Alejandro Bombín’s paintings are deceptive. At first glance, many of them appear to be old, faded images from vintage publications that were scanned into the computer. Something went awry and now they look glitchy. But, what they actually are is meticulously detailed acrylic works that produce a digital mistake by hand.
By dividing up the image into rows (take a look at the detail above), Bombín is able to draw the the picture and fracture it by shifting the picture right or left from its original center. He uses a pointillist technique and pairs pure colors together, which from far away forms a cohesive image. And, at the same time, these colors and the texture from it are reminiscent of a lo-res, pixelated image.
The distorted images point to our desire to hold onto the past and the failings that we experience with technology. Digitizing something ensures that we’ll have it forever. Photographs and newspaper clippings? Not so much. But what happens when technology fails us too? Bombín’s paintings remind us that both can be fickle and that there are no guarantees.
In artist Reiner Hansen’s series Facial Fallout, she paints self portraits that each depict a different persona. In some, she plays a character, like a reality star or the girl next door. In others, it’s another version of who she already is, but with a different hair style, skin sunburnt, and more. All of these are a departure of her true identity, which itself is fleeting and malleable based on who she was trying to be. Hansen explains:
Each is based on, or rather mapped onto, my own features and characteristics. My self image is re-conceived as these other women, who live in a world entirely different from my own. There is a process of transformation into involuntarily ‘stereotyped’ notions of who these people are or might be, a sort of method acting in painted form, leaving a history of performance in each image. Simultaneously a game that is playful as well as a meditative speculation on a fabricated ‘other life’, these images are partly about investigating the idea of ‘escape,’ not just away from ‘the self’ and into anonymity, but also away from the art historical traditions of the self portrait and its established practice of depicting the artist. Instead, concealing my self behind imagined personas, I attempt to escape identification.
These portraits are humorous, and part of the joy of looking at Hansen’s work is finding glimpses of her true self within all of these paintings.
Marc Dennis’ hyperrealistic paintings are centered around the gaze and ideal for viewers who enjoy spending a lot of time with a single work of art. Layered with symbol upon symbol, it’s apparent that there are two subjects featured in any one of his complex compositions – the person who does the looking and the object that’s being looked at. As we view how the two interact, we form a narrative about their relationship. What does it mean, for instance, that a NFL cheerleader stares at the classic Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso? How do the they relate to each other? And, how does this relate to us? In an interview with Hi Fructose, Dennis talks about trying to find our own meanings within art. He explains:
I saturate my paintings with truths and suggestions about human behavior, ways of looking, and the psychological, spiritual and physical relationships we have with art. Walter Benjamin, the famous social critic once said, “To experience the aura of a phenomenon means to invest it with the capability of returning the gaze.” I believe that we, as viewers and art lovers, are eager and more pleased when it happens, to find ourselves, or some semblance of ourselves in a work of art. In other words, I do my part in “returning the gaze” that Benjamin speaks of. And in this hyper self-conscious, glamour-driven, sexually-inflated and media-obsessed art culture of today, my works are satirical yet sincere, artificial yet real, and most definitely loaded with personal symbolism yet public pomp — a timely combination and expression. (Via Faith is Torment)
Melbourne-based artist Ollie Lucas creates works where colors swirl together with an almost preternatural smoothness, like oil diffusing in water, with more jagged and hard-line separation. Lucas says, ‘My work has always had graphical and clean elements to it. A past life as a graphic designer is to blame there’. Creating works that span painting on enormous wooden spools, to digital works on print and more recent explorations in glitch animations, Lucas explains his influences, ‘Exposure to the graffiti scene in Melbourne has made me question harmony in my work, I have a love for filthy, dirty and weathered paint splattered surfaces, but at the same time I crave clean, modern, hardline geometrics…This is what drives my practice, combining two visual elements that are polar opposites in search for a harmony that i may never obtain.‘
Lucas work has often confronts two seemingly-opposing forces, graffiti and graphic design, painting and printmaking, natural landscapes with digital glitches, and blends them together. When asked how his work has changed leading up to his solo exhibition Digital Landscapes,at Pierre Peeters Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, Lucas explains his more recent explorations and realizations in printmaking and digital creation. “It’s the first show I’ve done that is 100% digitally created. I’ve always used digital processes as a starting point in my work, however I felt a finished work needed the element of ‘hand-made’ to make it unique, to separate it from the mass produced. Since creating hundreds of drafts and moving through the paper choice/proofing and printing process I’ve come to realize a print can be just as unique as a painting.”
Though many see printmaking and painting differing in both result and creative impulse, the artist explains the harmony and connection between the two, giving value to both,“Although I have worked with many mediums in the past I still consider myself a painter, mainly because I still think like one and approach my work like a painter would. I think my work reads like a painting also.”
