Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Being An Artist For You?

"I don't feel like talking to you right now, I'm an artist."
Thanks Richard!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

**** (Jungle Law)

The title above is my favorite Love and Rockets song- in which the singer ranks on a music critic. In the art movement I'm a part of, there are lots of art writers but a big lack of critics covering it. This has been good in some ways because I think in a way it has allowed the scene to incubate pretty safely and allowed for the imagination to roam free without too much fear of getting critically hammered. (I should add in the early days any good Lowbrow artist worth his salt could care less about what an art critic thought). On the other hand, and I've said this before, a lot of garbage gets through that gets labeled as "Pop Surrealism" when it isn't, or is just a poor derivative of it. This means critics who deign to cast a glance at it can get sloppy and just think this whole scene is about "bloodied little girls and headless teddy bears"*, ignoring the (and forgive me for using this word) important artists who are making some pretty spectacular work. It's lazy and annoying, but at the same time I also see why that belief has come about. I have to someone who's been watching this scene from earlier than most, it's amazing what it's become, and it's been interesting to watch new people come on the scene who have helped changed the definition of what this "movement" is. Frankly...I do feel a sense of unease amongst many of the artists identified with this genre- and a rumbling that indicates some would rather splinter off (because of the "lumping" aspect). Part of this is because there are no outside voices to put a label on what is or isn't a component on what this scene is about. Any art blog or magazine that caters to this scene gives equal coverage to Pop Surrealism as well as Street Art (and frankly that kinda baffles me). But it's how this scene is morphing, regardless. I'm not really sure what I feel about it. I try to look at it from multiple ways. For the gallery- I stick to what I love and feel passionate about, which is technically well executed, imaginative figurative work. As someone who looks at this scene in with a historian's eye...I know change is inevitable and I can't wait to see what happens next as this scene unravels and reweaves itself.

* I actually did hear this from someone once.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Look Smart

If you are an artist or gallerist (or want to be one) this is a great article about the art world. Probably one of the best I've read. It's more about the art world than art making, which I usually have filed away in two separate categories in my own mind. It really addresses the reality as well as the illusion of what the art world is like. I know people definitely have some wrong perceptions about what MY life is like- and I'm just there on the fringe. It truly seems to be one of the more bizarre things you can do for a living.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hi Fructose Vol 11

The new Hi Fructose is out next month and features an article about Mark Ryden that yours truly here wrote. I have to say it was one of the hardest things I've ever written, and I talk a lot about the symbolism in his work. Reading other articles about Mark I noticed no one really talks in depth about his use of imagery other than what it is (bunnies, bees, ya da da) so I wanted to talk a bit about the potential deeper meanings. Probably one reason no one does is that Mark himself is reticent to let on what he is using each image for. (I talk about why he's like this as well.) I'm totally fascinated by what I think is going on in Mark's work, and when I gave a lecture about the symbolism in his work at the "Wondertoonel" exhibit at the Frye Museum several years back he said I was fairly on it, so I have some confidence I'm on the right track. At any rate I hope it ads a new dimension to looking at and talking about Mark's work (not that he needs any help from me) and I hope everyone enjoys reading it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More Creepy Paintings

I've been meaning to post more scary paintings after my last Creepy Peepers post, here are just a few I thought I said in the other post, it's hard to paint creepy without also being inadvertently hilarious. I think these pass the test...these are all creepy because they have a dark, supernatural element.

You thought waking up to find a spider on you was bad. In this painting "The Night" by Ferdinand Hodler, a man wakes up to find an apparition or something worse squatting on him. For some reason this is not sexy but completely scary. Anyone whose woken up at night in a pitch black room and seen "shapes" knows what I mean. The hunched over pose of the apparition adds to the "wrongness" of what is happening and adds a spectral, demonic seeming element.

Speaking of wrong, check out this Jesus. Painted by an anonymous Flemish painter in the 1500's, this is one of those paintings that really fascinate me, on one hand I hate it and on the other I love it. Meant to depict the Trinity, something that should be sublime and holy, the two eyes that almost look normal combined with the three lower faces is somewhat upsetting, off putting, and uncomfortable. But mesmerizing.

"Toutes Les Lumieres" by Paul Delvaux. Delvaux always kind of creeps me out- but this one in particular. Though it actually is somewhat peaceful and has a touch of the Procession about it, the lighting makes it very hallucinogetic. The characters seem to be moving very stiffly and adds to the unnatural, ghostly quality. This reminds me of dreams where it's very weird and beautiful and you are trying to convince yourself it's good, but then something awful comes creeping into the picture to your sheer horror. Um, or maybe that's just me.

This one should be sort of funny since at first glance it's some kind of pterasaur/nazgul steed making off with a ladies glove in impish glee. However, the story changes when coupled with the title of the painting "The Abduction" (alternately known as "The Rape" and "The End of the Dream")
which is part of a series of etchings called "The Glove" by our pal Max Klinger, and the anguished hands bursting through the glass window in a vain effort to catch the ghastly manifestation. Something about those hands makes this etching not funny, but very disturbing.

"Fata Morgana" Group Show

Madeline Von Foerster "Alchemical Wedding"

Pam Grossman of Phantasmaphile fame is curating a show called "Fata Morgana" and features some of today's leading female "Fantasist" painters. The show is at Dabora Gallery and opens March 14th!

When the creative impulse gets perverted

This happens. Oh Cindy, you poor long suffering poodle...

Ryan Heshka

My pal Ryan Heshka is giving up the goods this month at Harold Golen Gallery. I love Ryan's inventive mix of imagery from sci fi's "golden age" and his juicy color palette. He'll be showing at the Roq this fall with a bunch of larger works. Can't wait!

Camille Rose Garcia

Camille has some beautiful new paintings at the Scope art fair at Jonathan Levine's booth. I love her recent peacock color palette.

Mia Arujo

Mia is another young artist who sort of popped out of nowhere when a pretty distinctive style. Her work is very fairytale oriented and features a central figure with the rest of the narrative swirling around. I find I seem to be drawn to really darkly decadent, opulent work lately, and that will culminated with a show I am curating in May called "Lush Life" in which I get to indulge my passion for the Pop Surrealists working in this vein. In fact, this aspect is what drew me to Pop Surrealism/Lowbrow in the first place...I'm happy many artists are still working like this when the trend is for street art which I'm not really interested in for Roq la Rue.

Brian Viveros

Brian is an artist I've had my eye on for a long time. He has been working in the scene for a long time. His work is very punk and features bad ass dames causing mischief, but just recently his work has jumped up a notch technically. I think it is beyond gorgeous. I am heartbroken I could not get the painting above.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Painter Jean Pierre Roy has a new painting that he is exhibiting at SCOPE in NY next week- breathtaking!

Neo Rauch

When I interviewed Marion Peck a while ago she had mentioned being influenced by a German painter named Neo Rauch. I sort of took note, had a vague idea of his work, and basically forgot about it. Today I was at the Frye Art Museum and picked up a catalog of his work. I have to say it doesn't hit me personally in the gut like other work does, but it's clearly "important" and intriguing.