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, September 27, 2012

Alex Lukas

Untitled  ink, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, silkscreen on paper  17" x 50"  2012

Untitled  ink, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, silkscreen on paper  25" x 72"  2012

Untitled  ink, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, silkscreen on paper  25" x 72"  2012

Untitled   8.75” x 12”  Ink, Acrylic and Silk Screen on Book Page  2012

from the show "Beyond the Parking Lot: The Change and Re-Assessment of our Modern Landscape" Curated by Cynthia Connolly   August - November, 2012, Artisphere, Arlington, VA

Artists don't seem to have too much trouble acknowledging the reality of anthropogenic global climate change. Sometimes they seem to almost relish it. Distopias and apocalyptic visions are part and parcel of contemporary outlooks on our not so hopeful future. Let's hope that these catastrophic visions turn out to be merely warnings that help us stave off the worst possible outcomes. But what is it anyway about doomsday predictions that captivate and even entertain us so?

Alex Lukas' vision of the coming crisis is centered squarely on global warming and takes two main forms; Cityscapes either submerged by risen oceans or engulfed in noxious gases, or a panoramic view of a semi-submerged marshy heartland. The latter are wide sweeping vistas that capture the vastness of the desolation. The skies are never clear The only islands that rise above the waterlogged plains are the abutments of old overpasses now covered with clinging weeds and punctuated here and there by the skeletal remains of paltry trees. Much of the exposed man made material is colored in brightly patterned graffiti as if during the gradual collapse, a kind of anarchic attempt at order was imposed upon the land by vigilante designers. Or perhaps they are the remnant designs of desperate advertisers trying to eke out every last man made space in pursuit of a vanishing market economy. It is the details and nuances of these panoramas that really make them come alive, if I can use that metaphor for what are essentially depictions of a dying world.

note: because of the format you may want to click on some of the images above to view them somewhat larger. The details really matter.

More of Alex Lukas' work including installations and print/design work can be seen on the artist's website: www.alexlukas.com
Many paintings that are not on the artist's website can be seen at: stevenzevitasgallery.com/alex-lukas

Monday, September 24, 2012

Luke Jerram

Avian Flu - H5N1

Entovrus 71 (EV71) - Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

SARS corona Virus
E. Coli

Lately I've posted quite a few more successful artists. Sometimes it is difficult to tell just how successful an artist is even if I knew what constituted success for an artist. The point of an artist's website is to promote the artist, and that means highlighting successes. But when an artist can feature a photo of themselves shaking hands with the queen, I'm ready to concede that they are probably doing pretty well for themselves. Having pieces in the permanent collections of museums around the world is another good sign. Anyhow...

Luke Jerram does a lot of different kinds of work: installations, live art, sculpture. It's the sculpture that caught my attention. Actually just a single series of work; these giant glass microbes. I love it when science and art sidle up to each other and get cozy and occasionally share some koodies. I think art generally benefits more from these trysts than science and I'd say that's the case here as well. But Mr. Jerram does make some excellent scientific points concerning the work. Images of microorganisms are derived from electron microscopy and are usually enhanced with color. The color is generally arbitrary and used primarily to help distinguish the various elements of the image. But in fact most viruses are smaller than the wavelength of visible light, so they can't really have a color. His glass sculptures of these viruses, made in consultation with virologists using a variety of images and models, thus have a lot of merit as scientific illustrations and have been used as such. Beyond that, they're just really really cool.

Luke Jerram is an idea guy. It needs to be pointed ou tthat he did not make these sculptures himself. They were in fact produced in collaboration with glass blowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch.

There's plenty more viruses to look at and a lot of other cool stuff on his website: www.lukejerram.com

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Paul Fenniak

Sleepwalker   2012   Triptych - Each panel  54" x 24"

"Parachutist"   2011   72"X60"

"Offshore"   2011   72"X60"

"Cold Front"   2011   54"X48"
"Portrait with Light Switch"   2011   24"X20"
This is the kind of painting that made me want to be an artist when I was a kid: full of energy and life, beautifully executed, and just off kilter enough to be absolutely mesmerizing. Some of it makes me think of Odd Nerdrum with a sense of humor, or an early Lucian Freud who gets outside a bit more. There's all kinds of comparisons that spring to my mind but none that really strike home, for the work is idiomatic and the idiom is all Paul Fenniak. The painting is traditional but richly so, and beautifully handled. It lends a depth and luminosity to his somewhat whimsical drawing style. And both of these serve to give an uncanny power to his antic narratives, narratives that seem to cross all kinds of emotional and physical states: disquiet, calm, urgency, pathos, humor, the spiritual, the inane. These are not scenes from real life of course. They're intensely contrived, often bordering on the absurd or the surreal, but as in any form of art, from fiction to film, it is not always realism that best reflects how it really feels to be alive.
There's much more to look at on his website: www.paulfenniak.com
and the work at his gallery (forumgallery.com) has a very nice detail viewer that allows you to scroll over the work and get a close up view of every part of the painting. Well worth it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Carolyn Swisczc

"Food Court, Santa Fe NM"  acrylic, relief ink and rubber stamp on canvas  48" x 73"  2011

"Whitney Lobby #1"   acrylic and relief ink on canvas  36" x 48"  2011

"Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Austin TX"  acrylic and rubber stamp on canvas  48" x 73"  2011

"Karate Extreme"  acrylic, ink, relief ink and rubber stamp  18" x 22"  2005

"Showcase Cinemas, Revere MA"  acrylic, relief ink and rubber stamp on canvas  48" x 72"

