Robb Stone is a friend and colleague that I had the pleasure of getting to know during my time at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Stone is experimental with materials, using bleach and acrylic on satin, acrylic on drop cloth and army tent material, and even acrylic on shower curtain. He works in a very washy style and usually makes large-scale paintings, layering several of them along the wall to induce a cinematic and narrative quality.
His earlier work showed his interest in pop culture and current events as he painted what can be described as infamous, narcissistic train wrecks – Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Fleiss in particular stand out among others. The paintings are executed unsympathetically, mocking celebrities most people would like to see buried under the ground. The themes of ‘narcissism’ and ‘train wrecks’ in a more meaningful sense reoccur prominently in the work he has made over the past 3 years, which features subjects who are acutely aware of being filmed, yet appear unthreatened by the film’s permanence and choose to partake in immoral, incriminating acts of violence and lewd behavior. Robb focuses on this behavior to the extent that it has been present in the US’s recent military involvement in the Middle East. So far he has focused on a series of isolated incidences, such as US soldiers urinating on dead Afghan bodies and the US Embassy’s guards in Kabul’s hazing rituals. The content of his paintings raises many questions: were these soldiers inherently immoral individuals, or did war make them that way? Is it possible to be in a situation so far from normal reality that anyone in that situation will lose their sense of morality? Does the context of these soldiers’ surroundings allow for them to believe they are partaking in acceptable behavior? The show-off behavior of these soldiers is perplexing; they are not at all compelled by the presence of the camera to hide their face in shame. Instead, they embrace the exposure.
Dylan Rabe is a fellow artist and friend and colleague of mine. His illustrative works contain all things one could hope to see in a painting. Executed with bold colors and painstaking attention to detail, they fuse together theatrical narratives with assemblages of eccentric subjects, symbolic props, aged furniture, and elaborate décor; he successfully fits all such things into a single painting, typically creating medium to large-scale works. Dylan derives influence from a variety of sources such as 1950’s pulp art, soap operas, science fiction and romance novels. His work is enigmatic and enchanting, and I hope to see Dylan’s work gain further recognition in the future.
Chicago-based SAIC faculty and grad, Amy Honchell works with textiles to craft whirling installations of otherworldly landscapes. Honchell bends cloth, which protects us and keeps us warm, through a warped process that challenges the medium’s association with benevolence. Hochell’s mountainous compositions remove memories of blanket-swathed crib slumber, and stitch the trappings of journey and struggle in their place.
AJ Fusco is a multimedia artist currently living at Skylab Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. His past body of work, seen after the jump, consists of finely wrought, large-scale graphite drawings that put the viewer’s received distinctions between natural and digital imagery in doubt.
Canada to New York to Chicago, Magalie Guerin is an excellent young painter/photographer fresh out of SAIC. She’s currently investigating shape and color relations via painting with quite lovely results, and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing where her work goes next. Magalie has recently shown works with The Suburban, Poor Farm Experiment, Julius Ceasar, and Autumn Space. More jams after the jump!
Just found out about Timothy Bergstrom, a young painting student at SAIC and one of the mighty Jose Lerma‘s students. I must say I approve. Big, awesome, weird paintings made out of lots of stuff like floss, glue, string, paper and paint, of course. Check it out!