Russian artist Yulia Brodskaya creates playful illustrations, installations and paper cut works using a unique method she developed after leaving her graphic design job in 2006. The artist rolls tiny strips of colorful paper into spirals that she aggregates into larger shapes, creating textural works that lie somewhere on the horizon between two and three dimensions. Her whimsical, springy work invites a sense of optimism. While paper cut art is typically a small-scale medium, Brodskaya often creates mural-sized artworks and installations for commercial clients, using paper to transform rigid spaces into fantastical realms.
As an artist whose illustrations have natural fluidity, it’s no wonder that Kelly Vivanco found herself painting water in “Peculiar Tides”. Her latest solo at Thinkspace gallery has a water theme, an element that has captured our imagination for centuries. Water is a source of life and vitality, doomed disasters, bold adventure stories and some of the world’s most curious mysteries. Telling its story is an undertaking felt by Vivanco’s roughly 40 paintings created over 8 months, sculptures, and a narrative starring childlike heroines that vaguely resemble the artist.
London-based illustrator and artist Martin Tomsky turns the dancing line of the pen into dynamic sculpture with his multi-layered woodcuts. In one artwork, several wood pieces in varying degrees of brown are cut into swooping arabesques and lain over one another to create the essence of a whirlwind. At the center, a cube is trapped inside a slightly larger box. A larger-than-life insect with menacing fangs watches over the heart of the piece, as if protecting Pandora’s box. In his illustrations, Tomsky invents fantasy worlds where good and evil battle one another in nature. The same thematic oppositions can be seen in his woodcuts. Trees and clouds meld into one another to create a single ominous sky-canopy. In the darkness below, owls hide in trees, supposedly from the giant bearded millipede that wraps itself around a central tree trunk. The ground below, sprouting with mushrooms and speckled with unknown creatures, is as petrifying as the sky above.
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.
Toronto-based artist Christine Kim creates intricate collage pieces that explore the idea of boundaries — both in her choice of materials and narratives. She looks to investigate the idea of displacement and how it borderlines transient and permanent conditions. She specializes in illustration, installations and sculpture.
There seems to be a history running through Carmel Seymour’s water colors, but it’s hard to pin down. Somewhere in the hazy but sublime gap between art and illustration, the paintings suspend an alternate reality in the canvas’ mid-air, depicting some hyperreal folklore in a wash of negative space. Seymour’s conceit seems simple enough: she places contemporary figures, such as girls in jeans and sneakers, in some private oasis, perhaps the figures’ dream landscape or perhaps some alien planet. But the landscapes where her figures exist are not so much ‘scapes as objects; entities without a before or after. Her water colors are deployed in highly restrained and linear strokes to focus on details, and then exploded to disrupt the hyperrealism and maximize the medium’s atmospheric emphasis. The paintings have no clear beginning or end, but beg the question: what’s the story here?