The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Author: Roxanne Goldberg

Akiya Kageichi is a Japanese illustrator who calls himself Golden Gravel, a name which may refer to Japanese rock gardens. His sinister jesters, lazy rulers and clandestine warriors are set within scenes full of chaotic imagery. Astrological symbols, particularly moons, are heavily prominent, suggesting the mysterious forces of dark nights are at work. In a single plane, objects morph, creating dynamic and active scenes. Kageichi reveals hidden underworlds and secret futures, in which sorcery and witchcraft pull the strings and determine what happens in the real world.
For the past 50 years, Pacific Northwest artist Patti Warashina has been creating ceramics that merge a range of themes including car culture, politics, and feminism. While her earlier female "shrines" contained vibrant pops of color, her most recent figurines are made of bone-white china. The characters take on the form of witches dancing around a fire, and nude devils and mortals riding in and alongside cars. Warashina explains in an interview with Seattle PI that she is inspired by Greek and Egyptian columns in the form of female figures, small court figures from the Han Dynasty, and early Japanese Haniwa figures.
Netherlandish artist Suzan Drumman makes dazzling, playful installations that climb up walls and over people. Crystal, chrome-plated metal, precious stones, mirrors and optical glass of various sizes and colors respond and reflect their surroundings. The designs are derived from a variety of sources, including traditional Islamic geometries and Eastern mandalas, to form patterns that dance between negative and positive space. The end result is kaleidoscopic, yet balanced. However, because the individual pieces are placed on the raw surface, they are innately ephemeral. This lends the works a mystical quality.
American artist Jamie Adams paints the human form with the expertise of an European Old Master. His rendering of musculature and gradation of skin tone is exacting and hyperrealistic. However, there is something askew in the way the necks of his figures sometimes turn too far — as if snapped by an unknown force — and stomachs appear to bulge and contract to unnatural degrees. The distortions to which Adam subjects his characters, and their simultaneously alluring and repelling effects, are similar to the ways in which John Currin manipulates his female figures. The uncanny resemblance is likely no accident, as Adams and Currin are contemporaries of one another. Born within one year of each other, Adams and Currin are both BFA graduates of Carnegie Mellon University.
The women that populate Martine Johanna's world are pensive warriors who occupy a place of tension between powerful command and fragile insecurity; and between upstanding morality and dark cruelty. In many ways, the figural subjects of Johanna's paintings are conflate the complex binaries between which people battle and waver, settle and compromise. While each subject is shown as unique in appearance and mood, they are all united by a distant, thoughtful gaze − a metaphor for the wandering, worrying human mind.
KAABOO launched KAABOO ArtworK this past September with an art and music 'mix-perience' at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds. The event featured live mural painting, intricate sculpture installations and unique exhibitions by dozens of artists esteemed worldwide, in addition to comedy, fashion, beauty and craft beer events. The ArtworK gallery, curated by San Francisco-based artist and KAABOO Art Director, Amandalynn, featured a variety of pop-up exhibitions with paintings, jewelry, photography, sculptures and installations - many for sale - by more than 80 artists. In reference to the inaugural and future events, Amandalynn said, "music and art are so naturally interwoven, it only makes sense to highlight them both with equal enthusiasm."
Canadian-born artist Andrew Salgado borrows a variety of influences from art history and popular culture, to paint portraits of deconstructed identities. The people Salgado chooses to portray are complex personalities. Salgado acknowledges this, but does not strive to paint the person's whole identity. Instead, Salgado uses a variety of abstract elements to underline the now-ness during which his subjects were painted.
Victorian art and literature is characterized by Romantic poetry and Gothic horror. London-based artist Dan Hillian plays with these tensions to create contemporary ink drawings and Photoshop collages animated by fantastical landscapes and uncanny events, all connected by exacting geometries. In an interview with Creative-Mapping, Hillian discusses his desire to "transport people to somewhere a little bit mysterious." This, he certainly achieves, with exploding shapes that radiate out from a central figure. The protagonists of Hillian's images approach the supernatural, especially those that seem to morph into plants and animals before the viewer's eye. However, the transitions are also clues to the figures' personalities, fears and desires.
