Originally from Prague, Frank Kortan began his career as a musician before moving to Germany and making the switch to painting in the 1990s. His work is surrealist in the traditional sense of the word. He mixes symbolism to brew strange concoctions of imagery that represents the chaotic milieu of the subconscious. A student of philosophy and psychology, Kortan frequently references thinkers like Freud and Breton in his paintings. His realist painting skills make it possible for viewers to suspend disbelief and enter the bizarre world of his imagination.
Celebrated Colombian artist Fernando Botero will show some of his most important works from over the course of his lengthy career in his retrospective, “BOTERO,” on view February 19 through the end of March at Gary Nader Gallery in New York. Known for the rotund figures that inhabit his paintings, the 82-year-old-artist had his first solo show in 1951. Since then, he has made a name for himself internationally for his poignant work, which often features social and political critiques. Some of the proceeds from “BOTERO” will benefit El Museo Del Barrio, a Latin American cultural center in New York City.
Raised in Los Angeles in a family of immigrants, Julio Reyes says that one of his biggest inspirations is the human ability to overcome adversity. His family’s journey to the US and their tumultuous quest for citizenship has always been a guiding light in his work. “I have always been moved by the human capacity to love, dream, and persevere, with great courage and sincerity, in spite of what can often be, a vast and unsympathetic Nature,” wrote Reyes in an email to Hi-Fructose. Because of the struggles he has personally faced, Reyes says he has cultivated a keen sense of empathy that he seeks to convey in his oil paintings, which often feature solitary figures in moments of contemplation.
Portland, Oregon-based painter Jeff P. (who goes only by his first name and last initial) remixes traditional scientific illustration techniques to create psychedelic images inspired by nature. Home to Native American peyote ceremonies and multitudinous wildlife species, the southwestern desert has always been a site of escape and self-discovery in the American psyche. Jeff P.’s colorful, surreal paintings of snakes call to mind these connotations. While his early work resembled flash tattoo designs, his latest paintings utilize the ornate patterns of various snake species to create colorful, dreamlike designs.
Shih Yung-Chun paints surreal re-imaginings of everyday scenes, where adults occupy themselves with strange activities like bored kids creating their own games during summer vacation. Puppets, dolls, animals, and figurines are recurring motifs in Shih’s world, which seems believable yet slightly off balance. The Taipei-based artist inserts autobiographical snippets in many of the paintings: Some of his scenes are set in his own house and he and his white French bulldog make occasional appearances. Shih has referred to his works as “soap operas,” hinting at their highly fictionalized nature. Take a look at some of his work below.
Beata Chrzanowska illustrates the intoxicating feeling of a first kiss with her mixed-media paintings. Inspired by Art Deco, she frames her subjects’ faces in geometric patterns with bold color schemes. Within each piece, her imagery oscillates between flat and voluminous, calculated and spontaneous, and the narrative storyline gets lost in the decorative motifs that dominate her work. Originally from Poland, Chrzanowska was raised in Chicago and is currently based in New York. In addition to her paintings, she has a portfolio of collages that share a similar interplay between figurative and abstract. Take a look at some of her recent paintings below.