The paintings of Korean artist KwangHo Shin are most certainly portraits. Though they depart from many of the elements of typical portraits they’re instantly recognizable as such. Shin uses charcoal to build the underlying structure – parts resembling hair, neck, shoulders, and ears. The faces aren’t so much painted as formed by gobs of oi paint. Hints of facial features such as eyes and noses may be ambiguously implied in each piece. However, its really the inner person Shin is after, the echoes of which linger for a moment on the face.
Margaret Nomentana’s nonrepresentational art demonstrates a fascinating balance between emotionality and restraint. Often working in a spontaneous manner, and sometimes working on several paintings simultaneously, her imagery reflects moments of clarity, caught in the act of vision and revision. Whether it’s collage or acrylic painting, her gestures evoke “abstract landscapes of the mind” or terse conversations with color and movement.
Of her own artistic desires, Nomentana states, “My strong minimalist impulse is tempered with a dry sense of humor, irony, and in spite of everything, a powerful sense of hope. Alma Thomas is my hero.”
Artist Fabienne Rivory combines photography, collage, and painting in her work. She often blends two images of landscapes or scenes by bisecting and combining them as if they were reflections of one another. A touch of gouache paint is then digitally added to the photos and completes each of her pieces. The effect on the landscapes is a bit disorienting but familiar. Her work doesn’t seem to document places or times as much as it documents a feeling. The bold color of the gouache contrasts against the black and white landscapes, each pulling something out of the scene, each evoking something different. [via]
The paintings of artist Charlotte Caron explores both the ancient tendency to humanize animals and the dreams of humans to transform into animals. Caron’s acrylic paintings of animal faces are set on the photographed portraits of people as if they were masks. The people of the photographs not only assume the appearance of the animals, but nearly seem to exude corresponding personalities. The hawk seems harsh, the fox mischievous the deer gentle. The literal anthropomorphizing of animals in the paintings emphasizes how this figuratively takes place. Caron also underscores the contrast between human and animal, and perhaps by extension civilized and animalistic, by also contrasting photography and painting.
Swedish artist Camilla Engman sets a calm yet subtle eerie scene of anxiety in her paintings. For instance, a human figure’s face might appear muddled, transforming the safety of a serene woodland setting while the role of a baby or pet might be replaced with a ghosty genderless blob . . . in the most mundane everyday afternoon way.
These instances of nonchalant marring touch on our own youthful fears of masks and humanoids– or “things” that resemble humans, but deceitfully, are not humans. Think Freddy or Jason. Luckily, Engman’s world does not linger too long in these dreadful places. If we mediate on all the images collectively, we start to see her illustrated society as one where such transmutations cross over beyond the weird and into the norms of a progressive accepting society.
Of her craft, Engman states, “For me, the working part has always been more important then the finished artwork. I love to work – paint/draw/cut. But I also have to admit I don’t like to work in vain. So I have to either learn something or to like the finale. In that way this way of creating never fails me. Something always happens. Be aware, there are no shortcuts though. I have to start from the beginning and work myself through it. With an open mind and eye, and with no judgement.”
Maximilian Toth’s beautifully composed chalkboard style paintings depict teenage antics as being not so much about rebellion from authority, but more so, as a series of actions radiating acute aliveness. While favoring the color black, Toth’s strong pops of brightness light up the narrative, mid-action, exposing a new playground of discovery. For instance, there is a certain innate enigmatic pleasure in joyriding a shopping cart around town, simply because, for the first time, without parental supervision, it’s possible. Toth’s work happily meditates on this and other pockets of teenage euphoria without an imposed stringent sense of morality.
It would be too easy to suggest that Grace Mikell Ramsey‘s work only illustrates moments of science fiction or fantasy. This is not what draws us into her narratives. Instead, it’s her ability to capture subtle anticipation– insular moments of contemplation where reality gestures goodbye. Her characters stand on the precipice, holding their breath, surrendering to dreamy whims only young children or covens of three are capable of conjuring, unable to shake a certain heaviness of the pending trade and what is at stake.
Helen Frankenthaler once said, “I don’t start with a color order but find the color as I go. I’d rather risk an ugly surprise then rely on things I know I can do.”
Likewise, we get the sense that LA based artist Caitlin Lonegan’s process is similar. Her color palette (collected here) meditates on the bravery of a spontaneous stark of brightness erupting from the murk. Yet, there is also an overall resonating calm sense of vibrancy that is truly understated, not forced.
As viewers, we can’t help but embrace the comfort and excitement of well laid paint in seemingly simplistic guttural compositions.