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.
Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti’s pop sculptures take jabs at everything from Barack Obama to religious ideology (see angry Jesus on the cross after the jump). Working in a large range of mediums from hand carved marble (like the above Batman & Superman sculpture) to cast resin, Perucchetti’s work has the perfect mixture of ironic wit and social critique.
German painter and photographer Sigmar Polke (1941 – 2010) died yesterday from complications of cancer, according to Gordon Veneklasen, the artist’s main American representative. Polke invigorated the world of pop art and beyond with his parodic examinations of consumerism and politics, especially those concerning post-war Germany. The artist resisted artistic conventions by expanding on ideas of “what art is” with his multi-faced, mixed media pieces.
“We cannot rely on it that good painting will be made one day. We have to take the matter in hand ourselves,” Polke once said. A bit of an understatement, but I’ll allow Polke’s “good painting” to speak for itself. Check out more of my favorites after the cut.
As a founding member of Italian design group Memphis, Milan-based artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier has designed a plethora of poppy, bright, and playful textiles, pieces of furniture, and design objects. Since the group’s disbanding in 1987, Nathalie has become more of a traditional artist, creating paintings and sculptures clearly steeped in the distinctive Memphis aesthetic.
Tomokazu Matsuyama was born in Japan. He moved to the US when he was around ten years old, not speaking any English, and being overwhelmed by the culture shock of 1980s Los Angeles. His work is a reflection of this upbringing. Matsuyama’s paintings envision traditional Japanese imagery through the lens of American pop art, creating a unique and beautiful hybrid.