When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Search for an Artist on this blog (or cut and paste from the list at the bottom of this page)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seana Reilly

"PeñaFlamenca"  Graphite on paper  20” x 20”

"TippingPoint"  Graphite on Dibond  36” x 48”

"MassWasting"  Graphite on drafting vellum  18” x 18”

"TorrentialConstant"  Graphite on Dibond  48” x 24”

"Schematic 128 (Juliet Is The Sun)"  Graphite on Dibond  30” x 18”

It is not exactly original to say that the arts and the sciences have more in common than most people imagine. But it is unusual to find an artist who incorporates scientific ideas so directly and forcefully into their work. Seana Reilly's art (I'm not sure whether I should even call them paintings or drawings) makes use of and references natural mechanical processes; gravity, fluid dynamics, sedimentation, erosion. Her material is powdered graphite that flows through a liquid medium on a non-porous surface. I love that graphite is simply a basic form of carbon, that basic building material for all of life, a perfect vehicle with which to "draw" the forces of nature. One could easily spin out gleefully on the layers of possible readings into all of this, but in the end what matters is that the images themselves are undeniably mesmerizing. Like electron microscopy or Hubble telescope images, they reveal the workings of nature in new and eye-opening ways. An earlier series of "Schematic" images was more grounded in representation, directly referencing human technologies. These are delicately corroded by the processes that would eventually become the very corps of her work. Go to her website to see many more images and don't pass up the video to get a better idea of how it's all done: www.sreilly.com
Seana Reilly's work was recently featured in New American Paintings #100

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fabian Jean

"Takeover"  2012
"Escape"  2012
"Hold"  oil on linen  34" x 40"  2011
"A New World"  2008
"In the Balance"  2008
Fabian Jean is an artist in Quebec whose work seems very familiar and yet unexpected at the same time. There's no denying his technical skills. I love the scumbled layering of the brushwork and he has a great feel for dramatic color composition. The subject matter has veered away from his earlier figurative and portrait work but even then his images were carefully choreographed arrangements of visual elements. This formal tendency has become more pronounced. Much of it has a kind of decorative feel explicit in his graphic elongated cloud forms (as in the piece "Hold" above) and he's clearly referencing historic sources, especially early Chinese painting. There are other realist painters out there who use animals and still life compositions in similar combination, to create odd and suggestively symbolic motifs. But Fabian Jean's images are sometimes just a twitch more off kilter than the usual fair in this vein. For me that makes all the difference. Throughout his work there is at once both a sense of humor and a peculiar kind of loneliness. After writing these little micro-reviews for four years you'd think I'd be better able to say what I mean but there it is. Sometimes you just have to look and see.
There are a few images at his gallery's website: www.godardgallery.com
but for a larger survey of his work over the last six years go to his Flickr page.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Serban Savu

"New Road"  oil on canvas  30x40cm  2011
"Spring Cleaning"  oil on canvas  97x135cm  2010
"Iara Valley"  oil on canvas  87x120cm  2011
"The Tunnel"
I've said before that usually I like to post artists that are promoting their own work. Usually that means they have their own website, and usually that means they are still trying to break into the big time (whatever that is). Serban Savu appears to be a pretty well established artist from Romania whose work shows not only there but also at well respected galleries in both New York and Los Angeles. I just wanted to share because I immediately fell in love with their spare simplicity. They have that same kind of workman-like and deceptively unglamorous brushwork you see in Edward Hopper. I think the comparison is an apt one beyond that as well. Like Hopper, Savu uses very careful compositions and lighting effects to create a powerful melancholic mood around ordinary people in the midst of their daily lives. Edward Hopper's world was the early and mid 20th century in America. Savu's is contemporary eastern Europe. Somehow those two worlds don't seem all that far apart.

You can see more of his work at the following gallery websites. Each has quite a few paintings to look through:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vonn Sumner

"Warrior (Fallen)"  oil on panel  14.25" x 12"  2011
"Warrior (Slouching)"  oil on panel  15" x 11.75"  2011
"Amnesiac"  oil on linen  47" x 47"  2011
"Sienna"  oil on canvas  50" x 70"  2008

study for "Lookout"  watercolor on paper
Vonn Sumner's work, whether on a grand monumental scale or in small intimate paintings, is iconic. The word iconic is overworked and overwrought these days, but think about the original meaning of the term, the visual representations of Jesus or the saints in early Christian art. They were not meant to be portraits but mere symbols of the object of veneration, used as an aid to devotion. Von Sumner employs a minimalist approach to detail and composition in depicting realistic but cryptic images that can be seen as creative meditations on psychological states. Whew. OK... that sounded phony as all hell. But I'm serious. His paintings are of real people, but they are not about that person at all and so not portraits at all. The individual becomes a character, an object, a repository for a single idea. And it is that single, simple, curious, cryptic idea that is the point.

Interestingly Von Sumner describes his art education as developing backward historically, first learning about abstraction and expressionism which were well entrenched "establishment" forms at the time. Then gradually working back to the renaissance and (importantly) beyond. He describes his encounters with the content of that world vividly in an interview. Much of painting throughout pre-modern history is symbolic, often with a very precise visual vocabulary. And most of that visual vocabulary is alien to us now, meaningless without historical annotation. But Sumner says that "the very inaccessibility to those meanings draws me to them." And so "It’s about creating a pictorial and emotional, psychological space for the viewer to have an experience and if the experience is linear or literal or verbal then I don’t get what I want from it." Icons of ambiguity if you will. Works for me.

