Last weekend, Pictoplasma (previously covered here) returned to Berlin for their 11th annual showcase of Contemporary art and design trends. Pictoplasma is well known across the globe for its character design annuals, but the festival also highlights fine art, street art, illustration, toy design, animation, and graphic design. This year saw a continued interest in character-driven Pop surrealism, which addressed modern societal issues through kitsch and cute characters by an eclectic roster. Over 40 international artists took center stage with an extensive program of workshops, lectures at Babylon theater, and two major exhibitions- Pictoplasma’s main exhibition “Form Follows Empathy” at Silent Greene and the Pictoplasma Academy Group Show at Urban Spree.
Oakland-based artist Jaime Lakatos’ sculptures have risen from the ashes — quite literally. Lakatos imagines a dystopian world not far along on our trajectory of environmental destruction. She burns her hunting trophy-like busts of various animals until their surfaces become blackened and charred. Lakatos created this technique to portray her animals in a “confused state of cross-species evolution” in order to broach the topics of unchecked scientific progress and human expansion. Coming up at Empire 7 Studios in San Jose, Lakatos’ solo show “Cinderscape” will debut a new series of sculptures, installations, and paintings on May 8.
While Allen Linder’s main pursuit is marble sculpture, his drawings of organic, otherworldly shapes contrast greatly with the precise forms he carves from stone. In his graphite works on paper, murky, cloud-like spheres seem to come together and pull apart. They unravel into abstract shapes that at once appear macro and micro, recalling both cell formations and the galactic patterns from outer space. Linder expertly renders both liquid and solid textures in these nebulous works.
Tristan Eaton (HF Vol. 34) is such a versatile painter, his collage-like murals often include a combination of typography, realistic portraiture, illustration, and patterns — all rendered freehand with spray paint. His ability to mix and match various styles within a single, cohesive image lends his work well to collaborations, like the ones he completed over the course of the past week with fellow street artists Cyrcle and How & Nosm in Brooklyn.
New Zealand based artist Peter Stichbury combines attractive good looks with ugliness in 1950s style portraits. His Big-Eyed young subjects represent non-conventional beauty, something we can find in today’s supermodels and misfits alike. Stichbury regards these young people as a collective group in society, which he renders in a style that flattens their facial features to a non specific point. In their abstract, clone-like similarities, they become anonymous and linked to one another. They are intentionally deprived of human emotion, owing to their awkwardness. At the same time, his aesthetic can be regarded as strangely realistic.
Through a unique process of applying thin, translucent layers of monochromatic, acrylic paint to a panel over and over, Travis Louie (HF Vol. 32 cover artist) mimics the effect of 19th-century photography. Though filled with fantastical characters, his works have an effect of verisimilitude much like historical documents from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. For his latest solo show, “Archive of Lost Species,” which opens at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle on May 7, Louie abandons the studio portrait format we’ve seen before. Instead, his latests works look like snapshots of strange monsters, sometimes observed in the wild and sometimes interacting with their human counterparts.