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)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Suichi Nakano

"By Sleepiness" [?] 162 x 130.3cm  2010
"Forgetting The Way Home"  oil on wood panel  116.7 x 91cm  2008
"In Preparation for a Picnic"  162 x 130.3cm  2010
"Till Find The Forest"  oil on canvas  91 x 116.7cm  2010

"Luminescence"  oil on canvas  72.7 x 91cm  2002

Suichi Nakano is a Japanese artist pursuing two distinct bodies of work. The first is a series of surrealist montages in which enormous animals of one kind or another occupy an urban environment. In each case there is no sense of any direct impact upon the city. The animals are like enormous spirits lurking through or over the human environment, searching for their own space. The other body of work is an ongoing series of landscapes divided into two categories: during the snow, and after the snow. These are clearly based on direct observation and speak of someone clearly in love with the isolation of cold environs. One piece in the series is called "How to spend the holidays". I imagine the artist living in an urban environment out of necessity and escaping to the far north in winter as often as possible. In the mean time the artist looks out over the buildings and streets of home and envisions the overwhelming presence of nature looming over it all. You can see much more at: nakanoshuichi.com
The English version of the website is not always easy to navigate around, but it's worth the effort.
The artist's work was posted a while back on www.vivianite.net, a website I need to check in with more often.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marissa Textor

"Trouble in Paradise"  graphite on paper  18" x 16.5"

"Alone Out here"  graphite on paper  28.5" x 43"

"Bent Over Backwards"  16" x 18"

"Pony Swim"  graphite on paper  26" x 36"

"An Outlet For Pent Up Forces"  graphite on paper  11" x 14"

Marissa Textor offers up painstakingly realist graphite drawings that convey the power of nature, which is not always the warm comforting life nourishing force we like to anthropomorphise as a loving mother. Biology is ruthless. And nature is not just biology. It is geology and atmosphere and chemistry and all the forces that shape the world in which we find ourselves. These forces can twist life, bend it, break it, drown it, even snuff it out en masse in minutes. This is not to say that Marissa Textor's work is about destruction and catastrophe. But her interest in nature has more to do with it's vast and unsympathetic power than how artists' have traditionally treated it. She presents wonders. Not lofty hopeful wonders but relentless ones both large and small. And though her work is dramatic it is not the drama of human emotion. It's more staid than that, more clinical and objective. Though the work is clearly based on photography, her exquisite renderings have the same cold distilled alien beauty of electron microscopy.

Her work was featured in New American Paintings (#97) a while back but somehow I overlooked it at the time. That happens a lot I'm afraid. Anyway, check out more of her work at marissatextor.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Simon McWilliams

"Nanpu Bridge, Shanghai"
"Restoration Dust"  oil on linen  60" x 72"

"Smoke and Ladders"  oil on linen  60" x 72"
"Inside the Palm House 2012"  oil on linen
"M-Machine Number 2"  oil on linen  72" x 60"
I posted Simon McWilliams work about two years ago (May 2010) and he's been hard at work since then. He has a new show coming up in May down in LA at Skotia gallery in Culver City.

The subject matter of his work is primarily urban architcture, especially large construction sites which he interprets with a wild exuberance of color, as if these stuctures were not being built but were blooming in a hothouse environment. He also paints greenhouses so perhaps the analogy is an especially apt one. It's a fevered and fantastic take on the prodigious efforts we human's make to build new stuff all the damn time. The hothouse metaphor may remind you of the impact all this activity is having on the atmosphere and that does load the work with an angle of interpretation. But he does not address it directly. This is visual work first, conceptual second, if at all. He captures a kind of grand and dizzying chaos that is both beautiful and alarming. By doing so for purely visual reasons the potential for analogy to our own crazy civilization and it's dazzling potential for demise is made all the more powerful.
There's plenty of great stuff to look through in his website: www.simonmcwilliams.com

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Matt Brackett

"When the Wind is Blowing in the East"  36"h x 36"w  oil on linen on aluminum panel  2011

