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.

Search for an Artist on this blog (or cut and paste from the list at the bottom of this page)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sven Kroner

Untitled  2012  170 x 320cm

"Englische Landschaft" (English Landscape)  2010  150 x 280cm

"Patmos 2"  2008  160 x 250cm

"Bei Geltendorf"  2011  125 x 190cm

"Oktober"  2009  160 x 300cm
Sven Kroner is German artist creating monumental dramatic landscapes. There is clearly a link here to the german romantic tradition of David Caspar Friedrich and others. At the same time these are very modern images. After all, crop circles are (presumably) a recent phenomenon. The crop circle paintings and others represent a kind of pop-version of the romantic vision. The peculiar German fascination with native Americans finds it's way into his work as well, and there's Stonehenge, which is difficult to see these days without conjuring new age associations. But he manages to avoid cliche's by imbuing his work with much larger themes. In almost every piece the world is portrayed as a vast and mysterious place, in which the human presence seems tenuous at best, barely hanging on to the rough skin of this planet. It's a vision that has a strong contemporary appeal, also echoed in pop-culture via post-apocalyptic fantasies and survivalist themes. Looking around us, it may be hard to reconcile this vision with a world in which the human presence is actually difficult to escape, in which the very climate is likely being re-engineered by our massive and ubiquitous presence. And yet, it is a vision deeply rooted in our collective memories. The history of our species is a history of confronting and surviving a strange and unpredictable world, of infiltrating every nook and cranny  we could find, in order to eke out a precarious living. Kroner's work reminds us of this history, and that our ultimate success may still be short-lived. The scale and force of nature remains far beyond our control, even our full understanding. Wisdom dictates that we view it with a little more awe, and ourselves with a bit more humility.
There's much more to see on his website: www.svenkroner.de
It's in German. Click on "Arbeiten"  to see his full portfolios.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dana Saulnier

"Still Night Falling  77" x 88"
"Night One"  63" x 84"
"Night Two"  56" x 70.25" 
"Headdress"  70" x 56"
"Hut"  78" x 91"
Dana Saulnier is an Ohio based artist who teaches at Miami University. His visceral expressionistic paintings convey an intense physicality while remaining primarily abstract. I say primarily because representation makes occasional cameo appearances. Those hints of representation along with a strong suggestion of dramatic lighting serve to make the phyicality of the work more present, more real. The forms that are created can seem incredibly solid, as if they would weigh heavily in one's hand, even as they seem to be disintegrating, merging with other forms, or turning inside out. I'm not particularly practiced at talking about abstract art, or even looking at it. I love narrative. Always have. But then, when you really look at these, narrative seems very much a part of them. What is narrative but transformation, how one thing changes into another, and the inherent tension of that process? So what I see here is a powerful abstract depiction of narrative tension. I see a dark carnal conflict teetering on the brink of either dissolution or resolution. Which will it be? What I see in the work is the raw abstract elements of story telling. The artist talks about his own work in ways that I can barely wrap my head around, so I'm sticking to my own thesis for now. But however you choose to describe them, there's no denying the raw visual energy of these paintings. You can see more at www.danasaulnier.com

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chris Ballantyne

Untitled, Parking Lot (and Rocks)  acrylic on panel  48" x 36"  2008

Untitled, Fence (and Trail)  acrylic on paper  20" x 16"  2008

Untitled, Inlet  acrylic on panel  72" x 48"  2008

Untitled Intersection (Woods)  acrylic on panel  48" x 36"  2008

Backyard Fences (Plank)  india ink on paper  12" x 16"

Chris Ballantyne's paintings are spare. The compositions are often extremely simple, formal arrangements of shapes. The details are executed in a highly graphic manner. He sometimes paints directly on a wood panels allowing the grain of the wood to create a background texture, or he'll paint atop a textured wash to give the work a certain ephemeral depth, but ultimately he leans toward a stripped down minimalist treatment of representation. The results are surprisingly evocative. In almost all of his work he is describing physical spaces, man-made spaces, demarcated by walls, fences, roads, a simple line. It is the boundaries that are his subject matter. The spaces themselves are almost always empty.  There is a loneliness to these images, a sort of bleak nostalgia for emptiness. But there is an undeniable element of humor layered through them as well. It's as if our propensity for loneliness, our constant need to create arbitrary boundaries and call one side in and the other out, is in fact a very amusing sort of habit if you stand back from it just a little. One of his few figurative pieces (not shown) is of surfers riding what's called a standing wave or tidal bore. The wave does not move. It is, in a sense, a kind of boundary and the figures ride upon it, going nowhere, neither upstream nor down. This nonspace, this betweenness, this state of being nowhere in particular, this is the realm of Chris Ballantyne.
You can see more work on his website, www.chrisballantyne.com, although there's currently nothing more recent than 2008. There are few more recent images at Hosfelt Gallery and at Steven Zevitas Gallery

Monday, June 18, 2012

Haley Hasler

"Portrait Dreaming of Family Vacation"  2010  oil on canvas  46 x 52
"Portrait as an Allegory of Fidelity"  2010  oil on canvas
"Portrait as a Lady Serving a Meal"  2008  oil on canvas  48 x 36
"Winter Madonna"  2009
"Portrait as Saint Casilde"  2009  oil on canvas  46 x 32

