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, September 30, 2010

Scott Listfield

Scott Listfield approaches art with his tongue pressed firmly against his cheek. His pop-art aesthetic is interesting. He clearly loves popular culture in the form of science-fiction and film but finds the commercialism of pop-art itself something of a joke. It's a tension that needs no resolution. Like the astronaut that inhabits his work, Mr. Listfield is not an alien to pop-art. He's from it, but has gone away, and upon returning, finds the whole thing strangely ludicrous; a kind of parallel to his real life experience of being overseas, then returning to America. Having done so myself I can vouch for the odd sense of surreal displacement one experiences. The astronaut serves not only as a stand-in for the artist but for the viewer as well, a figure both a part of and apart from the strange reality we inhabit. The whole premise is played for laughs, mostly, but underneath the humor is a genuine and biting critique of what our contemporary culture deems valuable. The work has gotten a good deal stronger in both technique and composition over the years, though the wit was always there, and I look forward to seeing the world through Mr. Listfield's visor for many years to come.

"Boom"  oil on canvas  12" x 9"  2010

"Coke Machine"  oil on canvas  24" x 18"  2008

"Flying Cars To The Right"  oil on canvas  12" x 9"  2010

"NASDAQ"  oil on canvas  12" x 9"  2009

And I am grateful to the art of Jeff Koonz if only for the fact that he provides ready fodder for the wit of other artists.

"Grand Canyon"  oil on canvas  24" x 48"  2008

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daniel Adel

Daniel Adel is a successful illustrator and portraitist in a addition to his work as a fine artist. He also does exquisite watercolors and photography, but here I'm looking at his oil paintings. The Majority of these consist of rumpled up pieces of paper usually white against a dark backdrop, sometimes black against pale. Most of the others are flowing draperies and linens defying gravity in an undefined space. The cresting waves and the locks of Samson's marble hair shown below, are parallel works, displaying his interest in simply defining flowing dynamic forms that are realist and representational on the one hand, but completely abstract in their utility to the artist. It's clear the he is not particularly interested in trying to represent paper and what paper means. It's all form, and light and fluidity and structure. Oddly, for me, drawing a piece of crumpled up piece of paper was one the entry requirements for the art school I attended as a freshman. Mr. Adel has taken a cute little academic exercise and eked out just about all it's possibilities in a mesmerizing fashion.

There's plenty of paper and linen paintings at arcadiafinearts.com and loads more, plus portraits, illustrations, watercolors and photography at his website: www.atelierruebasse.com

"Arabesque II"

 These wave paintings remind me of some of the current work of Kim Cogan



 "Nymph"  40" x 40"

"Samson"  11" x 14"

The machine pieces here are somewhat different, but I for one would love to see more.

 "Phaeton II"

"Phaeton III"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Gryllus - Cara Thayer & Louie Van Patten

The Gryllus is the working title of a collaborative painting effort by two young artists, Cara Thayer and Louie Van Patten. Painting and drawing is almost universally a individual form of expression. Collaborations generally tend to be less satisfying than amusing. And it must be rare indeed for combined efforts to exceed those of the individuals. Most of the impetus here, for both the subject matter and the style, seems to come from Louie judging by their earlier, presumably graduate level work. But Cara clearly brings something to the canvas, possibly a more rigorous commitment to the concepts which they explore diligently for the the best possible results (her own work tends toward a more multi-disciplinary approach including sculpture and installation in addition to painting). It is all too easy to have an intriguing idea, knock off a couple of modest examples and then abandon it for the next idea. Part of creating good art is being committed to your concepts. Here they are primarily examining the possibilities of paint to capture the varying qualities of flesh, it's reflectivity and elasticity especially. But they have a few other irons in the fire as it were. I wish Cara and Louie the best of luck on their experiment, which will require not only a commitment to their ideas but to each other as collaborators. A complex endeavor to say the least.
More of their work can be seen on their website, www.thegryllus.com or at bluecanvas.com and myartspace.com which I believe is where I first came across their work.

