The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Author: Nastia Voynovskaya

Christian Rex van Minnen's paintings (featured in HF Vol. 25) are painstakingly laborious. The artist uses the techniques of the Northern Renaissance masters to paint tripped-out portraits and still lifes where his subjects devolve into bulbous, tumor-like lumps of flesh and organic matter. While Van Minnen's work is commonly interpreted as being about deformity, when we visited the artist's studio in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, he discussed the conceptual underpinnings of his creative process. Take a look at our photos from Van Minnen's studio after the jump.
LA-based artist duo Cyrcle use their graphic design skills to create clean, geometric images with philosophical underpinnings. Whether working on murals, paintings, or installations, their aesthetic combines Ancient Greek imagery with futuristic designs. For their latest solo show, "NOTHING EXISTS!" at Station16 Gallery in Montreal, they explored the divide between our perception and reality. Playing with glow-in-the-dark paint, they created a new series of paintings and relief sculptures. Contributing photographer theonepointeight recently visited Cyrcle's studio in LA to give us a glimpse of what their working on before "NOTHING EXISTS!" debuts on June 4.
UK-based artist Candice Tripp's paintings of youthful characters frolicking through dark forests are at once haunting and whimsical. The children in her works, who often wear masks and anachronistic outfits, appear at once sinister, demure, and naive, sending mixed signals to her viewers. Are they specters who haunt these mythical forests, or lost souls struggling to get out? We last covered Tripp's 2012 solo show at Black Rat Projects here, and last week, she debuted new works for her one-night-only exhibition, "Credulous Morons," at Baltic 39 in Newcastle, where she lives and works. To mark the occasion, today we survey some of the paintings she has created since we heard from her last.
Levi van Levuw cultivates a sense of mystery and foreboding with his chiaroscuro charcoal drawings, which feature inanimate objects scattered in empty rooms that appear devoid of a human presence. Whether drawing palm trees, bookshelves, drawers, or stairs, Levuw's presentation of these items is highly stylized and architectural. He appears interested in studying their formal qualities and creating new patterns with objects his viewers would normally consider mundane.
Ashley Eliza Williams' latest painting series is called "Sentient," and for good reason. Williams paints biomorphic shapes that resemble both rocks and flesh. Overgrown with colorful moss, these mysterious shapes float in mid air or stand solemnly amid desolate landscapes. Their alien flora seems to blossom uncontrollably, evoking bacteria and plant life alike. Its ability to grow in otherwise desolate spaces gestures towards the tenacity of living things.
The unintentional glitches of our computer screens are normally a nuisance, but they become the central focus of our attention when viewing Felipe Pantone's work. Pantone paints graphic patterns that evoke ones that appear on our devices only in the event of a terrible malfunction. The CMYK colors in his murals will look familiar to anyone who has ever dropped their laptop. Using spraypaint, Pantone plays with optical illusions, creating multilayered images that seem to shape-shift depending on the viewer's orientation. Pantone currently has a show on view at Delimbo Gallery in Sevilla, Spain. Check out some of his recent street art below.
There's something ridiculously satisfying about looking at Lernert & Sander's latest photography project. The Dutch duo cut various types of foods — from raw tuna to kiwis to Romanesco broccoli — into perfect, bite-sized cubes and arranged everything in a meticulously planned-out grid. The piece includes 98 total cubes measuring two-and-a-half cubic centimeters each. The photo was originally commissioned by a Dutch newspaper for their food issue, but has gone viral internationally since its release.
Lola Dupre (HF Vol. 28) manipulates photographs sans photoshop, cutting and pasting them into new images entirely by hand. Last time we covered her on the blog, she had taken a break from her figurative works to concentrate on monochromatic, Op Art-inspired abstract designs. But with her latest body of work, Dupre has returned to portraiture, this time unveiling a new body of work in full color. Apart from her personal projects, she recently created a fashion editorial for the Spanish fashion magazine Vein using her signature style.
Wookjae Maeng creates ceramic sculptures filled with animal characters. Often gathered together in stylized arrangements, Maeng's works utilize the shapes of these creatures in surreal ways that bare little resemblance to nature. This disorienting effect is intentional: One of Maeng's goals is to make his viewers consider humans' impact on the environment and the way we often thoughtlessly manipulate nature to suit our own ends. "In my work I hope to provide an opportunity — however brief — for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists, even as he continues his daily existence indifferent to it," he says.
Though Athens, Greece-based artist Constantine Lianos creates mostly figurative work, he insists that it in no way is meant to be realistic. Instead, his dark, monochromatic drawings and paintings are created entirely from his imagination. "The painting process is for me the ultimate introspection process, where the rational and the emotional are inseparable, where the method meets the random," writes Lianos in his statement. Sometimes humorous and sometimes disturbing, each character in his work appears preoccupied with an internal struggle that Lianos illustrates in unexpected ways.