In Tanzania, people born with Albinism (a rare condition, in which a person lacks the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes color) are believed to be ghosts or bad omens. However, their body parts are highly prized by Shamans, who use arms and legs, genitalia and blood, to make potions intended to bring wealth and good luck. Artist Tip Toland uses sculpture to bring attention to these nightmarish acts of mutilation, and the prejudice, ignorance, and superstition that motivates the attackers. When exhibited in 2014 at the Portland Art Museum, the portraits of anguished albino children were accompanied by a larger-than-life Mother Africa, who lies down and hopelessly gazes at the heavens.
Since 2009, Urban Forms Gallery has been transforming the landscape of Polish city Lodz with a pulsing wave of colorful, graphic images. Puerto Rican muralist Alexis Diaz (previously covered by HF) is the latest in a string of internationally-known street artists including Brazil's Os Gemeos, Belgium's ROA, and Australia's SHIDA, to have been invited to touch his brush to Poland's walls. Diaz's mural, entitled "Sentir," is part of world-wide series, "HOY." Translated to "Today," Diaz's current series is a personal reflection of the way in which the artist sees the world. Following murals in Vienna, France, the US, UK, Australia, and Tunisia, "Sentir," which translates to "to feel," is an affecting tribute to the ties between the natural world and human sensation.
Njideka Akunyili Crosby uses a mix of collage, drawing and painting to create large-scale artworks with an emotive punch. The artist draws viewers into her works through details within acetone-transfer prints of small photographs takes from the internet and Crosby's own photographs, in addition to magazines and advertisements. The layers, patterns, and their varying degrees of transparency create dreamlike images that move in and out of reality. In this way, the works hint at the complexities of fantasy and actuality in everyday domestic life.
Brazilian-photographer Vitor Schietti uses fireworks to create images of illuminated trees and dancing patterns in his series "Impermanent Sculptures." To produce the images, the artist sets off fireworks at twilight. When the light is just right, Schietti uses a long exposure camera. The effect is semi-painterly and always captivating. The method comes from the artist's interest in the moment of change or transformation, as well as the sociological question of how microscopic elements reflect the greater, macroscopic world. To this effect, the trees ablaze represent dual destruction and illumination. Though people and governments take climate change under serious consideration, we continue to destroy our shared environment. The burning tree is an all-too common phenomena in an age of extreme weather and drought, but it is also an ancient symbol shared across cultures. Captured in a photograph by Schiette, the burning tree inspires ominous feelings of both awe and doom. 
Artist duo Muntean / Rosenblum use traditional Christian iconography and Baroque modes of seeing to create mystique around contemporary life. Typically set in landscapes distinctive to the 21st century, such as nuclear plants and graffiti-ed railroad tracks, the paintings appear as documentary film stills or snapshots of our current reality. However, by contorting perspectives in a dramatic Caravaggio-esque manner and devising moments where pain or discomfort appear as main subjects, Muntean / Rosenblum cultivate the same aura of the unknown that is so captivating in paintings centuries old.
Before the cyanotype was popularized by artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Susan Derges and Florian Neusüss in the 1960s, it was used by architects, astronomers and botanists. It is therefore fitting that contemporary artist Tasha Lewis appropriates this method of camera-less photography to make anthropological sculptures. To transform her two-dimensional cyanotypes into three-dimensional objects, Lewis uses mixed-media paper, tape, wood, and wire to build the forms of human portraits, birds in flight and thawing animals, among other shapes and characters. She then uses a photochemical reduction process to print on cloth, which she hand-sews and patchworks together. The artist refers to this outer layer as the "skin" of her sculptures.
