Jessica Hess considers herself a landscape painter, but rather than capturing vistas of waterfalls or forests, her paintings document the ephemeral graffiti she observes in Oakland, San Francisco, and in her travels (see some of her paintings here). Adding another layer to the images-within-images she has going on in her work, Hess teamed with sculptor Christa Assad to create a collaborative series of hand-painted ceramic sculptures. Assad created wheel-thrown, constructed stoneware pieces that take inspiration from Hess’s subject matter — spray cans, paint buckets, fire hydrants, pigeons, and other markers of urban detritus. Hess then hand-painted them with acrylic, filling them with images of tagged-up cityscapes. Hess has an exhibition coming up at Art Works Downtown in San Rafael, CA on March 6 and some of these collaborative ceramic pieces will be in the show.
Polish artist Jacek Yerka’s paintings invite us into a world where things are not what they seem. Caves turn into gaping dragons’ mouths, houses float above the clouds, and gardens become seemingly infinite puzzles of time and space. The artist blurs the boundaries between the biological and the mechanical, creating strange hybrids of animals, architecture, and geological formations. Yerka began his career making band posters in the 1970s and has been exhibiting his work in Poland for decades.
A skilled hyperrealist painter, Eloy Morales creates large-scale portraits that play with the expressiveness of the human face. Often using himself as a subject, his mural-scale paintings immerse his viewers in the hairs and wrinkles of his subjects. With each face towering over the viewer, the details becomes much more apparent than what we see in our day-to-day interactions with others. Morales often uses the face as a sort of canvas, as well. For many of his self-portraits, he lathers himself in paint to create an interplay of textures. In other pieces, he covers his sitters’ visages with props like googly eyes and butterflies. If you find Morales’s skills impressive, he frequently teaches painting workshops in Madrid, where he is based.
Japanese artist Toru Kamei creates sensual, dreamlike paintings that reference nature and mythology. While some of his pieces delve into the enchanted worlds of serpentine gods and mermen, other works offer a surrealist take on vanitas painting. Like the Northern Renaissance still lifes, Kamei’s work meditates on the fragility of life and the imminence of mortality. But his work takes on a bizarre dimension when one notices the eyeballs popping out of the flowers he paints, making them look haunted and eerily alive.
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.