The strength of his work builds as you look through more and more of it so please, go spend some time on his website: www.vonnsumner.com

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gabriel Liston

"I'm Going Ashore To Hunt"  Oil on linen  30" x 46"  2012

"I Know Who's Drowned - It's Us"  Oil on linen  34" x 48"  2012

"Say the Prayer For the Dying"  Oil on linen  54" x 42"  2012

"Their Efforts are in Vain"  Oil on linen  14" x 16"  2011

"We Will Be Rich For The Rest of Our Lives"  Oil on canvas  48" x 36"  2008

Gabriel Liston who is originally from Colorado, has a show up right now in Portland, Oregon where he currently lives and works. I happened to stop by the other day (if you're in the area it's only up until Sept 1). His work is immediate and disarming, the brushwork and drawings gestural, almost cartoonish at times but lovingly done. His palette of luminous greens and blues, dark browns and pale pinks perfectly captures the cool forest clad atmosphere of his new home in the pacific northwest. His subject matter is, in his own words, "Children tearing apart the world from the inside out, in those places where the world shows its seams." The quote is slightly cryptic but poetically captures the aching nostalgia for an innocence that never truly was. He depicts the interaction of childhood and the wide world without the interference of an adult reality. The results are only borderline idyllic, for in these dreamlike reveries lies all the tension and pathos that can makes the transition to adulthood so profoundly painful. He develops his imagery by accruing huge amounts of sketches and notes, then translating these into more finished work in the studio. The story book feel of the images is no accident either. The artist has an affinity for old books which he often uses as material for smaller work, often converting the book itself into his canvas. His titles are usually scavenged from these books, and their suggestive narrative potential perfectly suit the evocative imagery.
You can see more at his website: www.lastwater.net
or at his gallery websites: www.froelickgallery.com & www.plusgallery.com

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kevin Arnold

"Blue Totems"  oil on multiple canvases
"Economy Folding Table / model no. H-2232"

"Triple Braced Quad Hinged Beige Metal Hercules Folding Chair"  oil on canvas

"Stay"  oil on multiple canvases
"Annunciation"  oil on canvas

Kevin Arnold's work is a fine a fun combination of objective realism and conceptual installation work. Well some of it anyway. But the thing that all of his work has in common is the use of Trompe L'oeil (french for deceive the eye) technique with a kind of minimalist modern  aesthetic. His subject matter is the invariably the mundane; objects that are utilitarian and normally perceived as uninteresting in and of themselves. He also depicts such mundane images as a tiled wall, the inside of a box lid, or a drywall patch. Most of this is depicted at a 1:1 scale so the the painting visually becomes a stand in for the thing depicted. All of this is of course a way of addressing the very idea and value of realism. His work was recently included in New American Paintings (#100) in which he quotes John Updike: "My only duty was to describe reality as it had come to me - to give the mundane its beautiful due."  People intuitively equate art with beauty. But artists (in fiction, in film, in painting) ask us over and over again, "What is beauty?" For many the answer is everything. It's merely a matter of looking at it all anew.
To see more go to www.notkevinarnold.com

Monday, August 6, 2012

Valerio D'Ospina

"Manhattan"  oil on panel  48" x 32"  2012
"Train Tracks"  oil on MDF  30" x 24"  2011
"Train Cars"  oil on canvas  55" x 71"  2010
"Chicago Alley"  oil on melamined MDF  24" x 17"

"Ship Under Construction"  oil on MDF  42" x 30"  2011
Valerio D'Ospina is an Italian artist currently residing in the U.S. A background studying, replicating and even restoring antique works of art lends his own work a solid academic backbone. But he plays with technique, creating a dense array of streaks, washes and scratches to build up some truly rich images. Color is only spotty if present at all. Indeed, they are more drawing than painting really, but what drawings! The technique may at times be a bit jarring and it works less well on some images than others. But for the most part it is succeeds beautifully, creating a vibrant and frenetic energy that captures the turmoil and raw energy of his urban/industrial subject matter. The artist is not commenting on all of this, as so many artists today seem to do. There is no message of warning or lament. There is a certain bleakness to the scenes, due primarily to that monochromatic pallette, but mostly he just seems to be enthralled by the whole glorious chaos of it all. And he attacks his canvases, panels and boards with the same unbridled confidence as a captain of industry.
There's lots' of work to see on his website: evdospina.com

originally seen on artistaday.com

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jonas Löfgren

"getaway"  graphite on paper  2012
"The House"  graphite and watercolor  2009

"Nowhere"  graphite on paper  2011

"The Cellar"  graphite on paper  2010

"Diamond #8"  graphite, ink and watercolor  2011

Jonas Löfgren is a Swedish artist whose work fits into that wealthy vein of contemporary work called pop-surrealism or sometimes low brow art (there's some confusion about the terms). European takes on the genre tend to be less literal than their American counterparts, more cryptic, less obviously eye-winkingly ironic. Many elements here are common tropes: the generally realist rendering of cartoon like figurations of pre-adolescent characters at odds with a dark confusing world. I enjoy this kind of work in general as anyone whose been following along with me for a while would probably know. I like the lack of pretension, such a welcome relief from all the inaccessible over conceptualized material that haunts the museums and galleries of the high end contemporary art world. But despite the lack of pretension, there is a tremendous amount of both skill and emotional honesty on display. The work is both personal and reflective of a global cultural point of view (which I'm still struggling to pin down and define... no doubt when I do it will have long since moved on). Mr. Löfgren brings to all of this his own unique bag of images and props as well as a haunting drawing style. You can see plenty more including some animation work on his website: www.jonaslofgren.com