When I started trying to promote my own artwork online I kept coming across other people's art that amazed or compelled me in one way or another. This blog has been a way for me to practice thinking and writing about art, as well as learning more about my peers and all the incredible art that is being made out there.

Friday, September 26, 2014

William D. Lewis

"Bonfire 2"  gouache on paper  12" x 16"  2012
"Bonfire"  gouache on paper  12" x 16"  2012

"Smith's Ferry Fire Ring"  oil on canvas  68" x 66"  2012

"Campfire" porcelain  24" x 24" x 5"  2012
"Match"  oil on canvas  36" x 36"  2014

William D. Lewis has a thing for fire. Among other things of course. But fire is a particular obsession. It should come as no surprise since the artist is based in Idaho, a state not only familiar with campfires and fireplaces but one that has been ravaged by it's share of wildfires.

A year after the Beaver creek fire nearly destroyed the prominent arts communities of Sun Valley and Ketchum, his work is included in a show called "Forests, Foraging and Fire" at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts (Aug. 23rd - Nov. 12th). In addition the artist is giving a 2 day workshop (Oct. 18-19) on depicting fire as both subject and symbol. Participant's will create their own charcoal with which they'll create studies of fire from photographs that they bring with them. On the second day they'll produce a painting from those studies. Fire as a subject is not as easy as you might think. For one thing it is difficult to capture even in photographs making reference material of limited use. Something is always lost because fire is in constant motion. It is ephemeral. And it is a light source, not reflected light. So you have to suggest as much as depict.

Fire as symbol however... well it's almost impossible for it not to work as a symbol. Mankind's inextricable relationship with fire goes back to our earliest ancestor's before anatomically modern human beings even emerged. It went with us across the planet and together we changed everything in our paths. Fire is deeply embedded in our imaginations.

But Mr. Lewis explores almost every subject he tackles with the same dual purpose of observation and meaning. He often depicts various objects, everyday items like the burnt match above which I included because of its relationship to the fire images, but also things like a knife, a hammer, a shovel, a paint brush, and so on. By isolating these objects and giving them both space and focus, they take on a loaded symbolic force. This is in part due to the nature of the human mind which desperately seeks to attach meaning to almost anything it encounters. We understand coincidence and randomness intellectually, but emotionally they don't even exist. Mr. Lewis' work takes advantage of this and draws the viewer into his work by forcing you to bring all the available associations you may have with his subject in order to interpret it for yourself.

You can see some work on an older post from January 2011. And there's much much more to look at on his website: wmlewispainting.com. He is represented through Ochi Gallery in  Ketchum, ID.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cogan, Uribe and Hoshine

Two artist that I've blogged about before, and among my favorites, are Kim Cogan based out of San Francisco and Nicolás Uribe from Bogota, Colombia.  To my surprise I just discovered that they are showing work together this month at Maxwell Alexander Gallery in L.A. along with another talented artist, new to me, Kenichi Hoshine. The show is called "Abstracted Realities". Here's a few pieces by each with very brief comments.

Kenichi Hoshine was born in Tokyo in 1977 but earned his BFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY.  Although there's limited imagery of his work online it's clear from what is there that he delights in the push and pull between realism and abstraction. He frequently combines the two in ways that suggests the haunting and surreal quality of dreams without ever seeming remotely like a surrealist. It reminds me a little of the way Gerhard Richter moves back and forth between representation and abstraction, but somehow got stuck doing both at once. One might think Gerhard Richter could pull it off. But it doesn't matter because Kenichi Hoshine clearly can.

"Study of J"  oil on wood  18" x 18"

"Untitled 54"  16" x 16"

"Untitled"  Charcoal, Acrylic and wax on Wood  20" x 20"

Kim Cogan is quite versatile, from occasional figures, to skulls, waves and wharfs, but especially the urban landscape. He's a technically deft magician with paint. His images that haunt me the most are the lonely scenes of an San Francisco at night. I posted his work back in April 2013. Here's 2 of his pieces that will be in the show:
"Open Late"  12" x 12"

"Sunset"  60" x 40"
And here's 2 by Nicolas Uribe. He focuses on the figure, especially personal portraits of friends and family, but the personal becomes universal, his models mere studies for observing the human animal in all it's intimate idiosyncratic honesty. You can see one of my earlier reviews from July 2010.
Here's 2 of his that will be in the show:

"Wife (Breakfast)"

"Father (After Lunch)"
The opening is this Saturday so if you happen to be in LA may I suggest that this is not just something to do but a chance to see three artists who are doing some amazing work and helping to define why painting continues to be a powerful and significant medium of personal and artistic expression.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Katherine Ace

BRIAR ROSE BIRTHDAY  oil on canvas

FISHERMAN'S WIFE  Oil and charcoal on canvas

FITCHER'S FEATHERED BIRD (with eggs)  Oil/alkyd with paper and small objects on canvas

FROG KING  Oil/alkyd with paper and small objects on canvas

TALES FROM THE GROUND UP  Oil/alkyd with paper on canvas

There is a narrative aspect to Katherine Ace's paintings that does not stem solely from the fact that many of them are based on the tales of the brothers Grimm. It's rather that they function in very much the same manner as the stories.  By juxtaposing unexpected and often improbable elements they create associative possibilities that encourage interpretation and meaning. Although some of the paintings have clearly illustrative aspects, picking specific visual imagery from the source material, illustrations usually interpret a text more literally. But underneath the literal imagery of folktales lies a bottomless well of meaning. As the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim pointed out in his book "The Uses of Enchantment", the message of a fairytale may change many times even for a single listener or reader depending on age and experience. Each story is so loaded with images and ideas that one must construct a relationship between it and one's personal experience in order to develop an interpretation. Interpretations will vary as widely as the audience. Ace's paintings work much the same way, attempting to trigger a kind of narrative instinct. A painting cannot tell a story on its own, being only a static image frozen in time. But stories bloom in the minds of human beings like wildflowers in spring. We dream them. We select moments in our past and ignore others in order to create stories about who we are. Stories define us. At their root, and at the root of all language, and possibly human consciousness itself, lies metaphor. Science is mankind's best tool for creating and discovering knowledge about the world around us. But far older, metaphor, in the guise of language, art and stories is how we create and discover knowledge about ourselves. These are the kind of paintings one could live with for a very long time, allowing their meaning and interpretation to slowly evolve and grow.

There are a lot more to look at on her website. Although there is no easy browsing through the images they're worth the extra little effort.
http://www.katherineace.com/

In other news: I'd like to apologize for the huge delay. Unfortunately I will be gone most of August so don't expect new posts then either. After that, we'll see. I want to continue the blog but may change it in some ways. Maybe add some interviews? Maybe more thematic posts featuring multiple artists. I'm not really sure. But thanks to everyone who's enjoyed following along.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A few new posts soon!

I will post some new work very soon. Unfortunately I will then be unavailable for most of August. But this blog is not being abandoned. I am thinking about different kinds of posts to do. Maybe some interviews. Perhaps thematic posts with different artists. We'll see. But in the short term I will post a few new people. Promise.