Christian Rex Van Minnen’s remarkable paintings showcase a mastery of traditional oil painting techniques that are paired wildly with a fascination for historical painting, witty humor, and a strong inclination towards the grotesque.
His still lives pay homage to Dutch vanitas painting yet, even using modes of traditional depiction, they expand to encompass modern sensibilities through the addition of present-day objects and graphic symbols; rainbows, uncanny mushrooms, Cretaceous plant life and hearts and stars accompany decaying flowers, rotted fruit, and scenic lands far away.
His portraits reference the unconventional Mannerist painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo, as well as contemporaries such as Glen Brown and Ivan Albright. Like his still lives, Christian’s portraits are conventional in composition and style, yet his subject’s faces are unrecognizable, malformed and undefinable. They are constructed from a cluster of earthly refuse; human and animal skin, organs and entrails, fruit, insect parts, fur, and textiles come together to emanate feelings of unease, horror, and wonder through intricate, realistic depiction.
Hailing from the Edinburgh College of Art, Sarah Muirhead’s portraits of eccentric strangers conjure an immediate feeling of intimacy. With poignant insight towards her subjects, she offers a sympathetic narrative of their lives by meshing together scraps of the subject’s environment and superficial appearance; these carefully selected details are window dressing compared to the clarity of soul that is depicted. A beer bottle, patch of leopard fabric, facial wrinkles around the eyes, brick with graffiti, a strip of red fence, bodies covered with tattoos – each have their place within the individual’s story. The subject’s gaze is often to the side and aloof; however, this does not prevent the viewer from being captivated. Beautifully painted in acrylic on canvas and board, Sarah’s paintings are compelling representations of passersby easily forgotten in everyday life.
New York-based photographer Alison Brady makes some pretty bizarre photos. Pretty and bizarre. The interesting and different perspective is what catches your eye; instead of a traditional beauty-in-the-person snap, these portraits give the car-accident-look- away urge while simultaneously pushing a strange narrative inside a beautiful anonmity. Take a look after the leap.
I’m usually into very loud and boisturous paintings but there is something extremely rewarding in the quiet and subtle portraits by Shauna Born. Each modestly sized painting features a sitter looking blankly into the viewer. The sitters don’t do much in the paintings but the piercing looks in their eyes warn you of a hurricane of emotions that is to come.
Buddy Nestor’s abstract portraits of female artists are veiled paintings that capture the figures psychological likeness rather than the literal. Described by the artist as “Spiritual X-Rays”, they are a dark exploration into what lies beneath the skin.
I’ve been a fan of Stefan Ruiz’s work for a while, I collected most of the issues of COLORS magazine he worked on several years ago. He documents people, places, and objects from around the world that are both strange and familiar. I especially love his portraits; he conveys so much personality and narrative in such concise elegant images.