Yellena James explores a wildly flourishing imaginary ecosystem in her solo show “Radiance,” opening at LeQuiVive Gallery in Oakland on January 10. While paintings of flowers are traditionally on the tame side, James’s work is far-removed from your average still life. Her flat, stylized flora explodes from every corner of each piece. The brightly colored, biomorphic shapes are ambiguous and suggestive, sometimes even overwhelmingly energetic. James draws and paints them in combinations of acrylic, marker, and ink, inviting a playful dance of various textures. “Radiance” will include a site-specific mural at the gallery, as well.
One of the most striking features of David Slone’s high-definition portraits is his treatment of his subjects’ skin. In each larger-than-life oil painting of an anonymous individual, Slone zeroes in on the way light hits the sitter’s face. He shows us how a peach tone can fracture into dozens of different, subtle hues. Slone makes pores and hairs visible in the way they are only when we press our face up to someone else’s. His works thrust his viewers into an intimate interaction with his subjects.
Jaime Brett Treadwell’s paintings gleam like the finish of a newly tricked-out low rider. The candy-colored works on panel feature prismatic geodes levitating above otherworldly mountain ranges and lagoons. Treadwell’s new body of work departs from his formerly pop culture-heavy imagery. Bikini-clad characters once inhabited his intergalactic oases like an MTV Spring Break set in outer space. But for his upcoming show “Trick Magic,” opening at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco on January 17, Treadwell significantly pared down his style and opted to focus on the glossy, alluring geometric forms at his work’s foundation.
Peruvian artist Jade Rivera pays homage to the locals of his native Lima and other cities he visits in his travels with large-scale murals, watercolors, and oil paintings. His work typically starts with a realistically rendered human figure. Rivera adds surreal details by smudging the colors and adding ghostly silhouettes. He is particularly interested in the connection between humans and animals. Depicted in masks or as apparitions, the creatures in his work seem to function as spirit guides for the people he paints.
Zin Lim paints sculpted bodies and faces with twinkling eyes before wiping them away with textured paint strokes. While the San Francisco-based artist began his career painting classical nude figures, his work has grown increasingly abstract over the years. Lim leaves just enough figurative details in each piece to give viewers a relatable entry point into the image. The human characters’ presence guides us through the expressionistic markings the dominate the rest of the canvas.
Manic characters grin wildly in Aaron Johnson’s over-the-top, explosive paintings. The Brooklyn-based artist’s work overflows with gross-out humor and in-your-face sexuality, which he renders in a color palette of hyperactive, neon acrylics. While paintings on fabric comprise the majority of his work, Johnson has an ongoing series of sculptural sock paintings (made from used, donated socks from his social media followers, mind you) that evoke both assemblages and D.I.Y. puppetry. Darkly funny, Johnson’s gag-filled work nods to the over-saturation of violent and sexual imagery in our media culture with its blatant absurdity.