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)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jun Kumaori

I don't know the titles, the sizes or the media for these images but what I do know is that they demonstrate a surprising and rich combination of animé style illustration and fine art craftsmanship. The two combine to create oddly touching portraits of adolescence infused with fantasy and nostalgia that somehow manages to be neither cloying nor cliché. The artist who, according to Zach Tutor at the Supersonic Electronic art blog, is only 25 is certainly someone to keep an eye on.
You can see much more at the artist's website: kumaori.info

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chester Arnold

"Cuttings"  74" x 87"  oil on linen  2012

"Small Time Operation"  46" x 56"  oil on linen  2012

"The Old Narcissus"  46" x 56"  oil on linen  2012
"60 years in the Forest"  72" x 60"  oil on linen  2012

"In the Midst of Everything"  46" x 56"  oil on linen  2013

"The Dump at Shit Creek"  18" x 22"  oil on linen  2012

When I first posted some paintings by Chester Arnold in August 2009 I admired his wit as well as his skill. But after revisiting his work recently he may be firmly ensconced among my very favorite contemporary painters. His paintings are narrative at their core, stories about human beings and the natural world they they inhabit, explore, occupy, and generally cover with debris. He relishes depicting the randomness and chaos inherent in both the natural world and the detritus of human activity. He observes one or the other, or more frequently frequently both at the same time, with genuine fascination. His portrayal of people and the messes they make is full of equal parts sympathy and disgust. These are not typical visual polemics on environmentalism. Judgment is there, to be sure, but it comes in the form of wry humor and wit, like Mark Twain piercing human foibles far better than more pompous social critics with precise and bemused observation. Arnold's vision of the natural world seems to stem in part from the romantic tradition of Caspar David Friedrich. In Freiderich's somber and serious work man is a tiny insignificant observer of the grand wonder of the world around him. In Arnold's world man is more of a clumsy oafish sort unaware and unheeding of his sublime surroundings. And yet we can't completely despise him. We empathize with his determination and grit even while shaking our heads at his folly. He is us after all.
You can see more work at the artist's website: www.chesterarnold.com
and at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Julie Heffernan

"Self Portrait as the Thief Who Was Saved",  2011-12 / oil on canvas / 84 X 112 inches

"Self Portrait Cleaning House",  2012 / oil on canvas / 60 X 68 inches

"Tree House" 2011 / oil on canvas / 64 x 60 inches
"Self Portrait in Overheated Eden"  2013, oil on canvas, 68 x 52 inches

"Self-Portrait with Falling Sky", 2011  Oil on canvas  68 x 60 inches

Sometimes I come across an artist whose work I've seen before and loved, and then suddenly I wonder, "wait, why haven't I posted this artist before?" and for the life of me I have no answer. But better late than never. Julie Heffernan's work is both personal and mythic. Steeped in the imagery of her catholic upbringing and the great painters of the renaissance she reiterates themes and stories in a seemingly allegorical or symbolic brew. But the symbols are not overt. They're not like hidden clues she's planted there for you to find. She's trying to find them herself in the very act of painting. She describes her process as a kind of weaving of abstract elements until forms and figures begin to appear, foreground and background pushing and pulling against each other until the essential structure of the work is established, at which point she fine tunes the details bringing it to vivid life. The process reminds me of Michelangelo discovering his statues within the marble, or how writers of fiction describe their wonder at watching what their characters do next. The creative process flows from within in ways that cannot be, or ought not to be, consciously controlled. It's instinctive, a part of our unique evolutionary inheritance, the part that makes us humans rather than naked apes. Whether we're making tools or music, telling stories or painting, it is a peculiar human instinct that shuts down the conscious mind blinding us the outside world while we weave another. The results may seem like magic to those who haven't honed the skill. Julie Heffernan has, and she produces wonders.

