All that should look solid melts right off in the compositions of Alessandro Ripane. Many of his characters have a mass of dripping liquid with plants protruding in all directions in lieu of real faces. Other figures sprout plants from their limbs while their gleaming white bones peek through. Yet these morbid compositions manage to keep a whimsical twist; in some, giant pink ice cream cones drip heavily. Genoa-born Ripane remembers collecting comic books and volumes on wild animals, a habit that definitely informs his strange imagery. Each vignette gives the sensation that the viewer is walking in on the strange characters. A couple cuddling becomes a strange mass of plants, melting parts and mangled flesh. But not all is lost: Ripane makes sure to let one of the figures keep his socks and shoes on. Part Surrealism, part satire and all visceral, Ripane’s works leave few parts intact but offer plenty of visual gems.
Eric Petersen is a methodical, calculated artist. He opts to work digitally to remove any personalized evidence of the human touch. He chooses the colors of his works like a scientist dropping carefully-measured chemicals into a vile: The intended effect of these contrasting, bright shades, says Petersen, is one of unsettlement. He sets up compositions that are at once harmonious and jarring. Geometric shapes appear to slice through his planes with razor sharp precision of placement. Yet their rhythmic arrangements give his work a sense of harmony, even while the electric blue, neon yellow and sunset orange hues simultaneously vie for viewers’ attention.
Mark Gmehling’s 3D-rendered creations are instantly recognizable for their playful textures: rubbery legs that weave and stretch; gummy bodies that bounce off the floor; goo that drips and metal that glimmers. The artist (see our extensive interview in our current issue, Hi-Fructose Vol. 32) began as an analog illustrator and even cites graffiti as an early influence. These days, his digital illustrations lay the groundwork for prints, murals and sculptures. Gmehling has an exhibition titled “Plastic” opening tonight at RWE in his hometown of Dortmund, Germany filled with satirical, off-kilter pieces.
French illustrator and designer Nicolas Obery works with deep contrasts and haunting imagery for his monochromatic digital art series, “Fantasmagorik.” The finely textured, elaborate pieces are sometimes pure imagination and sometimes incorporate photography, but Obery leaves nothing untouched by his digital brush. Even the photographic parts of his work are manipulated and stylized in such a way that they bear great similarity to the expressionistic possibilities of painting. Influenced by the H.R. Geiger, Obery weaves the elements of his work together with a sinewy, tissue-like texture that evokes the biomorphic qualities of the late Swiss artist’s work.
Finnish artist Tapio Mömmö takes utilitarianism to the next level with his digital illustrations, where bodies are fused with the handy tools that enable our survival in the wild. While humans can’t spend too much time in open water, for instance, Mömmö presents a solution in the form of a person, dressed in a practical parka, whose head has been replaced by a fishing boat. Another headless person in snow gear, under Mömmö’s digital knife, has a sled annexed to their torso. Far from elegant cyborgs, these characters offer a comical answer to the fantasy of having superhuman capabilities.
“Sasayaki No Tsudoi” Translation: Gathering Whispers. On Saturday night, Giant Robot celebrated Edwin Ushiro’s new ‘tra-digital’ works on plexiglass (previewed here), a luminous combination of traditional and digital. When we last saw him, it was back in 2010 for his show with Yoskay Yamamoto at Roq La Rue, Ushiro’s first trial with this technique. His unique manner of working was recently documented in Thrash Lab x Giant Robot’s artist documentary series, which played at the opening. It offered a rare insight into his private process of sketching, digitally painting, and reapplying the work onto plexiglass for final, hand painted touches.