Berlin-based artist Vermibus shocks passersby with haunting public interventions, in which he replaces fashion advertisements with his own manipulated versions. To create the staggering, sometimes startling images, Vermibus splashes a solvent across the printed surface. The chemical reaction causes the faces and flesh of models, as well as the logos and brands they represent, to wash away. This process can be viewed in a video produced by Open Walls Gallery in Berlin.
Look down. Hiding between sidewalk cracks and under train tracks, you just might find one of the people who inhabit Joe Iurato's miniature world. The New York-based artist cuts people from wood and photographs them in active positions within cities and landscapes. The resulting photographs are endearing miniature reflections of the world. By placing his cutouts in familiar settings, Iurato draws attention to the details in our greater environment. Furthermore, by painting the works in black-and-white, the artist creates a sense of nostalgia, especially around his portraits of men walking along train tracks.
Rainbow waterfalls spill from the faces of Brian Donnelly's men and women. The Toronto-based painter describes himself as a portrait painter, yet he distorts and erodes his subjects to sometimes unrecognizable ends. Donnelly's paints from real life, selecting his subjects based on interesting features such as piercing eyes or characteristic facial hair. He then paints them on canvas before using a combination of turpentine and hand sanitizer to make the colors run.
In the imagination of 1986, Frankenstein creatures made of sheeps' skulls, spoons and scrap metal inhabit a world populated by steel flowers and paper birds. Georgie Seccull (aka 1986) is the Melbourne-based artist behind the fantastic installations, whose gigantic scale and raw aesthetic are reminiscent of prehistoric times. Using a combination of salvaged and recycled materials, 1986 builds installations with eccentric materials like computer parts and utensils for the wings of beetles. By merging organic matter like bamboo leaves, acorns and kumquats with modern instruments used in technology and mechanics, 1986 hurls forces of the past and future together to create otherworldly beings in the present.
Acrobatic bodies, dismembered heads and elongated limbs stack, twist, and slide among one another to create complex human compositions. The new paintings by Richard Colman are now on display in his solo exhibition, "Faces, Figures, Places, and Things," as the inaugural exhibition for San Francisco's Chandran Gallery. The colorful artworks apply both subtle and obvious, real and fantastical instances of human behavior to explore the intricacies and curiosities of human relations. Coleman's use of minimalist forms and color blocking guide one to focus on the content of his paintings as opposed to their surface aesthetics.

Matt Linares "The Second Key Master"

Tattooed doves and pygmy giraffes, singing harpies and suited wolverines are now on display at Portland's Antler Gallery as part of "Unnatural Histories IV." The exhibition, as previously reported earlier this month, is the fourth edition of a major group show featuring work by 27 artists who merge human with animal to create fantastic creatures. Some are whimsical like Redd Walitzki's "Pygmy Mountain Giraffe," which the artist describes as being particularly fond of "salt water taffy left behind by careless tourists" and Morgaine Faye's "Wadjet," the Egyptian god and protector of kings and women in childbirth. To accompany her single rainbow winged bird, Faye wrote a poem detailing the omnipresence of her imagined "Protector of the Pharaohs."
Born in Cologne, Germany, former tattoo artist Mike Dargas paints portraits of women dripping in honey. His hyperrealistic oil paintings are painted on a large-scale and appear as impressive photographs. With such provocative titles as "Golden Thoughts," "The Ecstasy of Gold," and "Carpe Diem Baby," the portraits exude a certain opulence, suggesting honey as a metaphor for gold. Using this analogy, his paintings may be interpreted as commentaries on the role of monetary wealth in contemporary society. With closed eyes and probing tongues, Dargas' women become greedy narcissists caught in moments of private ecstasy.
