Neo Grotesque: New works by Christian Van Minnen

by Annie OwensPosted on

Christian Van Minnen challenges the concept of portraiture in his new show “Neo Grotesque” opening at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle this Friday.

“My painting process incorporates abstraction and representation that result in a chimera of flora and fauna. I draw inspiration from the work of Dutch Golden Age painters and natural sciences in equal parts.This show presents 10 new works and several landmark pieces from 2007-2008 of neo-grotesque or chimeric portraiture and still-life. I have been painting within the context of portraiture and still life as I find that within these traditions there is a pre-existant, and nacent visual language in portraiture and still life paintings. The viewer interacts with a portrait or a still-life in a certain way that is different and unique to those traditions; an inescapable mirror to our humanity. Like all of us, I am a suffering thing and this is how I attempt understand it.” – Christian Van Minnen

Untitled Figure 2 (Manfungus Series)

Still Life 2

Still Life 1

Untitled Figure 3 (Manfungus Series)

Van Minnen’s works feature biological monstrosities painted in portrait form with a Renaissance formality. Like a strange cross between Giuseppe Arcimboldo, H.R. Giger, and a natural history museum, van Minnen’s painting straddle the line between disturbingly ugly and serenely beautiful. His newest work is his “Keyhole” series, in which a painted riot of organics ooze and flower on panel underneath another panel that has been cut out with the outline of a famous historical painting and burnished in rusted metallics and placed over the top. Van Minnen will be exhibiting 11 new paintings and a small selections of works painted in 2007-2008 that showcase his “Neo- Grotesque” style, a term that was recently coined for the resurgence of artists working with subject matter traditionally deemed unattractive or repulsive, but representing them in a sympathetic manner in a highly formal technical style.- Kirsten Anderson

Also exhibiting is a very small show of work by Japanese painter Yoko d’Holbachie, whose work can best be described as Jim Woodring on acid. Her super poppy, psychedelic works also reflect a “grotesque” style, although more humorous and sweet in nature. D’holbachie works both with computer graphics as well as oil paints. Foe this show she will be exhibiting three small oil paintings.

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