Ollie Lucas’ current exhibition, Digital Landscapes is on view at Pierre Peeters Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, from now through March 5th, 2014.
In 2004, artist Kim Alsbrooks began painting regal portraits on discarded cans in a series titled My White Trash Family. The work, which features both male and female subjects dressed in elaborate wigs, stately ascots, and enormous hats, is a juxtaposition of literal trash and fine portraiture. It was as initially inspired by Alsbrooks’ friend, a women’s history professor, who pointed out the historical biases that are present in art. In response, Alsbrooks’ tiny paintings mimic those that you’d find in museum collections. The fact that these exquisite works are produced on trash rather than quality materials is both ironic and amusing.
My White Trash Family is prolific; Alsbrooks has produced over 600 paintings since it started. All beverage cans are pre-flattened, mostly by passing cars or trucks. She describes her technique, writing, “One cannot flatten the trash. It just doesn’t work. It must be found so that there are no wrinkles in the middle and the graphic should be well centered. Then the portraits are found that are complimentary to the particular trash. Generally I depict miniature portraits from the watercolor on ivory era (17th-18th century more or less). The trash is gessoed in the oval shape, image drawn in graphite, painted in oils and varnished.”
Part of the success of this series is found in the dedication to craft, and the fact that she paints miniature portraits really well. But, what ultimately makes these works appealing is not necessarily tangible. The reference to high society and its traditional paths challenged by cheap, “lower class” items is instantly recognizable and relatable at a time when the one percenters rule the world. (Via Booooooom!)
New York-based artist Lee Price paints realistic portraits of women as they are caught in intimate moments consuming sweet treats and decadent desserts. They are either in bed or in the bathtub, both places where eating is seen as somewhat taboo (aside from the occasional breakfast in bed). Here, we are the voyeur, gazing at not only their location, but what they are eating. In a short statement about her work, Price writes:
In this society, there’s so much pressure for women to be thin. We’re not supposed to have appetites – and not just for food, but for a lot of things. We’re the givers and not the consumers, and I think some of my recent paintings are about the women staring at the viewers and saying, ‘I’m not going to censor my appetite.’
The women in Price’s work are unapologetic about what they enjoy, and it ultimately seems like they are liberated doing so. Many of them look straight at us instead of shying away. As she insinuates in her statement, Price’s work touches on the repression of desire, and the fact that they match our gaze communicates that they are taking control. (Via iGNANT)
Georgia Theologou (or Georgia Th as she is also known) is a self-taught Greek artist who paints hauntingly beautiful portraiture. Created by combining traditional and digital media, Theologou’s intentionally limited palate and trademark visual rendering gives both a soft lushness and a harsh reality to her subjects, like mascara tear trails being transformed into softly dabbed paint glitter. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay (and with the help of Google Translate), Theologou explains what inspires her symbolic subjects,
“Creating something is a way to express the feelings that are inside me that I maybe didn’t even know about before. It’s a way to explore myself and what I have on my mind, so when I am making my work I feel like I find something new about me and about how I see things that I did not even realize was present.”
Theologou’s internalized subjects are taken from many sources of art research and random bits of internet ephemera, and blended with other imagery that gives each portrait an allegorical depth and visual tension. Noting themes of nature ranging from human and animal, the stars and the cosmos in many of her colorful works, Georgia explains these combinations, saying
“I don’t paint people but the existence of a person. The subject of my paintings is the feelings of this existence or the situation they experience that moment. All of the objects I use in my paintings are random, but this helps me to create the right place and mood, so I choose objects that are common on fairy-tales and dreams. Nature and space are also places with the same strong sense of vitality, so the person can feel closer to his/her inner world. My paintings are not about a story or a specific idea or symbol, I think about painting “that” moment.”
Artist Randy Ortiz has been tantalizing the eyes of illustration fans for years, illuminating concert and movie posters both professionally and as creative tasks for a great imagination. While past work emphasized ink line work and detailed black and white charcoal drawings, recent work has become more colorful, with flat background colors which perhaps surprisingly emphasize the darker thematic weight in the mystical figures and composition.
The self-taught Canadian artist uses evolved techniques to illicit a near-Surrealistic response from his often-human figures, draped in masterfully rendered drapery and fabrics. Despite the often serious undertones immediately noticeable in his work, the obvious sense of humor is evident (mutant visual remixes of Drake’s oft-mocked album cover seen below for example). In other works hooded figures clamor over each other, all reaching for a disembodied hand holding a small heart talisman representing love, or mystical-triangle-eyed cats eye floating balls of string. With Ortiz’s visual narratives and painting style evolving at a rapid pace, he is definitely ahead of other illustrator/artist to watch.