Colombian artist Johan Barrios seems to be fascinated with how quickly the superficial veneer of propriety can disintegrate. His well-heeled and well-groomed characters are outfitted with all the signifiers of upper class status — blouses neatly tucked into pencil skirts, tailored blazers, leather couches. Yet by omitting select details in his realistically-rendered works, Barrios endows them with a sinister tone. In one piece, a woman lies despondent on a glossy, tile floor. Black party balloons hover over her like an ominous cloud. A creeping suspicion sets in as one begins to wonder whether this polished world hides dark secrets.
Beijing-based painter and illustrator Alice Lin creates nostalgic, whimsical works on paper. The world she develops evokes Victorian-era storybook illustrations with its lush, ornate flora as a recurring decorative motif, but the artist’s imagery is far more contemplative and melancholic. Using watercolor and natural mineral pigment, she envelopes her characters in a marbled texture with wisps of gradients that seem to float though her scenes like fog. As viewers, we come upon her characters in moments of contemplation, staring with downcast eyes or obscuring their faces from our gaze.
The natural world is a never-ending source of inspiration for Italian artist Marco Mazzoni (Hi-Fructose Vol. 20 cover artist), whose colored pencil drawings explore the worlds of pagan healers, midwives and herbalists. These women were deemed witches at various points in history, for their knowledge threatened the patriarchal power structure of the Christian church. Mazzoni specifically culls his imagery from 16th-to-18th-century Sardinian folklore, studying the region’s historically matriarchal culture. His latest exhibition of drawings, “Immune,” will open at Thinkspace in Culver City on November 8 alongside Keita Morimoto’s show “Tronie.”
Christina Mrozik creates detailed mixed-media drawings that reimagine her experiences with nature. She makes beauty out of the chaos of the animal kingdom, stylizing birds’ bodies to fit into still life-like arrangements ornamented with flowers, bones and branches. But despite the stylistic similarities to still lifes, Mrozik’s cranes and owls appear highly animated. She depicts the animals’ struggles to survive, rendering the battles between species with graceful choreography that almost resembles a form of dance.
Polish-born, German-based designer and illustrator Sebastian Onufszak has created graphics for dozens of big-name clients — from Karl Lagerfeld to Starbucks — but in his personal work, he pulls out all the stops. Onufszak’s chaotic drawings and paintings look as if the lid of his subconscious was taken off completely. Characters are piled together in an orgiastic cacophony of faces and limbs; every color of the rainbow is used liberally; loud, seemingly meaningless text is scrawled everywhere that it can fit. Calling his style dreamlike would be an understatement, as few of us have dreams quite this vivid.
Working from her Brooklyn, NY studio, artist Zaria Forman creates pastel landscapes inspired by the beauty and vastness of the sky and the sea. Hers is an art created for facilitating a deeper understanding of a world in crisis. She is fascinated by the constantly-changing nature of water and inspired by the challenges of her medium.