An expert in the software program Arnold, Lee Griggs manipulates photographs to take on sculptural forms that look convincingly 3D. His new series, "Deformations," takes a studio portrait of an anonymous man and warps it into geometric shapes. In each portrait, his skull stretches into a cube, an enormous sphere, or a cone. Rather grotesquely, Griggs captures the way the surface of the skin would stretch tautly over this unusual skeletal architecture, making the man's face contort into pained grimaces in the process. Check out some of Griggs' work below.
Evan Hecox's paintings of roadside dives overflow with 1970s nostalgia in his current solo show at Joshua Liner Gallery in New York, "Far." As the title of the show suggests, these new works were inspired by Hecox's travels to destinations as far as New York, the Mojave Desert, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. The cultural signifiers of these places melt together when viewed through the Colorado-based artist's sunshine-hued lens. Rather than focusing on specific landmarks, Hecox paints gas stations, cacti, and abandoned buildings. His work privileges the journey, not the destination. "Far" is on view through June 6.
Often using himself as a subject, Madrid-based painter Eloy Morales paints large-scale, expressive portraits that hone in on the uniqueness of the human face. Morales often depicts his subjects covered in paint and other props as a way to add interesting textures as well as emotional content. The artist has a solo show coming up this week at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York titled "About Head." Opening May 16, the exhibition will present new, mural-scale portraits that put the human head front-and-center, inviting the viewers to get lost in Morales' meticulously-painted details.
Fans of Alison Blickle (featured in HF Vol. 28) will recall that the artist has been working on a series of narrative paintings for the past three years, relating her self-created myth in installments that come in the form of annual solo shows. Currently, the last chapter in her tale of a mystical woman and her magic vessel is on view at Kravets Wehby Gallery in New York. "History of Magic III... Uncrossing" features opulent scenes of fictitious incantations and rituals. Blickle ornaments her characters with mosaic-like patterns that echo the ceramics hanging on the walls and displayed before her paintings in altar-like formations. Since this is the last chapter of "History of Magic," we are curious to see where Blickle goes next.
Mikko Lagerstedt is a self-taught landscape photographer passionate about capturing the natural wonders of his home country, Finland. He first became interested in shooting these incredible vistas when driving to a relative's cabin in the countryside one summer. "After a rainy day, the sun started shining, and the fog was rising in the fields," writes the artist in his statement. "I just had to stop and watch this beautiful moment and then I realized that I want to start capturing these kinds of moments." Ever since then, Lagerstedt has spent his time capturing Finland's glittering night skies and pristine forests, using his expert editing skills to bring out the otherworldly qualities of these real-life settings. His work makes us want to book plane tickets to Finland already.
Chinese painter Zhang Shujian creates stylized portraits that point out the beauty in characters that may not be considered conventionally beautiful. Focusing on the skin in great detail, the artist maps out wrinkles, lines, and hairs that paint a picture of the characters' worldly experiences. Some of Zhang's subjects face away from the viewer, obscuring their faces with their hair and hands. Their reluctance to be seen invites us to guess at their identities and imagine what might lie beneath the surface.
Patrick Hardziej is an illustrator from Gdynia, Poland whose surreal works of art immerse viewers in the dreamlike adventures of his characters. Often donning detached facial expressions, the everyday guys in his works find themselves in adrenaline-inducing scenarios that we experience vicariously as viewers. Whether traveling through space or battling sea monsters, Hardziej's characters are humorous, and never self-serious, much like the artist's quirky visual style itself.
No matter how attractively someone is dressed, invading their personal space is never okay. Designer Anouk Wipprecht uses this concept as the inspiration for her Spider dress, a 3D printed, chic garment outfitted with micro-controllers. The dress' pronounced epaulettes feature arachnid-like, moving limbs that will jut out at anyone who gets too close. Wipprecht, who is based in the Netherlands, partnered with Intel to create the technology for this innovative, wearable piece.
Originally from Japan, Yasuaki Okamoto lived in Barcelona, London, and Montreal before settling down in New York, where he is currently based. His paintings of quirky underwater scenes take inspiration from various experiences he had during his world travels. Through a storybook-like style, Okamoto paints cornucopias of brightly-colored sea creatures and underwater plants. His work draws a stark contrast between this aquatic paradise and the war and chaos on the earth above. While fighter jets and satellites fly through the sky, the colorful creatures coexist in perfect harmony under water.
Cattle become luminescent, mythical beasts in Anne Lamb's photographs. For her "Beefacakes" and "Cattleize" series, the New York-based photographer gets up close and personal with enormous farm animals, even inviting a nude, human model to cavort with them like in the Greek myth of Zeus and Europa. Lamb uses an assortment of colorful lights and filters, creating a chiaroscuro effect that makes the animals appear even more powerful than they are already. Check out some of her recent work below.
