The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Author: Tracy Jones

These pen-and-ink on paper paintings by Japanese artist Ikeda Manabu personify a complicated world. They are enormous, especially when considering the amount of detail involved. Each painting takes two years of eight-hour days to complete. He builds the images in blocks; usually one four-inch block a day. Manabu doesn’t know what they will look like until they are finished. Read our exclusive interview after the jump!
“My work is about the notion of escapism, and I often see people in difficult situations, people who can’t escape their own reality. We all feel this at some point. I paint about what it means to feel this and to struggle with it,” said artist Schandra Singh. Based in upstate New York, Singh paints intricate portraits overrun with anxiety. They resemble the fragility of the human condition. Echoing the relationship between reality and social media, the people in Singh’s work try to present a more desired version of themselves while hiding who they are in plain site. Take a look at some of Singh's paintings after the jump.
In Japan, the word “cute” or kawaii can be stamped on just about everything when it comes to aesthetics. Cute dogs, dolls, cartoons and cars are the accepted standard. Now picture human bodies with wolf heads tearing each other apart. Pigs crowded around a dinner table salivating over their roasted brethren. Japanese artist and Tokyo resident Ryohei Hase illustrates beautifully disturbing scenes with obsessive detail. Cannibalism is at times a running theme in his work. Using Photoshop and other software, Hase creates digital art that almost challenges traditional painting if not coexisting without notice. Take a look at some of his work after the jump!
Flying saucers, whales, watermelons and white padded rooms collide inside the mind of Tatiana Kazakova. Living in Moscow, Russia, this digital artist and illustrator dismantles the walls of organized reality and builds them back up into a chaotic monument. She creates worlds that contract and dance in the hypnotized eyes of viewers. Her illustrations are a mix of media: They blur the lines between painting and digital manipulation. The social commentary in her work is an assault on the incoherence of life and the noisy brains of humans. Take a look at some of Tatiana Kazakova's work after the jump, images courtesy of the artist.
Hi-Fructose got a chance to take a peek into the hyper realistic world of Dan Witz. Inspired by punk music and graffiti in the late '70s, the Brooklyn-based artist has been painting and doing street art, all the while traveling the world. In his 30-plus years of making art, Witz has built his career by virtually staying under the radar. In the early '80s when he was attending Cooper Union, he saw art as “an agent of change,” but was disillusioned by the commercial art world. He saw it as “exclusive, elitist and kind of boring.” Read more about our studio visit with Dan Witz and see some exclusive photos after the jump!
David M. Cook (featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 17) is the colorblind mastermind behind creatures that would go rage in the night if they were animated. Cook graciously gave Hi-Fructose a tour of his Brooklyn apartment and showed us his workspace. Right now he’s working on his upcoming show for Compound Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Continuing his “Playing Card Series,” Cook is taking the heads of each character and giving them full bodies. His painstakingly intricate drawings are joyously creepy and sadistically funny. Read more and view our photos from the visit after the jump!
Makoto Aida has the ability to simplify a complex concept into a roaring vision of chaotic poetry and grotesque beauty. His art explores the dynamics of the Japanese psyche, incorporating young girls, businessmen, war and politics. Some of his paintings are so big and painstakingly detailed that they take years to complete. For the next several months, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan is holding a retrospective exhibition that spans his 20-year career. Aida’s art includes manga-style painting, traditional Japanese painting, photography, sculpture, video and installation. When Hi-Fructose caught up with the artist, he was at the museum working on an on-going project called, “The Monument of Nothing.” It’s a series of sculptures constructed only out of cardboard and tape. To assist him, he enlists young artists of any skill level to volunteer their time and effort to create their own sculpture. During the interview Aida talked about various topics ranging from his upbringing in a strict household, to merging storytelling into his art. Read our exclusive interview after the jump!

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