"The Familiars"  36"h x 48"w  oil on canvas on panel  2011

"An Infinite Whole"  60"h x 35"w  oil on canvas on panel  2012

"The Shallowers"  25"h x 48"w  oil on linen on aluminum panel  2010

"Sink and Swim II"  4"h x 5 3/4"w  oil on linen on aluminum panel  2010

I first posted Matt Brackett's work in December 2009.A couple weeks ago i got an email announcing some new work and this is some of it. If you are at all interested in narrative art and natural realism then this is an artist for you. His figurative work has given way to scenes with animals, partly inspired by children's stories and books shared with his daughter. But in these decidedly grown up narratives the animals take on deeper mythological overtones. There is no single interpretation to be had. As with all myth, ambiguity lies at the heart of its richness, so that meaning is not one thing, but layered in such a fashion that it cannot be objectively identified, only intuited. You can see more of this work plus his earlier family life tableaus on his website: www.mattbrackett.com

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mathew Borrett

"The Ground Came In Quietly"  ink on paper

"Exploring a Hypnogogic City" - ink on paper
"A Nightmare Remembered 17 Years Later" - ink on paper
Hiding Places - ink on paper
"Each Dream a Grain of Sand"  ink on paper

Usually I like to post recent work by an artist. Every one of these drawings is from a series that the artist did in 2003. Most of his more recent work seems to be in the area of architectural illustration, some hand drawn, some digital. It's excellent work. All of it. But this series is just too good to pass up. There is a distinct Escher-like quality to them. That has a lot to do with the architectural geometry of the pieces and the black and white technique. Escher's interest's however were more specifically about geometry, and optical illusion. Mathew Borret is more specifically concerned with architecture throughout his work, how things are built, and how their exteriors conceal or reveal the nature of their interiors. In this series he uses that as a metaphor for dreams. In most an empty bed lies close to a possibly endless maze of alternate interior spaces leading ever deeper into the recesses of the mind and it's imagination.
Check out more of these and his other work on his website: mathewborrett.squarespace.com

and thanks to the folks at: www.booooooom.com where these came to my attention.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Benny Fountain

My previous post featured some work currently on display here in Portland, OR. In the gallery immediately next door (Froelick Gallery) is work by Benny Fountain. So there's twice the reason to head down there. The work is mostly, but not exclusively, night scenes. Most of it depicts scenes from the artist's kitchen. The location is clearly one of convenience. The subject matter is not what you see. The subject matter is seeing. I've always enjoyed impressionism as much as anyone, but it is hard these days to see the revolution that it was; An entirely new way of seeing, expressing light itself, how it shimmers and refracts and scatters about the world. But I have often felt that the soft diffused brushwork of the impressionist technique seemed least appropriate for bright sunny days when hard edges and precise clarity are so notable. Mornings and evenings always worked better. However, night... night is the time for impressionism. At night the boundaries between objects begin to blur in the shadows. Colors fade and bleed into one another and the mind struggles to put the pieces together in their proper order. Benny Fountain has carried these ideas forward to perfectly capture how the eye and the mind see in imperfect light. By doing so he evokes the joy of seeing, of looking and noticing that each time you look, things are a little bit different. His earlier work which demonstrated a mastery of color has given way to the muted tones of darkness, but the color is no less central. And the geometric configurations of his kitchen scenes provide a wonderful counterbalance to the loose gestural technique.
You can see more at the artist's website: www.bennyfountain.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jonnel Covault