Carolyn Swiszcz (pronounced Swiz for those like me who have to be hear every word or name in their heads) is an artist currently in St. Paul Minnesota, whose work is like a series of encounters with modern American architecture, both ordinary and extraordinary, banal and peculiar, and often all of these at once. She has a vivid graphic style using acrylic paints, printmaking techniques and even rubber stamps, that somehow captures a surreal atmosphere to scenes we might otherwise pay little or no attention to; a strip mall, a lobby, an old motel, the marquis for a suburban cinema. Through composition and careful attention to patterns and shapes, she draws out details of the innocuous and makes them interesting with the simple trick of forcing us to look at them. She seems to see through the ordinary and find within it, not banality, but a delicate mood of acute nostalgia and haunting melancholy. The addition of figures in some of her more recent work, often an adult with a child, brings a degree of warmth to the images, but suggests to me that the haunting quality is in part the haunting of our own childhood, that often too dimly remembered time when nothing was ordinary, simply because everything was new. Recapturing that perception and communicating it with an adult's knowledge and skill, is essentially the very heart of the artistic endeavor.
You can see more at her website: www.carolynswiszcz.com
There are a lot of images available and slightly larger at here gallery's site: stevenzevitasgallery.com

thanks to the folks at http://www.booooooom.com for posting her work.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Robert Sato - new show

"Siege" from the new show "Haunts"

untitled from the new show "Haunts"

"Island"  watercolor on arches paper  16" x 17"  2011

"Asleep at the Wheel"  watercolor on molachi paper  9" x 9"  2011

"Ghost Ride"  watercolor on molachi paper  35" x 84"  2011

I posted some of Robert Sato's watercolors just one year ago (Sept. 1, 2011), and had almost nothing intelligent to say about the work except that I liked it. Well, I still do. And if I happened to be in L.A., which I'm largely grateful not to be, but if I was, I would most definitely go see his new show "Haunts" (along with artist John Pham) which is currently up at Giant Robot through Sept 26). Robert's work often depicts conglomerations of objects, flying apart or coming together to form new objects. Individual items are often morphing into other things or are in fact two things at once, or perhaps unrecognizable pieces of a something else altogether. There is no doubt that surrealism is the most useful label here, but there is sometimes a more conscious meaning. The chaos that seems ever present here reflects the chaos of our post-industrial world which has turned out to be just the opposite of industrial age dreams. Hopes for technological solutions to all the world's woes and an orderly arrangement by human reason have given rise instead to confusion, unpredictability and possibly, in the end, collapse and disintegration. Robert Sato's vision is not a grim commentary on all this, but rather one of a lively participation in the ensuing anarchy.
Please check out his website: www.robsato.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shane Guffogg

"Ginevra de' Benci #6"  Oil on canvas  30" x 24"  2011

What I like about these paintings is how they take an important and early early impetus for abstraction and turn it on its head. From it's very beginning and running through such diverse movements as abstract expressionism and color field paintings, abstraction was all about abandoning the illusion of depth, flattening the canvas as it were acknowledging that painting is a 2-dimensinal art form. Shane Guffog's work embraces the illusion of depth, but does so without resorting to outright representation. The paintings are built up slowly in varnished layers through rhythmic repetitive brush strokes. The varnished layers give the work a luminous depth (like the sky of a Maxfield Parrish painting (about as polar opposite from twentieth century abstraction as it is possible to get). This also heightens the three dimensional illusion, while the rhythmic brushwork seems to suggest mathematical ideas of stochasticity and chaos theory.
You can see more at the artist's website: www.shaneguffogg.com
or at: Leslie Sacks Fine Arts

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sam Dargan

"The Celestial Abduction of Henri de Rochefort at the Behest of the Third Republic, 20th March 1874"  Oil on canvas  130x110cm  2012

"The Sea Won't Save You, Vidkun Quisling (Wrong Place, Wrong Time #2)"  oil on canvas  50x30cm  2012
"Christ’s Entry Into Paris, 18th March 1871: A Diversionary Tactic"  Oil on Canvas  2011-12

"Rue Charles Peguy, Road to Mulhouse: 18th October 1977"  Oil on Canvas   130x150cm  2012

"Cold War Bolt Hole (at Home with Dean Read)"  oil on canvas  30x24cm  2011

from "A Bad Year for People"  2007
Sam Dargan is another "successful" artist but new to me and so I'm posting his work here, because.. well damn it... I like it. I have to admit that looking back over his earlier work I was slightly put off by the overwhelming  jaded cynicism of it all. That's not really on display here and you'll have to do the googling for yourself to see what I mean. But there are remnants of it in his long obtuse historical referential titles. Those too put me off at first but actually they're rather fascinating, once you dig into them a little bit. For example "Rue Charles Peguy, Road to Mulhouse: 18th October 1977" is a reference to the assassination of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, a former SS officer by the Red Army Faction, aka the Baader-Meinhof gang. His body was left in the trunk of a car by the side of the titular road. That strip of pavement in the foreground becomes so much more significant. But the images themselves are only loosely tied to the narrative titles. The actual images have their own historical reference points, most especially the romantic landscapes of artists like Caspar David Friedrich (it seems that lately I'm finding a lot of artists harking back to the great Friedrich, whom I recall my art history teacher poo-pooing a bit as mere sentimentalism significant only in its historical context. I love how that stuff turns around).

Here's a link to a better review than mine from the Guardian. And here's a couple links where you can look through some more of the artist's work: