David Hornung makes paintings from both oil and gouache. He paints quiet simple, small houses located in fenced fields, bucolic scenes of nature, solitary women and men, memento mori, snakes and birds, paths and walls. Objects in his paintings seem to be a distillation of universal human experiences with the world and among each other. Some objects are singled out as being important by a kind of twin cloud, the direction of light, or glowing patches of color. The paintings are beautiful executions of color theory, which makes sense because David wrote the book on color theory “Color: A Workshop Approach.” His subject matter hovers between observation and the symbolic, and he refers to Philip Guston’s Alphabet series with plain respect, and like Guston, David was reluctant to talk about image-based thinking. We walked through Brooklyn on the way get some lunch, and David said that painting is hard to talk about because the ideas come out of working with images, that the process gives painters their ideas, which is a kind of reversal, because for most people who work with ideas – the ideas generate the process.
You can see David Hornung’s work at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson NY from May 23rd to June 16th.
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Serena Cole. See the full studio visit and interview with Serena and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Serena’s studio is in her Oakland apartment, a modest space that she has efficiently rigged to accommodate her needs. She’s set it up so that her studio takes up most of the apartment’s square footage, but she keeps things flexible with furnishings that are easily moved and rearranged. I’m always impressed with resourcefulness and am appreciative of the kind of ingenuity that comes out of necessity and that manages to circumvent a set of limitations. In fact, the idea of limitations kept coming up for me in thinking about Serena’s artwork because her pieces are very much visually dictated and confined by her reference material. Her work directly appropriates the fashion imagery of advertising campaigns and editorial spreads, highlighting the patterns and tropes used to elicit desire and encourage consumerism. In taking on this imagery, her work attempts to examine what is revealed about our collective psychology, the culture of consumption and escapism, and the complexity of fantasy. In our conversations, she acknowledged that she isn’t so much trying to create something new, but instead aims to deconstruct already existent imagery in the appropriation of it. But this is a slippery slope— in being so tightly tethered to the aesthetics of the fashion world, Serena’s work runs the risk of coming off as analogous instead of questioning. Serena is aware of this risk— in creating art within a framework already heavily loaded with well-established associations, value, and perimeters, she knows the trick is to get the viewer to recognize that there is actually a lot at stake amidst the glitz and glamour.
The Queen of lush and juicy paint Allison Schulnik opened up her studio to Beautiful/Decay and Visual Creatures to give our readers insight into the world of sad hobo clowns and her painting and animation process. Allison discusses how her paintings inform her animations and vice versa, the long history of artists in her family, and how Los Angeles allows artists to have quiet time in the studio yet have a community.
Melissa Brown makes art which deliberately engages the precarious mental territory where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, not in the sense of a narrative which may or may not be true, but in the sense of the inconsistency and vagaries of perception when vision gets a hard slap of imagination. A little over a year ago Beautiful/Decay did a studio visit with Melissa where we discussed her large scale prints (made with a steam roller) and scratch tickets collages of dizzying geometric complexity.
No trip to SF is complete without visiting St. Francis Fountain, the ultimate brunch spot. I ordered the wrong thing and my server was cool enough to bring me the right stuff without gruff. I felt like I should have given him some B/D shirts or a book but I didn’t have anything with me. I have no idea what his name was but someone reading this blog has to know him. Blonde dude with tats who looked like a surfer/skater type and was wearing a hat with the rim bent back ala Suicidal Tendencies style. If you know who he is email us on our contact page so I can send him a care package for the great service. Okay let’s head back south….
I just about fainted when I got some behind-the-scenes studio pics back from Skinner, one of our featured artist from Book 3, including his van?! Holy triumphant-unicorn from hell-monster-mash-Crystal-stash-Wizard-spell lightening bolt riddled beast of awesomeness! His studio is like a headbanger’s ball, topped floor to ceiling with multi-sided-die, long lost relatives of Iron Maiden’s Eddie the Head, the occasional red plastic party cup, and treasures that seem to exceed a greedy dragon’s doubloon pile indeed.
I’m excited to check out the new works that will be up at San Francisco’s White Walls August 14th. In his words, the exhibition will include: “large old timey halloween mask replicas of my own design, 24 epic psychedelic fantasy paintings inspired by my own unhealthy feelings of global dread…one epic painting (a week for six months was the goal I set and im well under way and about to finish my 17th piece). And they are getting larger as well…” And a partridge in a pair tree. According to Merlin’s crystal ball, the future holds great things for Skinner indeed- we’re excited to see what he comes up with!