Guest curated by photographer Henrik Haven and author Olly Walker, Urban Nation Berlin’s upcoming group show, “Cut It Out!”, explores the history and current state of stencil art. The exhibition opens on January 31 at Urban Nation’s headquarters and features well-known street artists such as Sten & Lex, Jeff Aerosol, Above, Aiko, C215, M-City, and many others.
Lin Tianmiao is considered one of today’s most notorious contemporary artists in China, especially among women who are under-represented there in her field. Her signature medium is everyday materials, particularly woven textile such as silk, which she uses to convey modern women’s frustrations and identity. This has earned her the “feminist artist” label, one that she rejects. Male or female, her cryptic and ethereal works have captured the imagination for decades. Her “Focus” portrait photo series is currently on view in the “Conceal/Reveal: Making Meaning in Chinese Art” group showing at Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAM).
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).