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, February 28, 2013

Steve Hudson

"Tumult" 2009 oil canvas 45"x55"

"Ort" 2009 oil canvas 45"x57"

Afterimage #3, 2012, mixed media on paper, 31" x 31"

Afterimage #7, 2012, mixed media on paper, 34" x 30"

Afterimage #9, 2012, mixed media on paper, 52" x 70"

Steve Hudson's figures are faceless, anonymous stand-ins for a humanity that is hunkered down, knocked down, fallen down and cast aside. The atmosphere is full ominous storm clouds or the billowing plumes of fire and explosion. It all sounds terribly dire, but somehow, the work is neither shocking nor jarring. It is actually quite appealing. There is a warmth to them that belies their content. I think it has something to do with the tenderness of his technique. The shapes are carefully drawn in soft curving lines, the compositions are simple and well-balanced, and the scenes lit with an appealing drama. The occasional appearance of animals seems to hint at some allegory of nature. Possibly a reference to our wreckless impact on global ecosystems. But they don't feel like warnings. They feel like reassurances, comforting companions to those ever woeful human beings. It's as if they were there to say, "yes, you are destroying so much, not least yourselves, but nature will go on. Don't worry on it's account. Poor lost humanity. You may be despondent about your chances. Nature can't assess it. But nature will see you through to the end no matter how it all turns out. Cheer up". There's more than a hint of melanchloy in these paintings, but it's the kind of melancholy one wants to engage in, not the horrid depression that sours all life and joy. It's that sweet sadness that makes you feel more alive for embracing it. But then again, maybe that's just me. I could make neither heads nor tails of his artist statement.

You can view more of his work at Peter Miller Gallery in Chicago.

Monday, February 25, 2013

David Becker

Last Project  oil on canvas  55" x 37.25"

Cable Ready  charcoal on paper 39.25"  x 27.5"

No U-Turn oil on canvas 60"  x 76"

Corona No. 3 charcoal, conte crayon on watercolor paper 40" x 60"

Redemption (31/100) etching and engraving 22" x 34"
David Becker's work will not appeal to the squeamish. There is little here in the way of beauty or noble sentiment. Figures are often half naked revealing overweight distorted bodies. Their features communicate little more than selfish idiocy. The events portrayed are often cryptic, as if it were an allegory of some sort that could be deciphered with the proper key. But one thing is clear. Whatever the message locked within these images, it is not good news. It is a dark and chaotic vision of the human species. Hundreds of years ago Hieronymous Bosch would have recognized in David Backer a kindred spirit. At that time work like this might have been acknowledged as a theologically sound depiction of mankind's fallen nature, immersed in sin and sorrow. Less than a century ago Otto Dix might have also recognized this work as a similar voice speaking out against the horrors that humanity inflicts upon itself. Human beings in this understanding, are both victim and perpetrator. The present is a far cry from the conditions of Bosch's medieval Europe, when plague, famine and war could consume entire populations without warning. And the horrors of World War II are remembered as little more than grainy film clips on the History Channel. But the human condition never really changes. And there will always be artists who force us to look at the unpleasant truths of it. Because we need them to.

You can see more of his work at Ann Nathan Gallery

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adrian Cox

"Bather" Oil on canvas, 41" x 66" 2012

"The Lovers" oil on canvas, 34" x 47" 2012
"Border Creature: Portrait III" Oil on canvas 31" x 24" 2012

"The Great Orator" Oil on canvas 36" x 36" 2012

"Border Creature: Portrait II" Oil on Canvas 31" x 24" 2012
And now for something completely different. Fine art does not usually mash-up so nicely with horror and science-fiction. The artist Christian van Minnen uses some similar effects but with a more tongue in cheek approach. These grotesque portraits of mangled and bubbling flesh reminded me immediately of a slew of great horror and sci-fi images: the monster in John Carpenter's remake of the Thing, the tantalizing but disappointing transporter accident from Star Trek, the morphing monstrous evolution of William Hurt at the end of "Altered States". I'm sure there's more and better more contemporary examples out there. The shock of such imagery in a film often has much to do with it's fleetingness, the mere hint that allows the imagination to take over. But here Adrian Cox overwhelms all that with weight, solidity and detail. The horror just stays there. Until you begin to grow accustomed to it. And that becomes a new layer to the nature of the horror. Because the horror is just flesh adrift in nature, longing for connection with that nature, with other flesh, with anything that might ground it more firmly to life, not realizing that it is mortality that defines it. The horror is our own existence; grotesque, pitiful, sad and beautiful all at once.
You can see more at www.adriancoxart.com
or at Ann Nathan Gallery in Chicago

