One of South Korea’s eminent realist painters, Kwang-Ho Lee’s “Touch” series brings out the tactile qualities of exotic cacti. The desert plants blossom in oblong shapes in Lee’s large-scale works, inviting viewers to examine their thorns, fluff, and smooth skin. Some coiled and others upright and phallic-looking, each plant takes on its own personality. Lee’s paintings are easy to mistake for photographs at a first glance, but his stylized compositions take his work beyond straightforward documentation.
San Francisco based artist Joel Daniel Phillips examines the characters living in his neighborhood in larger than life-sized drawings. His subjects include street vendors and the homeless, each with a unique personality that Phillips captures in hyper-realistic detail. His ongoing series explores themes like how these individuals use objects to retain a sense of home, and promotes social justice.
Italian artist Marco Grassi applies his hyperrealist painting chops to portraits that are slightly unconventional. While he paints mostly young, beautiful female subjects in traditional studio settings, his work becomes remarkable for the surreal accoutrements with which he adorns his characters. In one piece, a model’s back becomes porous with a carved, baroque design — her body hollow like a doll’s. In other paintings, he experiments with colorful body paint, tattoos, fabrics, and even a translucent, shield-like piece of futuristic jewelry. Throughout his portrait series, Grassi uses his skills with oils to create convincing illusions that make it easy for viewers to suspend disbelief.
Kip Omolade’s “Diovadiova Chrome” portrait series brings out the striking qualities of the human face. The artist takes inspiration from African folk art forms such as the ivory masks of Benin and the Ife bronze heads of Nigeria. He considers his work a contemporary exploration of the mask as a conduit between mankind and the spirit world. For his updated take on this timeworn subject matter, Omilade makes plaster casts of models’ faces and uses them to create resin sculptures, which he coats with chrome and embellishes with fake eyelashes. The masks serve as reference material for Omolade’s hyperrealist oil paintings, which pay homage to African cultural traditions in a novel way.
Kevin Peterson’s subjects exist somewhere between a wintery city and sunny Houston, where the artist is currently based. Do a web search on his art, and the response is polarizing. Hyperrealism has become a controversial art form- most admire the excruciating detail, while others disagree with copying tags or photographs. Without question, Petersons’ portraits of children in a graffiti-colored world are emotional and ironic. His current show at Thinkspace gallery, “Remnants”, portrays his own fantasy-urban jungle.
Images of an infant’s face marked with a plastic surgeon’s pen and an elderly woman with wrinkled skin that glows green under the light of a tanning bed are just some of the deeply disturbing images that will be displayed at Gusford Gallery as part of Oliver Jones’s solo exhibition, “Love the Skin You’re In,” opening September 12.