Allison Diaz’s collage series ‘Haunted Mirrors’ was borne out of her fascination with a disorder known as Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness – a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired – which led her to explore the shifting perspectives of identity and the way we perceive ourselves and others.
Ellen Rogers photographs are bewitching pictures, drawing you into an animistic world that lies somewhere between pagan and gothic, magical and fantastical. Her beautiful muses seem to float above a reality, free to express themselves yet somehow trapped, caught in an rich, sumptuous image of their own making. It is a strange dichotomy; sexual and emotional freedom and the entrapment of the individual within their own fallibility.
Rogers has an insightful vision, she is clear in her intention, is knowing of herself, is able to express the alluring quality of beauty in subtle ways, an innocence and intimacy created through a layering of colours and forms within a simple compositional arrangement. What’s most gratifying about these photographs is that they are analog pictures.
Chrysa Koukoura’s illustrations are wonderfully simple, well executed pen and ink drawings that are at once bold and confident. Much of her work is inspired by nature – possibly because she grew up on the small island of Rhodes – and she seems to have an infinity with the natural world, an understanding, as if lived through.
Living in an age of super saturated digital colour as we do it comes as a relief to find a designer and artist who enjoys the simplicity of black and white. It’s refreshing. A breath of fresh air. As she says herself:
With a slight hesitancy in working with colour, I use fine pen on paper with meticulous detail, my aim being to draw the viewer in for a closer look. I love the simplicity and the restrictiveness of working in black and white, as it requires me to bring something extra out of an image that wouldn’t usually be there had a colour been involved.
Josh Smith’s paintings and collages bring to mind the notion of artist as trickster, forever subverting established norms; the role of the artist, the meaning of aesthetics and what is good and bad art. Smith challenges us, his pictures somewhat arbitrary, almost anti – aesthetic often beginning with his name – a signature style perhaps – or a simple fish or leaf motif which he then plays with, chance his operator.
Nina Surel’s collages may look like they belong in a fashion editorial but look closely and you’ll quickly realise that they’re complex collages that explore what it means to be a woman far away from the social constructs of modern life. Rather than hit us with hard feminist theory Surel uses the romanticism of the past to build up a rich layered tapestry with a variety of materials – including photographs, lace, buttons, sequins, fabric, porcelain, jewellery and resin on wood – to question the woman’s role in society.
Chris Verene‘s photographs from his ‘Galesburg Series’ is an incredible document of understated emotional power. For nearly 30 years Verene has been taking pictures around his family and his hometown of Galesburg in rural Illinois. The simple photos are an unstaged, unflinching, honest portrayal of a side of American rarely seen, an ordinary yet beautiful diary that gives us an insight into the American mid – west and its gradual dilapidation.
Vincent Broquaire’s drawings and animations are simple, surreal, hilarious, smart and so well drawn. The way he views things, the mundane, is so clear, vital, as if he sees the wonder in the everyday and delights in telling us his stories. What’s more his mix of technology and nature is seamless, inviting us to look closer at what we take for granted.
Paula Scher’s celebrated ‘Maps’ paintings are wonderful expressionistic cartographic images of the world as seen through human eyes, at once a social, political and personal description of the World and its intricate connections described by one of America’s most celebrated graphic designers.
These maps are not mathematically correct, they are not a travel guide, a geographically accurate document rather they are pictures that abound in swirling torrents of information, undulating layers of boundary lines, place names and cultural commentary. It is obsessively collated, created and above all personal, an individuals view of the world we live in. Colour, form, typography all play a part in Scher’s history of the world. Here’s what Scher has to say about her paintings:
The World is a painting about information overload. It depicts the world as swirling information that is always changing, often inaccurate, while somewhat illuminating. It is expressionistic information.
I began painting maps to invent my own complicated narrative about the way I see and feel about the world. I wanted to list what I know about the world from memory, from impressions, from media, and from general information overload. These are paintings of distortions.
The way the maps work is that they’re total abstractions, and yet they have all this meaning attached to them
Simon Winchester the writer, journalist and broadcaster had this to say about Scher’s maps:
A Paula Scher map is both detached from reality and yet at the same time becomes an entirely new reality, one that manages to be useless and essential all at once. What follows here is cartography as living art — fun and whimsical, obsessively made, and knowingly offered, lovingly, to be read…Maps such as these are never ever to be replaced by the cold blinking eyes of the GPS. Use them, enjoy them, glory in their madness.
Pretty much says it all. If you love these maps you can buy them in a beautiful book off Amazon.
