Argentinian artist Francisco Diaz (aka Pastel) uses a distinct visual language in his murals. He fills his walls with patterns based on the local flora of the area he’s painting in — an effective way to connect with the communities he encounters in his travels. His botanical references often address history, geography, society, and politics. Along with these nature-based elements, Pastel often paints ancient, Stone Age tools to glorify humanity’s strength without referencing a specific culture. His distinct yet decorative style lends itself well to collaborations with other street artists, such as Pixel Pancho and Agostino Iacurci, who both worked with Pastel recently.
Johnny Rodriguez (whom we first featured in HF Vol. 7) got the moniker KMNDZ from his graphic design profession. Pronounced “Command Z” — as in, the “undo” option on a Mac computer — the nickname alludes to both his trade and the themes in his personal artwork. Introspection, sorrow, and sometimes regret permeate his paintings. Rodriguez uses a network of self-created symbols to talk about his painful past experiences through surreal imagery. His solo show at Merry Karnowsky Gallery’s KP Projects in Los Angeles, “I’d Rather Love You,” opens on February 7. Take a look at our preview of his show below.
Looking at the paintings of Korean artist Egene Koo is like piecing together a puzzle. Her dramatic red portraits of anthropomorphic characters are meant to be allegorical. Just as the tortoise and the hare taught us the rewards of patience and focus, there’s a mysterious moral to Koo’s images. From what we can gather from her titles, her work addresses lessons about change and sin, such as narcissism and greed. At LA Art Show, Koo’s gallery Keumsan also pointed to her themes of environmentalism and our relationship with wildlife, represented by the variety of animals she paints.
On January 21, Kehinde Wiley was honored with the United States Department of State Medal of the Arts for his contributions to the White House’s cultural diplomacy outreach. Wiley’s opulent paintings (featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 29) are known for sparking conversations surrounding race, colonialism, and the art historical canon. He has traveled the world to paint people of various African diasporic communities (see our coverage of his last solo show, “The World Stage: Haiti,” here).
Bob Schneider is what you might call a multi-disciplinary talent. He spends the majority of his time making music but still manages to create fascinating collages between gigs on the tour bus or from his home studio in Austin, Texas. He began his career as a fine artist and successfully transitioned to an award-winning musician and songwriter. Yet throughout his music career, he has maintained his creative mojo by producing new art in different media (check out his blog for proof) as well as exhibiting in galleries and museums. Presently, Schneider is working on several new collage works and has recently entered the studio to record his next album, King Kong.
Upon viewing Adam Makarenko’s photos of snow-capped mountains, turbulent waves, and rare wildlife, one might picture the artist as a fearless world explorer. But Makarenko, who also works as a director and cinematographer, actually creates these images without leaving his studio: They are photos of tiny dioramas he painstakingly builds. Makarenko’s work toes the line of believability but almost always betrays its artificiality after a few moments of inspection. While his jagged cliffs and flowing rivers are all sculpted, the artist does occasionally employ real bees that hover over his landscapes like giant monsters.