You can see her work at the following galleries and their websites:
Mark Moore Gallery in New York
Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco
PPOW Gallery in Los Angeles

And theres's a nice fairly recent interview with the artist on the site hyperallergic.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eric Stotik

Untitled - Continuous Series - installation view - acrylic on paper - 5' x 45' - 2013

Untitled - Continuous Series - partial montage - acrylic on paper - 5' x 45' - 2013

Untitled - Continuous Series - detail - acrylic on paper - 5' x 45' - 2013

Untitled - Continuous Series - detail - acrylic on paper - 5' x 45' - 2013

"Quetzalcoatl"  acrylic on paper  60" x 40"  2013

"Untitled" (bird, octopus, horn)  acrylic on marbled book endpaper
26" x 20" 2013

Eric Stotik's most recent show of work is dominated by a single piece that he worked on for the last two years. It's a continuous series of paintings on paper. And by continuous, I mean infinitely so, for one end is congruent with the other. You could hang the piece in a circle and then stand in the center  slowly turning round and round trying to take it all in. However, one thing I can guarantee is that you would not be able to take it all in after just one complete turn. The piece is so full of uncanny details and unpredictable subtleties that repeat viewings are practically demanded by it. There is a clear overarching theme of human horror. but the horror is leavened by it's peculiar surrealism so that the viewer is inexorably drawn into the world it creates even while being repulsed by it. Some visual elements repeat here and there riffing off each other; for example, a series of pits and mines (one of the smallest of these seems to glow from within suggesting a literal mouth into hell). Overall the piece is defined by the artist's unique visionary detail but here and there the detail fails to resolve, as in a small odd cylindrical shape emerging from the heart and between the fingers of a woman. Is it a cigarette? An arrow shaft? There a drips of what might well be blood descending from it. The answer could be both or neither. Most of the faces are rendered in the artist's typically detail obsessed manner depicting every wrinkle and fold of skin, but one is a soft focus mask of dark patches which only suggest eyes, nose and mouth. Not far from this cryptic figure a woman holds what at first appears to be some kind of cylindrical box, but on closer inspection the shape merely defines an area in which the painting remains unfinished, revealing the sketch and under-painting of the artist's process. What does it all mean? It's best not to ask such questions too rigorously, for the work as a whole is a riff, a piece of constant improvisational invention swirling around the artist's morbid preoccupations and predilections. You have to start by letting the whole thing wash over you. Then you can zoom in and fascinate over the pieces then zoom out again only to be sucked back in by another detail. All I can say is that if you happen to be in Portland Oregon this month, go see it. And make sure you have some time, or better yet go see it several times. You won't be sorry. And while this enormous piece of artwork will no doubt occupy much of your attention it is important to note that some of the other pieces in the show display the artists obsessions and obsessive attention to detail with equally beguiling results.
The work is on display at Laura Russo Gallery through September 28. More of Eric's work can be seen on the gallery's website.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Michiko Itatani

"Cosmic Wanderlust" painting from CTRL-Home/Echo CRH-11 2012 78" x 96" oil on canvas

"Cosmic Wanderlust" painting from Cosmic Theater CWC-9 2011 78" x 96" oil on canvas

"Cosmic Wanderlust" painting from HyperBaroque CWH-1, 2012 60"x72" oil on canvas

"Cosmic Wanderlust" painting from Cosmic Theater CWC-178" x 96", 2010, oil on canvas

"Cosmic Wanderlust" painting from Cosmic Theater CWC-52010, 96"x78", oil on canvas

Trying to review these paintings by looking at tiny online images (most of these originals are eight feet wide by six and a half feet tall!) is probably a bit like trying to describe the night sky having only ever seen a photo of it. Of course it's entirely possible that seeing the actual work would be a letdown. Possible, but given the general quality of art shown at Linda Warren Projects in Chicago, where Michiko Itatani's most recent work is now on display, that seems highly unlikely. While her subject matter and imagery varies, there is something especially appealing to me in these grand imagined interiors, "cosmic theaters" indeed. They're like a cross between the ancient library of Alexandrai, the wonders of Byzantium and something out of Star Trek, all suffused with an ethereal unreality that borders on the religious. But if religion is implied it is a secular one, a religion of knowledge and art. These spaces seem like high vast churches dedicated to narrative, knowledge and dreams. There is no god in them other than the artist herself, for these scintillating images exist as a kind of subcreation (a term coined by JRR Tolkien) in which the artist does not ask us to suspend out disbelief, but instead, through detail and consistent vision, compels our acceptance of her reality for the duration of our interaction with it. But really, I'm just guessing. I need to see these for myself. If only I could. If you happen to be in Chicago this September please go check them out at Linda Warren Projects
You can see much more of her work online at her website: www.michikoitatani.com