"Elegant Shelter"  Linocut  28" x 20"  2010

"Fishing Willamette Falls"  Linocut  20" x 28"  2012

"Ode To Lew Welch"  Linocut  24" x 30"  2005

"River Waterfall"  Linocut  26 3/4" x 16"  2012
"Moment's Rest"  Linocut  12" x 15"  2012
I've wanted to post Jonnel Covault's work before, ever since I saw a print at a local charity auction. But the images on her website are just too small to convey the exquisite detail and patterning that makes her work so compelling. The images you see here are only slightly larger (and barely adequate). I would love to be able to show you a few detail shots. They were taken from her gallery in Portland, www.augengallery.com, where she has a show of work both old and new. It will be up until the end of the month. So if you're local to Portland OR, you should stop by. If not, the best you can do is watch the slideshow that first comes up on her homepage (jonnelcovault.com). The fade-ins and cropping make it hard to get an idea of the whole but you can begin to see the range of her marks, simple lines and swirls and hatch marks that manage to wonderfully convey the textures of land and water and sky. She does a lot of work depicting man made structures but her first and clear love is nature. For me personally, her most compelling work is her most minimal, when all she wants to show you is one simple idea; the delicate lacework of bare winter trees against the sky, or the rush and swirl of water over rocks. But regardless of her imagery there is no doubt that she has long since mastered this artform.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Susan Siegel

"Solitary Goat (Blue)"  30" x 24"  oil on canvas 2011

"Solitary Goat (blue)" detail

untitled  12" x 12"  oil on linen  2011

untitled - detail

"Cow Swing"  30" x 24"  oil on canvas  2011

Jean-Honoré Fragonard The Swing (French: L'escarpolette), 1767, Wallace Collection, London

Susan Siegel clearly has a lot of fun with her work, playing around with the conventions of 18th century rococo painting and portraiture. The rococo style flourished especially under the opulent reign of Louis XIV in France as a kind of reaction to the rigid formality of the baroque style. It gave way to neo-classicism and ever since has been seen by many as the representing height of frivolous extravagance. Siegel replaces the courtiers and royal figures with half human animal headed figures and paints her work with an ethereal expressionism. There is something about the combination that strikes me as both humorous and plaintive. It can be difficult to relate to the figures in actual rococo art. The excesses and selfishness of the fortunate, born into a life of leisure and luxury, not bothering to look beyond the causes of their circumstances, can easily evoke a sense of moral indignation. But through Siegel's lens we are reminded of their all too human frailty. People in such times and places (and they're with us still) may not be so callous as we imagine. Just silly. Foolish and all too human. It's a pretty good trick considering she gives them animal faces. And that being said, those faces, executed with such simplicity and flourish, are wonderfully expressive. Part of what is at work here is a reminder that what separates mankind from the animals is really nothing but an indistinct shading of grays. So let's try not to take ourselves too seriously, OK?
You can see more at the artist's website: susanlsiegel.com
...and congratulations to Ms. Siegel on being included in New American Paintings 98

Monday, April 2, 2012

Frank Webster

"Office Building, Tokyo"  acrylic on canvas  40" x 60"  2011

"Black Tower and Branches"  acrylic on canvas  40" x 30"  2011

"Plastic Bags"  acrylic on canvas  60" x 80"  2009

"Departure"  acrylic on canvas  86" x 65"  2009

"Black Towers"  acrylic on canvas  72" x 48"  2010
I posted a couple of Frank Webster's early works back when this blog was still pretty new (Jan. 2009). He's been busy since then and a subtle transformation has taken place. His work, which had always taken a minimalist approach to post-industrial landscapes, has added a brooding and melancholy atmosphere. In his own statement he writes that "the sharp juxtaposition of technology and romanticism are evocative of the moment — and environment — in which we find ourselves presently." It's very much a modern aesthetic and yet it reminds me of the romantic landscapes of the 18th and 19th century in which artists depicted the dramatic ruins of antiquity. Those artists were, in some sense, comparing their rising culture and civilization to one just as grand but long vanished. It was a Momento Mori for the ambitions of their time. We lost sight of that humility over the next two centuries but now it returns. What Frank Webster captures here, is our own current sense of existence in the twilight of greatness. Our futures are no longer filled with rocket travel and flying cars. We see apocalypse everywhere. But there's no sense of horror in his work. It is more subtle and probably more accurate than that. It depicts instead, the somber, maybe even nostalgic beauty of a gradual fading and slow decline. Perhaps our culture will end not with a bang, nor even a whimper, but something more akin to a long wistful sigh...
You can see more at his website: www.fwebster.com