit by colored lights.