Italian artist Cristiano Menchini relies on a combination of his memory and imagination and observation to recreate nature in his work. Working in acrylic and watercolor or pen on paper, the artist creates highly stylistic interpretations of overgrown vegetation where small animals like birds and beetles make their home. Elements like blades of grass criss-cross into natural, messy patterns appearing almost abstract, set against dark shadows that lift them from the page. They are not quite reality. “I see my work as immersed in a timeless dimension, unreal state, crystallized. There is a detachment from reality in what I represent,” he says.
New York based painter Walton Ford, featured here on our blog, is well known for his monumental watercolors of animals. From his tongue-in-cheek depictions of King Kong, to mythical 60 foot serpents, and epic battles between beasts, his works take the visual aesthetic of traditional natural history painting and apply it to an often bizarre and fantastical narrative. Ford recently debuted six new paintings at Paul Kasmin’s booth at Frieze New York, an homage to the incredible journey of a black panther.
In 2016, the watercolors of Moira Hahn recall the woodblock prints of Japan’s Edo period, which ended nearly 150 years ago. Even with endearing, anthropomorphic animals in the place of human warriors or villagers, there’s a refined quality to the work that feels centuries-formed. And hidden within these pieces, you’ll often find charming, humorous narratives and modern-day commentary.
Swedish artist Benjamin Björklund lives a simple life in a farm house on Sweden’s west coast and his oil and watercolor paintings reflect this life. His work usually portrays the people and animals that surround him, such as his dog, Solomon, and other pets like rabbits, pigs, and mice. He’s also inspired by physical or emotional situations that he has experienced throughout his life; before becoming an artist, Björklund had a varied career working as a prison night guard, a psychiatric nurse, and a veterinary technician student. To look at Björklund’s paintings feels like looking into a dream.
Melancholic girls find themselves in moments of quiet drama in the works of British artist Craww and San Francisco based (and Hi-Fructose co-founder) Annie Owens. Where Craww’s pieces feature heroines with an almost spiritual-like quality, Owens’ black and white watercolors and sketches enhance the mystery of her subjects. Both artists will present new works in side by side solo exhibitions opening on October 29th at Antler Gallery in Portland.
Berlin-based artist Anna Lea Hucht creates drawings, watercolors and ceramics with solemn, and sometimes sinister undertones. The works have an aesthetic lightness which betrays their more disquieting subjects. Upon first look, Hucht’s domestic scenes are peaceful, tame. However, closer observation reveals individuals forlorn, lost among the trinkets and knickknacks that fill their homes. Hucht’s artworks are intriguing for their exacting detail that lends a specific personality and history to the people depicted. For example, Hucht offers clues about a woman seen behind a bookshelf containing a flask and beaded fringe lamp situated between ceramic vases and kitsch figurines.