"Droitural II"  24" x 32"  oil on canvas  2010

"Lurid Complexion V"  36" x 36"  oil on canvas  2009

Lurid Complexion IV"  25.5" x 48"  oil on canvas  2009

"Stomata"  oil on canvas triptych  24" x 72"  2009

...and possibly a sign of things to come?

"Mythology of Self"  oil on canvas diptych  24" x 36"  2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alex Roulette (update)

I posted Alex Roulette's work last October not long after he graced the cover of New American Paintings. Since then new pieces have been periodically showing up on his Flickr page. One of the most remarkable things to me, is that almost everything he reveals is excellent. Most of us recognize that you have to work your way through a good deal of mediocrity to find the occasional golden touch and generally, the artist is too close to his or her own work to be the best judge of which is which. So with each new amazing piece I've made a note to myself to do an update on this up and coming contemporary realist. The other day I happened to see the painting "Jump" (below) in the latest issue of Harper's magazine (you won't see it on the website) and figured the time is now. He applies a photo-realist approach to  a particular american mythology, the misadventures of young men. Not a surprising theme given that Alex was born in 1986. What is surprising is that he is able to portray his subject matter with both intense honesty and dispassionate objectivity creating compelling narratives of surprising poignancy.
Check out his website: www.alexroulette.com

I urge you to click on the images below and view them a good deal larger!

"Jump" oil on panel  24" x 38"  2010

 "Airborne"  oil on panel  26" x 37"  2010

"Windmill"  oil on panel  30" x44"  2010

"At The Lake"  oil on panel  20" x 21"  2010

"At Swim"  oil on panel  28" x 42"  2010

"At Swim"  detail

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stephen Cefalo

Stephen Cefalo paints across the boundaries that are supposed to separate fine art from illustration. The Fine Art world is largely engaged in a relentless (and increasingly futile) pursuit of the new. In his Bio it notes that he worked as an assistant to Jeff Koons who arguably is also interested in combining Fine Art with pop-culture imagery but Mr. Cefalo's efforts could hardly be in sharper contrast. After that it says he worked as an illustrator for Rugrats consumer products. So he's very well acquainted with commercialism. He seems to have rejected both of these trajectories. At the same time he was studying under Steven Assael, a different kettle of fish altogether. His interest in Fine Art is historical rather than creating new paradigms, and his interest in illustration has less to do with commercialism than with drama and craftsmanship. He cooks all this up into an allegorical stew of personal narratives that are occasionally cryptic, sometimes troubling, sometimes sweet, but always rendered with loving skill.
Go to his website to see more (www.stephencefalo.com)
or read through his blog for personal commentary on much of the work (stephencefalo.blogspot.com)

"Earth Tones"


"The Kids (Family Portrait)"

"Burn This Painting"

"Mother and Child"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

John Kenn

Okay, so these are not pretending to be high art. The artist actually writes and produces children's television shows in Denmark, and confesses that these are merely doodles done on office supplies during brief moments of respite on busy days. So you'll never see these on a gallery wall, or be able to buy a limited edition print. At least I don't think so. Although I do think they are easily worthy of both. They breathe with some of the same dark humorous life that inhabits the work of Edward Gorey. Perhaps the power of the internet and sudden worldwide acclaim for an exceptional doodler will convince him to find something slightly more archival to scribble on in the future.
All pieces are pen on post-it notes and untitled. You can see many more on his blog: johnkenn.blogspot.com
The blog header says Don Kenn so It's impossible to be entirely sure which is correct.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Helen Verhoeven

Helen Verhoeven employs a loose expressionistic style to evoke a highly charged psychological world. The events in her work are not always clear but there is a sense of tension, or disconnection, a brooding question mark hangs over the participants as if they might be unaware of their own or each other's motivation, or even actions. With her two large "Event" projects from 2008 she created large almost mural sized paintings of large ceremonial social gatherings. She then created a whole series of separate paintings that were details of the the original. Or the other way around. But the effect is one of minute scrutiny into an opaque and incomprehensible social event. Even her painting style contributes to the sense of unease, suggesting that crowds and cultural and social behaviors consist of unknowable or perhaps primitive individual motivations and are therefor, ultimately, even disturbingly, abstract.
There is plenty of wonderful work to look through on her website that shows an ongoing and fascinating transformation of style and intent over time.  www.helenverhoeven.com

"Event Two", acrylic on canvas, 208.5 x 418 cm (82” x 164.5" inches), 2008

"Event One", acrylic on canvas, 198 x 404 cm (78” x 159" inches), 2008

Out of these large scenes she recreated many details as their own paintings....