Monday, February 18, 2013

Greta Waller

"Mandorla", 2012, Oil on canvas, 92 X 60 inches

"Objects from Venice  2011-2012  Oil on canvas  73 X 48 inches

Greta Waller's work is intensely observational. She strives to make each brushstroke matter, for each mark to be just the right hue, placed in just such a manner as if to finish that particular piece of the painting in a manner that still feels fresh and spontaneous. Her latest work is a series of still life paintings, often set up in her closet where an idiosyncratic collection of items from her travels, family heirlooms and flea market finds crowd the shelves. She cites being influenced by ancient Roman art in general and Trajan's column in particular after a recent visit to the eternal city. The closet paintings do indeed bear a strange a affinity with the famed column whose imagery wraps round and round it in a lofty spiral. But here, the imagery wraps round an interior space recording not historic events, but personal and private ones. It is an interesting comparison that might tempt one to ponder at length the similarities and differences between art as political propaganda, and the kind of personal narratives we tell to define ourselves. But the anonymous carvers of the column and Ms. Waller also share a devotion to the honesty of observed detail. This honesty is on full display is an earlier series of beautifully crafted studies of ice blocks of various sizes and various stages of melting, resting on trays both decorative and utilitarian. Wherever her explorations take her next you can be assured that she will tackle it with the same loving attention and deft skill. You can see more of her work at Maloney Fine Art

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Travis Collinson

"Scatter"   48" X 48"   Acrylic, Oil, collage and mixed media on canvas   2013

detail of painting above.

Travis Collinson's figurative paintings immediately bring to mind the early work of Lucian Freud. Which is certainly not meant to dismiss is at derivative. Visual artists should take more cues from musicians and be unmindful of the criticism of influence. Embrace it. Run with it. And if you're going to be influenced by a recent painter you could do far worse than Lucian Freud. Also this kind of quirky tight stylization is something that Mr. Freud left off in favor of a more painterly approach. But Travis Collinson has found within it a way to evoke the powerful but subtle landscapes of his subject's interior emotional lives. That subject is often himself. The distortions have only a distant relationship to caricature (which is nothing more than a form of lighthearted humorous portraiture). In Mr. Collinson's work the odd angles, the enlarged eyes and skewed facial features amount to a reflection of the discrepancies and inconsistencies within us all. When we look at his figures we do not just see the person, we are drawn into them. But even his still life work reflects some of this ability to emote with drawing. A napkin, a lemon and a small potted succulent seem to convey a range of emotions, of dislocation, alienation, and a tender surprise at the beauty of the banal and ordinary. Some of his work pushes into more explicitly narrative territory and that is usually where my interest is. But for some reason it is these quieter pieces, especially the portraits that affect me the most with their quiet complexity.

You can see a bit more of his work at www.maloneyfineart.com or at www.eliridgway.com
He also has a gallery of images on his Facebook page which is open to viewing (this is where I got most of these images. They were not labelled or titled in any way which is why I do not have any information attached to them)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stef Cook

Sam, 2012  watercolor  5.25" x 8.5"

Ben, 2012  watercolor  5.25" x 8.5"

Yezen, 2012  watercolor  5.25" x 8.5"
CJ, 2012  Watercolor  3"x4"

Kent, 2012  Watercolor  3"x4"

Stef Cook is a portraitist. A good one.  Her profile watercolors go beyond mere recording and begin to say really emotive things about both the models and the artist. After looking through all of the portraits posted on her website, and getting a feel for each one I quickly began to feel as if I was intimately familiar with this group of friends and acquaintances. I began to have opinions about each one. This one I rather liked because he's sort of laid back, kind of a nerd and unpretentious. That one however is kind of an annoying sack when you really get down to it. Not that he's a jerk really, but he just gets on my nerves. OK I confess he seems perfectly nice but I just don't like him. This other guy is pretty cool but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. So and so, on the other hand, is too smart for his own good and frankly I get a little tired of his left wing conspiracy theories. These people get into your head the way characters in a really well done TV show can. They make you feel like you're in on their lives and that is a remarkable achievement. The more abstracted portraits are fascinating too because the artist is still able to communicate so much with so little. I mean, come on, Kent is... well jeez, he's just such a Kent!
Go hang out with more of these guys at www.stefcook.com
And maybe one of these days Stef will introduce us to some of the gals in her gang. Oddly I had at first assumed Stef was a Stefan because all the portraits are of dudes. But she's a Stefanie. Go figure. You just can't judge gender from art. I like that.

Thanks to the folks over at www.vivianite.net for posting her work

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Philippe Chabot

"sans-titre (le gala)", 2012, 66" x 60", Acrylic on wood

"machine à vide", 2012, 48" x 48", acrylic on wood

"Getting Comfy", 2011, 64" x 50",  acrylic on canvas

"Bife Weater", 2011, 64" x 50", acrylic on canvas

"Moonshiner", 2012, 48” x 48”, acrylic on wood

Phillipe Chabot is an artist in Montreal, Quebec, whose highly stylized expressionist figures of only a couple of years ago have largely faded into pure abstraction. Those roots in representation provide the work a solidity and skill level that are often missing from some young artists who dive straight into abstract work. Drawing is the foundation behind painting. And draw he does. Even when it's just shapes. He has a keen affinity for composition and color and makes full use of a range of textures and mark making. Large flat areas of color and sharp edges are countered with the occasional hash-marks, drips and gestural brushwork. The contrast between the expressive mode and the more careful constructionist style is new, dominating his more recent paintings. All of this may be of little interest to the casual viewer but it's an integral part of his process and process seems to be his real interest. To get  a really good idea of what this means in practice you really should watch his short time lapse video of a 2010 painting on his website (here). Myriad images appear and disappear as he paints over and over building up layers, most of them are eventually completely covered. But the final image reveals enough of what went on before to give some feel for his approach.
See more work at www.pchabot.com

seen at www.booooooom.com