England-born, Toronto-based painter Mark Liam Smith’s figurative scenes are overlayed with abstract shapes and rich colors. His mastery of the latter is even more fascinating when you consider that the artist is colorblind. (Check out the artist’s Instagram page here.)
For more than thirty years, Kerry James Marshall has been creating art to inspire important conversations about African American history and identity. His paintings follow the grand traditions of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, but with new narratives in which black people are the central figures. While Marshall initially began his career as an abstract artist, his dramatic shift to figurative painting occurred in the 1980s when he realized that African American artists and subjects were being excluded from major art museums and galleries. Marshall decided he would use the techniques of the Old Masters so revered in those institutions to create a new dialogue, in which black perspectives are given greater visibility within the art history canon.
When asked how to describe the human figure, artist Noah Buchanan has said: “The human figure is an anatomical event that houses the spirit of the human condition.” His oil paintings perfectly illustrate what he means by this: an incredible display of the human body’s physical elegance and prowess, while also expressing what we cannot see. His art has been praised as among the best of his generation, a fusion of contemporary and classical themes with a Caravaggio-like command of anatomy.
In painting the world around him, Argentinian artist Diego Cirulli is sensitive to the temporal nature of things. His large-scale oil paintings represent Circulli’s unique experience of reality: a collage of the artist’s memories and the people he is with, often with eyes closed or obscured entirely, as if to suggest that our vision is not a crucial component to our perception of life. “Imagery is the possibility of generating a crack in the surface of a given reality,” Cirulli says.
Canadian artist Paul Fenniak paints with a careful eye on the natural appearances of things and through his process of painting, he arrives at a deeper expression of the human spirit. He has been considered “a master of the psychological realism” for his haunting portraits of people in random every day places like the beach boardwalk or on their lawn, often appearing detached or lost in their own inner world. And although his scenes offer us something familiar to grab onto as the viewer, ultimately, we can’t quite reach his subjects emotionally and are left to “invent”.
Brooklyn based artist Jonathan Viner pursues dreamlike visions that blend the design aesthetic of the time he grew up in, the 1970s, with cool tones and pops of bright colors. First featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 34, and on our blog, one of the strengths of Viner’s oil paintings lies in their stylish look, using elements of the era’s sex appeal, trendy accents, kitsch and fashion, to pump up their nostalgia and intrigue. In his upcoming exhibition “Strange Math” at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle, Viner offers a cinematic narrative in a series of new allegorical paintings.