New York-based artist George Boojury paints animals that often return the viewer’s gaze. His large-scale ink works on paper (10 feet long is typical for one of his pieces) invite his audiences to confront majestic, wild creatures head-on. In setting up this interaction, the artist quietly prompts us to contemplate our relationship with the animal world. Boojury paints with great detail, mapping out every hair and wrinkle. Bob cats and buffalo pose nonchalantly against white backgrounds that evoke a photo studio. Though Boojury’s imagery is stoic and straightforward, one can’t help but be reminded of the perils wildlife faces as human activity further encroaches on its habitats.
Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz subverts canonical portraiture by playing with viewers’ expectations. Poised damsels that evoke Renaissance-era nobility stand with their hands clasped and their faces replaced by oyster mushrooms, cockroaches and shrubbery. It’s as if in spite of all the pains these ladies have taken to appear proper and civilized, nature has reasserted its dominion. Juzkiewicz is specifically interested in portraits of women and uses her work to study the ways women have been presented over the course of European history.
LA-based artist John Guy Petruzzi creates detailed watercolor paintings filled with illustrations of the natural world. While his figurative depictions of various bird and plant species are rendered with the precision of scientific drawings, the milieus these characters find themselves in morph into abstract shapes that reveal the cloudy, liquid characteristics of his chosen medium. Petruzzi works on a polypropylene synthetic paper to amplify his work’s preoccupation with environmental issues. Lately, he has created entirely abstract works filled with dripping pigments. “My latest series, ‘SPILLSTONES,’ exploits the materiality of poured pigment to recall ongoing cycles of resource extraction,” said the artist.
German artist Claudia Antesberger paints enormous, overwhelming canvases that sample veritably every color of the rainbow. The first thing that catches the eye when viewing her work, the fluorescent hues evoke childhood pleasures like My Little Pony or Skittles. But among the candy-colored, biomorphic masses, Antesberger explores erotic subject matter as a way of apprehending the subconscious.
Italian painter Dario Maglionico creates voyeuristic paintings that put his viewers in the position of a fly on the wall. Set in cozy, domestic interiors, his works feature characters that aren’t completely there. Maglionico paints ghostly outlines of incomplete bodies — outfits and hairdos that float without their human wearers, smeared blobs of color where facial expression would be. His characters evoke specters of people who once inhabited these spaces. Alternatively, they could refer to the subjective nature of memory — remembering the past as how we would like it to be, not as it was.
Painter Fabio D’Aroma’s characters perpetually march westward, though it’s unclear to what end. His nude men and women with protruding bellies and knobby limbs appear to be part of an endless procession. D’Aroma adorns them with anachronistic accouterments such as 19th-century bayonets, animal pelts and punk rock mohawks, making it impossible to determine the continuity between the various works in the series. His highly stylized paintings are currently on view at New York’s Jonathan LeVine Gallery through November 8 for his solo show, “West of Ovest.” The artist says that our culture’s crippling obsession with social media — and the resulting social awkwardness — was the inspiration behind his ungainly figures.