Berlin-based illustrator Kaethe Butcher draws girls with fiercely unique personalities. Written words are dropped onto her drawings, revealing the internal thoughts of young women figuring out the complexities of love and life. Her quirky characters are the kind of girls who smoke cigarettes in bath tubs while contemplating their existence in a chaotic world. Many of Butcher's sweet, sensuous drawings border on erotica. Butcher's women waver between losing themselves in passionate throws and drawing away in jealous suspicion. They question their lovers just as they question themselves. The combination of exacting body language, block text and a monotone color palette reinforce her character's inner world as opposed to her physical actions or being.
Iranian artist Negar Farajiani uses her own self-portrait in a series of puzzles, where she distorts, hides, and reveals her physical appearance and identity. To make the puzzles, Faraijani cuts identical jigsaw pieces from dry mounted photographs. She then reassembles the pieces to create new, slightly chaotic and impractical compositions.
Photographer Fabrice Monteiro collaborated with Senegalese fashion and costume designer Doulsy (Jah Gal) and the Ecofund organization to create "The Prophecy," a series in which the destruction of the African landscape is highlighted through theatrical costume and narrative. Larger-than-life characters wear costumes partially made from the trash found in the ten polluted environments where Monteiro photographed his models.
Born on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean, artist Gilles Barbier is most well-known for his series of aging super heroes. In "L'Hospice," a grey-haired Wonder Woman with sagging breasts and square hips cares for Captain America, who attached to an IV, lies bloated and incapacitated on a gurney. In another corner, a wrinkled Cat Woman sleeps in front of the TV, while next to her, a deflated and anemic hulk sits comfortably in a wheelchair. Like all of Barbier's works, most of which feature his own self-portrait, "L'Hospice" uses the absurd to reflect on the darker and more difficult themes of aging and the collapse of dreams and ideals.
Monica Rohan paints self-portraits in which she is eternally hiding behind and searching within vibrant, patterned textiles and luscious, green plants. The Australian artist is inspired by her own "rural-idyll" childhood and the "internal longing of the 19th century novel." Her characters express these investigations through a sentiment of both innocent play and anxious isolation. Forests and flowers, dresses and blankets become extensions of her characters' physical and psychological beings. By always concealing the women's faces, Rohan relies on body language to convey the characters' emotional states. For example, some characters are seen from a birds-eye view, curled with their heads burrowed in patchwork quilts. Others thrash and dance; the movement causing the women's outer dresses to become indistinguishable from their physical forms.
Chinese artist Li Xiaofeng uses broken slivers of porcelain found at archaeological sites to create original costumes he calls "rearranged landscapes" for their ability to tell a story. To create his wearable works, Xiaofeng shapes and polishes found shards of porcelain from the Song, Ming, Yuan and Qing Dynasties. He drills holes into the pieces and loops them together with a silver wire to create traditional Chinese dresses, jackets and military uniforms.
South Korean, New York-based artist Ran Hwang uses buttons from the fashion industry to create large-scale, often immersive installations. The artist describes her process of hammering thousands of pins into a wall akin to a monk meditating. Both practices rely on repetition and result in something mystical.
Born in Bologna, Nunzio Paci developed his artistic finesse viewing the Baroque style of painting promoted in Paci's home city in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Accademia degli Incamminati (Academy of Progressives) was established in 1582 and elevated the arts to the same level of intellectual rigor as astronomy and medicine, in addition to poetry and music. In the 21st century, Paci continues the tradition of his ancestors, innovating compositions that are a triangulation of anatomical study, lyrical song, and psychological probe.
Israeli artist Nir Hod once told Interview Magazine, his greatest discovery was that "it's not easy getting older." In his painting series "Genius," Hod pulls at the tension between childhood and adulthood and breaks open a space in between innocence and inurement. His images are of young children smoking cigarettes and looking at the viewer with expressions of disdain, arrogance and suspicion. Though there is certainly an element of dark humor in dressing rosy-cheeked toddlers in rich fabrics and endowing them with sweeping hair, the paintings are disquieting for their ability to reflect one's now-corrupted inner child back unto him.

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