Lebanese photographer Serge Najjar notices geometric patterns in his day-to-day surroundings. Based in Beirut, his photographs capture instances of minimalist architecture with an emphasis on symmetry and repetition. But despite its focus on clean designs, his work includes evidence of human inhabitants in these austere edifices. With people peaking out of their doors and windows, the buildings come alive. The people in his work add individuality and quirkiness to his otherwise highly stylized presentation of Beirut, where cultural context is stripped away to highlight the city's modern, architectural elements.
Dutch artist duo We Make Carpets recently presented a huge, immersive carpet installation for "Kneeling," their piece for the Salon del Mobile 2015 in Milan, which took place in mid April. We Make Carpets collect ephemeral, throwaway items like cone-shaped party hats and dish sponges and arrange them into elaborate patterns inspired by Middle Eastern carpet-making traditions. Their colorful works were laid out on the floor at the Salon horizontally rather than hung up on a wall like in a typical gallery, encouraging viewers to circle around the installation to get the full effect.
With his sculptures of multitudes of identical, disaffected, middle-aged men, Isaac Cordal critiques modern society's emphasis on work and productivity. In our contemporary capitalist system, everything is thought of as a potential way to make profit — like public universities, which are becoming increasingly privatized and unaffordable here in the United States and in countries all over the world. This is the subject of Cordal's latest piece, "The School," where he imagines a university as a nightmarish factory with a skeletal overlord shouting instructions from a watchtower.
Oakland-based artist Jaime Lakatos' sculptures have risen from the ashes — quite literally. Lakatos imagines a dystopian world not far along on our trajectory of environmental destruction. She burns her hunting trophy-like busts of various animals until their surfaces become blackened and charred. Lakatos created this technique to portray her animals in a "confused state of cross-species evolution" in order to broach the topics of unchecked scientific progress and human expansion. Coming up at Empire 7 Studios in San Jose, Lakatos' solo show "Cinderscape" will debut a new series of sculptures, installations, and paintings on May 8.
While Allen Linder's main pursuit is marble sculpture, his drawings of organic, otherworldly shapes contrast greatly with the precise forms he carves from stone. In his graphite works on paper, murky, cloud-like spheres seem to come together and pull apart. They unravel into abstract shapes that at once appear macro and micro, recalling both cell formations and the galactic patterns from outer space. Linder expertly renders both liquid and solid textures in these nebulous works.
Tristan Eaton (HF Vol. 34) is such a versatile painter, his collage-like murals often include a combination of typography, realistic portraiture, illustration, and patterns — all rendered freehand with spray paint. His ability to mix and match various styles within a single, cohesive image lends his work well to collaborations, like the ones he completed over the course of the past week with fellow street artists Cyrcle and How & Nosm in Brooklyn.
Through a unique process of applying thin, translucent layers of monochromatic, acrylic paint to a panel over and over, Travis Louie (HF Vol. 32 cover artist) mimics the effect of 19th-century photography. Though filled with fantastical characters, his works have an effect of verisimilitude much like historical documents from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. For his latest solo show, "Archive of Lost Species," which opens at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle on May 7, Louie abandons the studio portrait format we've seen before. Instead, his latests works look like snapshots of strange monsters, sometimes observed in the wild and sometimes interacting with their human counterparts.
Polish painter Daniel Maczynski does not concern himself with the subtext of his work. Rather, his geometric portraits are studies in form and color. According to the artist, the meaning behind the work is for the viewer to decide. Maczynski paints with thick, textured brushstrokes that evoke the physicality of the paint. In his portraits, he veers from tightly-rendered details to loose abstraction, allowing the human figures to morph into psychedelic swirls of color.
The feelings of horror and rapture collide at high speeds when viewing Lauren Marx's work. The St. Louis-based artist creates beautiful vignettes that speak to the cycle of life. Rather than a cleaned-up, Disneyfied verson of nature, her paintings give us raw depictions of birth and death. Influenced my scientific illustrations and the Baroque period alike, Marx's maximalist mixed-media works present these cyclical phenomena in visually appealing ways, often fusing the chaotic elements of nature into stylized compositions with an emphasis on design. Marx's solo show, "American Wilderness," opens at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle on May 7.
Painter Dean Reynolds likens himself to a magician. "The work is about the act of painting a window to a world of fantasy, of the surreal, of inner experience," he writes in his artist statement. "The images hint to me to make them into a drawing or painting and then I work to make them into reality." On May 2 at Parlor Gallery in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Reynolds will present a new series of surreal, candy-colored paintings for his latest solo show. The female protagonists in his work explore sunshine-yellow landscapes that seem to belong to another dimension. We follow these goddess-like characters into scenes rife with incongruous imagery and symbolism.

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