John Murphy AKA Sineload is a digital illustrator and artist, now based in Madrid, who began his artistic life as a painter with a passion for abstract expressionism and the work of Sean Scully. Well at least he was when I was at art college with him. Decades have passed since then and his work has moved on, as has his process and materials, all continually evolving, moving, changing.
Ivanna Vidal recently submitted her photographs to me; her first steps into the world of the sub – conscious, a tentative foray into a realm that is complex, vast and full of possibilities. Especially for a young photography graduate. Vidal is interested in the psychology of the image, how we represent ourselves, the dichotomy between the public and private, the masked and the open. These photographs are a good example of this search, this journey into the inner life of the individual, of her.
Kari Medig’s photographs from his ‘Back To The Land’ series is a wonderful antidote to the previous photo series I posted up. Gone is the debauchery and riotous behaviour and in comes contemplative space and an attempt to capture the the relationship between man and nature in rural Canada.
Medig has been immersed in photography every since his parents used to drag him, his sister and the dog around remote areas of Canada taking photographs of wild mushrooms, forests, lakes and mountains. Ever since that moment he has been taking pictures of his beloved Canada, finding a way to bring man and nature together in harmony. Medig has been on a journey, or as he puts it, purposefully wandering, finding the commonality in everything and in these pictures he looks to redefine the Canadian relationship with nature. As he says himself:
This relationship is often depicted in Canada in terms of survival, but I want to show that it can also be contemplative, joyous, humorous or harsh. This theme influences much of my work even when I’m not shooting in Canada. The first image is of Malcolm, a fellow whose expression and presence I feel really embodies the more mystical side of the human/nature relationship.
The human/nature interface creates an edge we are constantly walking along, especially in rural areas. Historically, this tension is often depicted in terms of survival, but I wanted to show it could be a bit more contemplative, joyous, humorous, yet still occasionally harsh. Once I realized this, the project seemed to take on more of a cohesive form
There are beautiful pictures; simply constructed, with a clear intent and overriding sense of connection to life. We all need more of Medig’s contemplative spirit in our lives.
Stacy Kranitz’s photographs from ‘The Lurkers’ series is a provocative look at youth culture in the northern Appalachian region of the United States. It’s a riotous, debaucherous, violent, disturbing, crazy look at a group of young people who, year after year, hang out at an annual get-together/festival/party and go for it, no holds barred – as you can see from her pictures.
These photographs of kids getting high, burning cars, moshing, fucking, drinking, skating, swimming and so on is Kranitz’s attempt to demystify stereotypes, sum up experience, interpret memory and history.
Richard Wilkinson puts most illustrators to shame, his deft soft line and ability to tell a story through simple composition is quite extraordinary. His aesthetic is almost mathematical, his characters often reductive, rendered with a single movement; there is no line or colour that is not needed, has no purpose. It is utilitarian yet has much to say.
Sophie Cape’s paintings and etchings come from an interesting place. As a former elite athlete – she was a champion downhill skier who had to stop due to multiple injuries – her approach to art is very much the same as it was in her former life. Now, rather than train and compete in competitions she fights with the force of nature in an attempt to express herself, to push boundaries, endure the emotional journey of mark making.
Cape’s work is often made over a period of weeks in the Australian outback where she exposes both herself and her work to the elements, each composition an expression of her relationship to the landscape. This physicality, her use of soil, bone, charcoal, pigment give her work a viscerality, primal mark making that is reminiscent of the paintings by our ancestors, a need to say ‘I exist’.
This is incredibly honest work, moving and extremely physical, an action almost, a deep desire to reconnect.
Cecily Brown’s paintings are a lush, energetic mix of figuration and abstraction, her work a step beyond abstract expressionism, the canvases chaotic and filled with riotous and vivid colours applied in thick gestural swathes that give her figures a sensuality that recalls the work of everyone from the great Baroque artists of the 17th Century such as Poussin and Rubens to the great abstract expressionists of the 20th Century.
It isn’t surprising that Brown’s paintings are seeped in art history as her family have been at the cutting edge of contemporary art since the 1950′s. Her father, David Sylvester, was one of Britain’s foremost art critics and was an early champion of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Richard Hamilton and the other ‘Young Turks’ of British Pop art.
our next DIY arts festival, the Trash Culture Revue, will take place sometime towards the end of the year. So if you want to create, produce, get involved, play, experiment, try stuff out, have fun, design, administrate, organise, volunteer or just come along then let me know
we provide free creative and production skills for your arts projects and events through our skills exchange so you can experiment, fail, make and play no matter who you are, where you are, what you do or when you do it.