I can't, off the top of my head, think of another painter who has made self portrait and autobiography so completely the entire body of their work. The effect is ultimately much more than any individual painting. Each individual piece is certainly complete in it's own way, and some of them are so full of wit and passion that they need no further context to establish them as exceptional paintings. But what makes Haley Hasler's work truly extraordinary is something we can only glimpse a part of now. Because it is not complete. She is in the midst or recording her life in a peculiarly unique and revealing idiom. While a tremendous amount of factual details are conveyed in her realist execution, much more is revealed in a kind of manic fantasy life, a blend of surrealism and allegory, not removed from reality but constantly echoing and reinforcing it. Not everything here is personal. Much of it is cultural, historical or in some other fashion external to her private life. Yet all of these elements are still very much a part of her. They are the flotsam and jetsam of life in the context of culture. She is intentionally toying with the idea of autobiography, interposing and interchanging inner imaginings with exterior realities. One marked example of this is that, while the paintings at first seem very personal and revealing, in every single one of them, her face wears same expression; one of slightly bemused observation. Observation of us, as it seems. Clearly this is the expression she makes while simultaneously painting and staring into a mirror. But it has the effect of turning her carnival chaos imaginings into something like a challenge, a mirror out of which her face stares back at us: "Look at your own life..." her expression seems to say. "You think this is crazy? Just take a good long look..."

Check out her website: haleyhasler.com
You can see some older images, which is really worthwhile to get a feel for the long term project her work has become, at alpha gallery.

thanks to artist Benjamin Rogers for the heads up.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jennifer Meanley

"Handmaiden Mitten"  22" x 30"  oil monotype, cut paper collage and drawing  2011
"You Choose the Ghost"  48" x 56"  oil on canvas  2008

"What Remains Unsaid"  72" x 144"  oil on canvas  2008

"For the Love of Birdsong and Incredible Heights"  28" x 36"  oil on canvas  2008

"Circus Rejects Under the Tanglewood Tree"  72" x 84"  oil on canvas  2007

Jennifer Meanley's work immediately reminds me of some of the greatest artists of the early modern era. I see hints of Max Beckmann, Egon Schiele, Paul Gauguin and a long parade of others. I've often felt that the work of such artists promised many paths which have been left unexplored. Well, here's one artist who has seen the same promise and dedicated herself to following it through. The results are spectacular. There is no clear single narrative that can be easily applied to these works. If they are narrative at all, it is the dreamlike narratives of a fevered mind that roils with imagery. Certain images and themes return again and again, as if to punctuate their deeply rooted import, but the nature of that importance remains uncertain. This creates a tension for the viewer, who struggles to make sense of it all. And that struggle is the whole point. These images of human beings, animals, lush vegetation and the kaleidescopic world of colors and textures that they inhabit, do not necessarily "Mean" something. Art does not always convey answers. At it's best it asks questions, just as we continually ask questions of ourselves. After all, what does your life mean? Maybe you think you have an answer. Or maybe not. But what truly matters is asking the question. Again, and again, and again.

You can see much much more and a tremendous variety to boot at her website:
or on her Flickr page.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Benjamin Topf

untitled  100 x 116cm  2012

"Family 3"  70 x 100cm  2011

"Family 6"  100 x 115cm  2012

"Family 9"  80 x 60cm  2012

"Dinner"  50 x 57cm  2011


I came across this artist's Flickr page today. There is no reference to a website, or galleries, or any biographical information. Many of his paintings are titled in Chinese so I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the artist lives in China. None of that much matters though. What matters is the art.
A quick glance through the images marked as favorites on his page reveals that the artist is working from random family photographs culled either from Flickr or other sources. One could easily have guessed this just by looking at the paintings themselves. He wouldn't be the first artist to work from this kind of material. But he brings to bear a nice stylization that enhances the impact of the subject matter. The simple shapes and colors and the flattening effect of direct lighting combine with some subtle modeling in key areas to give the images a feeling of simultaneous realism and artificiality. This combination of the genuine and the artificial, not to mention a carefully balanced tension between humor and banality, between warmth and distance, is what makes these paintings true. It is exactly these kinds of tensions that give family dynamics such a curiously frustrating hold on us. Whether the particular setting in these images is foreign or familiar we know each and every one of these people. They're us.
click here to look through the rest of his photostream on flickr.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Allan Gorman

"Star and Stirrup"  2012  Oil on Linen  48" x 48"

"Patek"  2011  Oil on Panel  18" x 18"

"Rolex-15 Jewels"  2011  Oil on Panel  18" x 18"

"Twin Lights"  2012  Oil on Linen  36" x 36"

"Big Silver"  2011  Oil on Canvas  36" x 48"

Allan Gorman is a busy man. I've been getting emails from him for awhile now promoting various shows he's in all over the country. Maybe one of these days, one of them will be in my neck of the woods. He's realist, with a penchant for hard angles, technology and shiny surfaces. He has a long series of truck paintings that are well executed, but had always struck me as just an extension of the vast photo-realist car art world. Nothing wrong with that. Some of those guys are incredible. I guess it just isn't my bag. Still, I liked the way he focused in on details, on odd sections creating abstract designs. But his latest series really sold me. It's of the tiny inner workings of clocks and watches. He crops in tight so that the shape of the devices are lost. All we see are the enigmatic wheels, and clicking ticking bits that whir and stir in our imaginations conjuring up mankind's leap into both the enlightenment and industrialization. Now that we are firmly in a post-industrial world and enlightenment thinking seems occluded by pessimism and doubt, these images resonate with a kind of marvelous nostalgia. Such watches have been supplanted in usefulness by LED and LCD displays and quartz crystal timing. Those advances in technology however hold no spell over us. Perhaps the manner in which they work is just too remote, too difficult for most of us to grasp. We don't really understand all the intricacies of a mechanical clock either but we get the gist. And marvel. Allan Gorman has captured a bit of what it means to marvel. And that deserves a thank you.
You can see more at his website: www.allangorman.com

And if you happen to be in the Cleveland Area, or Chicago, or Rehoboth Beach, Delaware this summer you might go see the real thing.