Those who have seen Jon MacNair’s work might be surprised to learn that he is greatly inspired by popular children’s literature, fairytales, and Renaissance art. The Portland based artist is well known for his fantastical, quirky ink drawings, often labeled as “dark”, and we don’t mean his monochromatic palette. “Some of my most distinct memories as a kid were of looking at picture books and being entranced by the images,” he says. “Even though most of these books were for kids, there were some pretty dark undertones in the illustrations that stuck with me.” These eventually led to his current body of work which turns classically ominous imagery on its head.
When we try to recall old memories, they usually come back in bit and pieces: faces of loved ones, favorite objects, and sometimes our mind fills in the gaps with things that never were. In painting her own memories, Lacey Bryant couples strangeness with a romantic nostalgia, like an incoherent dream. Throughout the Bay area artist’s work there is a sense of alienation or escape from modern life. Suitcase in hand, her subjects navigate a pretty landscape that can suddenly turn dark, from flowery pink blooms and stately Victorian mansions to fields of abandoned vehicles catching fire.
Italian artist Cristiano Menchini relies on a combination of his memory and imagination and observation to recreate nature in his work. Working in acrylic and watercolor or pen on paper, the artist creates highly stylistic interpretations of overgrown vegetation where small animals like birds and beetles make their home. Elements like blades of grass criss-cross into natural, messy patterns appearing almost abstract, set against dark shadows that lift them from the page. They are not quite reality. “I see my work as immersed in a timeless dimension, unreal state, crystallized. There is a detachment from reality in what I represent,” he says.
Eric Green’s meticulously detailed drawings replicate life beautifully- but there is something off about them. “When you really begin to understand life, everything changes completely all the time. Nothing is ever the same again,” he says. Working primarily in colored pencil, Green draws images that are meant to change our perceptions by illustrating the subtleties between moments as light changes and objects are mysteriously moved by unseen occupants.
Scott Musgrove’s art has always been connected to conservation or extinction. Featured here on our blog and in issues 2, 8 and 24, his paintings feature lush, highly detailed landscapes and up-close encounters with all manner of strange and beautiful creatures. When he paints animals, he brings them back to life and preserves them into their pristine, natural environment. His new work, a magnificent 40″ x 50″ oil portrait of the rhino “Nola” is more than just a preservation of her image, it’s also an homage to the memory of her species.
Hongmin Lee is best known as one third of the Korean art team Goo For Brothers, an increasingly popular collective that Lee founded with his friends and fellow artists Seungchul Oh and Jaejung Beck. They have been creating art together since the early 2000s, working in various media from illustration, fine art, graffiti, comics and graphic novels, and animation. Their work shares a common love for kaiju and experimental imagery, and though Lee has enjoyed collaboration in a group, he’s recently focused on building his solo career as a painter and graphic novelist.