Kehinde Wiley’s larger-than-life paintings (featured in HF Vol. 29) insert black and brown individuals into the typically all-white history of Western portraiture. His subjects, a majority of whom are urban males, are cast in poses that assertively beckon old master paintings of European kings and emperors. Some gallantly ride horses, while others don regalia. All figures peer commandingly at the viewer in Wiley’s 14-year survey “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum.
If the Addams’ family’s Thing multiplied and mutated, it would resemble something like Alessandro Boezio’s sculptures. The artist works in clay and fiber glass to create creepy-crawly anatomical forms that remix the human body. Boezio is particularly fascinated with hands and feet, often mingling digits and limbs in unholy ways. Though there’s nothing particularly explicit about his work, seeing severed hands standing up by themselves without a body attached is enough to make our skin crawl.
Although he is best known for his humorous graffiti and imagery, Kenny Scharf has long been interested in more serious political topics. His solo exhibition “Born Again”, opening this Saturday at Honor Fraser gallery, highlights his unique ability to make the mundane more fun. In his latest series, bright and colorful palette and wacky shapes are painted onto repurposed, found art. It’s not all fun and games for the artist, who sees his comical approach as an act of defiance.
March 14th marks the third solo show for San Francisco based surrealist Leilani Bustamante (covered here) at Modern Eden Gallery, “Haunt”. Her work often voices themes of mortality exploring elements of death, rebirth, and beauty. Inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ supernatural story “The King in the Yellow”, her show offers newly haunting, romanticized scenes that follow an abstract narrative. In the story, characters such as artists and decadents are followed by an ominous entity known as “The Yellow King” which induces fear and slowly leads to the unraveling of their self identity. They are further plagued by the theme, “Have you found the Yellow Sign?”, an eerie symbol of nonhuman origin and purpose that is never fully explained.
Italian artist El Gato Chimney will present a series of mystical watercolors in his upcoming solo show at Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn, “De Rerum Natura” (which translates to “The Nature of Things” from Latin). Opening March 5 and on view through April 30, the exhibition features whimsical works that pull pagan symbolism from a variety of cultures to create a fictional world of animal deities and anthropomorphic spirits. Though Chimney delves into various spiritual traditions, he does so with a sense of humor. His work is filled with absurdist juxtapositions and open-ended symbolism that alludes to a forgotten time that never truly existed.
Erik Johansson disrupts the quiet stillness of life in the countryside with images of idyllic scenes gone awry. His photography borders on photo illustration, as Johansson takes great liberties with his imaginative editing. In one piece called Land Fall, for instance, a field drops off into an abyss like a waterfall, leaving a small cottage on its precipice. In other works, Johansson muddles the distinction between indoors and outdoors, creating optical illusions that play with our understanding of space. In addition to working on his personal projects, Johansson is a commercial photographer and the highly-polished look of his commissioned work comes through in his fine art.