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.
This Saturday, Merry Karnowsky gallery will present three side by side solo shows by Los Angeles based artists Mercedes Helnwein, Kim Kimbro, and Vonn Sumner. Together, their new works are elaborate and psychologically intense, depicting dream like moments. Read more about their respective shows, “Mama Said Amen”, “The Queen of Calvary”, and “Gravity and Other Lies” after the jump.
Setting soft and supple nudes against graphic patterns and textures, Brooklyn-based painter Sharon Sprung utilizes the tension between abstraction and realism to appease her own inner dichotomies and create art that expresses emotional complexities. But unlike many artists who muddle the polarities of figuration and abstraction into ambiguity, Sprung leaves them distinct, engendering a contrast that intensifies the impact of each.
The hyper-realistic oil paintings of Joshua Suda will make you question whether you’re looking at a painting or a photograph as he recreates the features of the human face with stunning accuracy. Going beyond replicating life, many of Suda’s pieces also have elements of surrealism. Bizarre compositions, mixed with Suda’s impressive attention to detail, result in uncanny contortions of the human face. He often breaks the fourth wall, playing with the foreground and background to make it appear that the subject is bursting through the surface of the piece. In other works, he paints to mimic other media, replicating the detail of everything from pencil drawings to old photographs and contrasting them with how the subjects might appear to the human eye.
Chilean artist Alvaro Tapia finds something sinister even in his most innocent subjects. His portrait illustrations feature friends, famous people, artists and others he admires. What lurks beneath the surface in these subjects — something grotesque and often evil — is what most attracts the artist. The end result, however, is far from ugly. Bursting with color and life, his portraits are high-impact. Tapia arranges contrasting colors, vector lines and geometric shapes so that they vibrate off one another. His subjects not only seem alive but ready to jump off the page right at the viewer’s throat.
Rifle through French artist Julie Sarloutte’s art supplies and you might find not tubes of oil paint, but dozens of thread bundles. At first glance, her works appear to be paint on canvas, the unmistakable palette knife angling and impasto streaks making up portraits and muted scenes of political violence. But looking closer, you might see the pop of thread coming through, as all pieces are meticulously hand-embroidered by Sarloutte, who also dabbles in mosaic and yes, paint.