"Event One" detail 4 (room with portrait)  oil on canvas, 183 x 152.5 cm (72” x 60" inches), 2008

And here's one of the paintings in the above painting done as it's own painting. I really enjoy the multi-layered reality of all this.

"Event One – Detail 6 (Portrait with Sons)"  oil on canvas, 183 x 122 cm (72” x 48" inches), 2008

Here's some context to give you an idea of scale.

And here's a couple more pieces from other series....

 "Half After - 3"  oil on canvas, 150 x 200 cm (59 x 78.7 inches) 2009

"Don't Do Me Any Favors" oil on canvas, 106.7 x 147.3 cm (42" x 58" inches), 2007

I'd like to credit booooooom.com with first bringing her work to my attention.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Caitlin Karolczak

Caitlin Karolczak is a fairly young artist (born in 1984) from Minnesota. In both her education (BA in art history and BFA in fine arts) and work (as part owner of a gallery that deals in historic material) she has combined a love of art history with her own personal imagery. That imagery is frequently an unsettling confrontation with the human form. Technically her work ranges from exquisite realism to abstract expressionism sometimes combining very different approaches within the same painting. One might expect this approach to lead to inconsistency and directionless but somehow everything she does hangs together in a unified vision tempered with real artistic talent. Here's someone to keep an eye on in the years to come.
You can see more work on bluecanvas.com or at her website:  studiosilenti.com

The new blogger editor gives me the option of posting images a little larger so I'll give it a try.
This first image has a strong evocation of the incredible Odilon Redon.

"The Red Veil"  oil / encaustic on panel  2009

"Insolently Shrieking, or the End of the Day"  oil on canvas  48" x 60"

"Open window"  oil on panel  11.5" x 13"

"repose"  oil on canvas  60" x 60"


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Michael Brophy

Michael Brophy is a regionalist who captures and catalogs the experience of the pacific northwest, and in so doing captures what it means to know where you live. Unfortunately, his work really doesn't translate all that well to digital. His work can only be seen on two gallery websites where the images are fairly small. Also it seems that the paintings that sold are no longer posted and as one can imagine those are often (although not always) the strongest pieces. Oh well. The size is the most frustrating thing. The paintings are often huge. Not always. He works small too, but it's his large monumental works that have the biggest impact. The funny part of it is that it's hard to say why their impact is so profound. Technically they're good but there are many artists whose skill with a brush is more deft or refined. In some measure it's the very simplicity of his imagery and technique that are the heart of his work. There are plenty of artists who approach similar subject matter but Mr. Brophy's work is always immediately recognizable as his own and no one else's.
These really, really need to be seen in real life. If you happen to be in the Portland, Oregon area, you can see some of his current work at the Lauro Russo Gallery through the month of September. He also shows work in Seattle at G. Gibson Gallery.

"Jetty"  66" x 78"  oil on canvas  2010

"Sound"  54" x 66"  oil on canvas  2010

 Here are two of his smaller paintings. The fact that you can barely see the difference between the paintings above and these below is profoundly depressing to me. I like them both but the differences in scale are enormous.

"Sage"  15" x 17"  oil on canvas  2009

"Lightning"  15" x17"  2009

And here's a much older piece that lives in the Tacoma Art Museum that I have always loved. It's much more closely tied to an older romantic tradition than his newer more minimal work, but it's all equally steeped in the raw vitality of direct experience processed in the studio.

"January" oil on canvas  78" x 95 1/2"  1997