It was just last year that Henrik Aa. Uldalen painted a mural on a massive building for a street art project called Ugangprosjektet in Drammen, Norway. Days ago, the artist posted a photo of the piece being destroyed on Instagram. Several of his followers offered their condolences and outrage in reaction to seeing the elegant, dramatic portrait demolished. Words like “heartache” and “crushing” were used; sad emojis rampant. But here’s the thing: Uldalen not only knew this would happen to his work, he counted on it.
In the simplest terms, San Francisco-based painter Emilio Villalba creates portraits. Yet, these works are crafted at a crossroads of two influences, as cited by the artist: master works and the human condition. As a traditional portrait can captivate with the subject’s eyes, your own gaze must adjust first to the distorted points of entry in works like “Disorder,” above. In a past artistic statement, Villalba says his work is what happens when “the familiar is fractured and distorted by outside influence.”
Interpretations of Lyon based Eric Lacombe’s mixed media works and paintings have been varied and extreme: monstrous, melancholy, horrific, and even beautiful. Describing his art as “caricatures of the soul”, the self-taught artist’s images exaggerate and distort his characters’ faces into haunting portrayals. Their faces look almost like masks, some painted without mouths or eyes, or given bird-like beaks, and yet their transfiguration is the most revealing thing about them. Each is a sort of reflection of the artist’s own feelings, who likens his subjects’ appearance to a deconstruction of their torment.
Often times, the paths we take in life are unexpected. Brooklyn based artist Hanna Jaeun first studied apparel design and it wasn’t until she spent two years in a corporate job that she realized it wasn’t the life she wanted. She decided to start over, picked up a paint brush and taught herself how to paint. Over time her art ventured into a dark place where hybrid figures and animals journey into the unknown, similar to the uncertain path Jaeun chose for herself. “The people in my paintings are either physically part-animal or longing to be animal… My animals bring to life my desire to tell a story,” she says.
Czech artist Jan Uldrych questions reality in his fleshy and atmospheric paintings. Though the artist hesitates to provide any specific meaning for his work, we can find some clues in his titles; paintings like “Anatomy of memories” and “Mild decomposition landscapes” point to Uldrych’s interests in the visceral and anatomical, which he abstracts into Rorschach test-like images.
The intricate abstract works of Miertje Skidmore internalize and transform the environmental extremes of the Australian landscape. Her paintings suggest the otherworldly- each abstraction could be a birds-eye-view of a multicolored planet. Her palette makes use of mineral and elemental colors that wouldn’t be out of place in some of the most rare enclaves of nature.