Marion Bolognesi makes emotive watercolor portraiture that seems to appear out of the nothingness of their stark, white backgrounds. She often uses drips and large blots to echo the transient feelings that make us human. This technique also adds a nice aesthetic to the artist’s work, which has spawned a few biters and copy artists. Bolognesi demonstrates a lot of economy- the artist’s ability to do a lot with a little is commendable. With such fundamental subject matter, it’s probably best to keep things simple anyway. It’s not always easy to capture the deeper elements of life with grace, but she pulls it off. The artist, who also does illustration and design work, lives in NYC.
Alejandro Cardenas, based in NYC, creates watercolor and guache works in which stark, flat figurative elements blend seamlessly with abstract flourishes and branches of washed out color. Set amidst a deep black background, this work stands out well. Too often, water based media is used as a generator of quaint atmosphere; whimsical drawings that take up very little space on paper or canvas. Cardenas’ work, conversely, is bold and fully composed where others may have defaulted into paltry understatement.
SVA grad Mu Pan brings East Asian woodblock aesthetics to his colorful, animated paintings. Not much of a “Zen” vibe is to be found here, though. Full of life, the Brooklyn artist’s work explodes off the canvas in a rush of sex and violence. Base, animalistic sensibilities are collected and processed en masse within each piece, and hardly any opportunity for impact is passed over. Really engrossing stuff, whether the focus is placed on a few central figures, or all-encompassing atmosphere.
I first got into Zach Johnsen’s work a few years ago when he lived in New York. But for a while now, he’s been in Portland, and it looks like he’s making his raddest stuff yet. He always incorporated fantastic characters into his mixed media work, and he’s continued to do so, creating more wooden cut-out installations and a series of graphite drawings infused with explosive watercolor elements. Johnsen’s always done a great job of rendering the darker side of life. His characters are full of dark eyes and yellowing teeth. Seriously awesome stuff from this dude, always.
Brooklyn artist John Breiner never seems to pin himself down to one medium. Whether he’s using watercolor or ink, he always brings a lot of humanity to the table without sacrificing any aesthetic value. Breiner creates work that is really full- both in composition and technique. He’s also pretty heavily involved with music as well. Seems like he’s got too much going on creatively to really be pinned down in any one place. Definitely not something for us to complain about.
Diggin’ on these illustrative ink and watercolor works by James Ulmer. His repetitious, almost vintage-looking characters roll on and on across the page in a flood of really earnest, straight-up human appeal.
According to the artist’s website, we can look forward to seeing his work in a group exhibition at Grass Hut in Portland very soon.
Carol Carter is a contemporary watercolor artist based out of St Louis, MO. She is such a prolific painter that it proved nearly impossible to select just seventeen images to feature out of the hundreds documented throughout her website. Her subject matter is incredibly varied, ranging from swimmers, nudes, flora and fauna, to interiors and landscapes of the Everglades and Italy. In spite of painting such a vast range of subject matter, her work remains consistent with her personal style; painting with an electric color palette, she saturates values of light and dark with a brilliant range of unpredictable color that often takes on the effect of solarization. Her technique shifts between wet-in-wet application and controlled execution, producing work that is peppered with an incredible amount of detail and spontaneity. Carol’s mastery of watercolor and divergent way of seeing the world is apparent in her remarkable paintings.