with acrylic painting
Expressive Hands Capture Portraits of Relationships and Cultural Heritage in Malisa Suchanya’s Acrylic Paintings
In vivid pinks, reds, greens, and blues, Oakland-based artist Malisa Suchanya renders the expressive contours of hands immersed in florals and ornamental motifs. Interested in painting the human figure, she started to focus on the appendages specifically during the pandemic, sharing that she “found a deep love and satisfaction in trying to convey emotion and reflect relationships all through the different arrangements, compositions, and entanglement.” She then participated in Var Gallery’s ongoing 30 x 30 x 30 project, which invites artists to make 30 artworks in 30 days every January, spurring creativity at the start of the new year.
“I know very well that it’s projects like these that harbor an amazing environment for growth, and that was exactly what it was for me,” Suchanya says. Required to complete a painting per day, she spent about five hours on each work, plus an hour or two to prepare the next one. “Over the course of the month, I did find that my technique of painting changed quite a bit. It became a bit more time efficient and I was layering my colors with more confidence and ease… and it became close to meditative.”
Suchanya organized three sub-series within the collection, including portraits of hands belonging people who have have deeply impacted her throughout her life, reflections on being with others, and her cultural identity and upbringing in Singapore. Hands blossom from floral arrangements in the portraits series and are titled with individuals’ names, while limbs that twist and float on a black background comprise a set exploring the nuances of relationships. And looking to her Chinese, Indonesian, and Thai heritage, she included examples of colorful, traditional masks framed by hands.
Throughout the year, Suchanya participates in markets and artist fairs around the country, including San Jose Made, which you can find updates about on her website and Instagram. She will also have a solo exhibition at Mom and Pop Art Shop in Point Richmond, California, later this year, and 30 x 30 x 30 continues at Var Gallery in Milwaukee through June 4.
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Vast Landscapes Escape the Edges of Tiny Frames in Barry Hazard’s Miniature Paintings
Sunlit mountains rise from lush valleys and foam caps the crests of waves in the expansive landscapes of Barry Hazard, painted at a scale that could fit snugly in the palm of your hand. Using wood panel as a base, Hazard builds up sculptural vistas in thick acrylic paint, detailing wildflowers, sandy beaches, and snow-capped peaks. Ranging from a couple of inches to about half a foot, his diorama-like Minis overflow from their tiny frames.
Hazard began working on a small scale during the pandemic when he was invited to participate in a show at Shelter in Place Gallery, a 1:12-scale gallery that operated in 2020 and showcased its exhibitions online when lockdowns made visiting physical exhibitions impossible. He relishes making the Minis because of the sense of immediacy evoked by the medium in such a small surface area. “A single brushstroke may capture an entire sky, and an idea or impulse might be completed in minutes or hours—not days,” he says.
Beginning with a frame sourced from a dollhouse supplier, he builds up the surface using acrylic gesso and modeling paste before adding vivid color. Rendered with loose precision, features in the Minis like paths, hills, and figures are clearly defined yet anonymous. Containing sprawling scenes in a tiny space provokes a type of reflection and contemplation that requires moving in close, rather than standing back to take in a grand view. “The scale is the antithesis to something grand or monumental,” he says, inviting viewers to approach “with less caution than a large painting and perhaps a greater sense of intimacy and playfulness.”
Hazard also applies similar techniques to larger paintings. He will have work presented by Good Naked Gallery at Barely Fair in Chicago this April and Future Fair in New York City in May. Find more work on his website and Instagram.
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Mischievous Dogs, Moldy Fruit, and Crustacean Claws Unsettle Sabrina Bockler’s Still Lifes
Two small dogs with long, silky hair stand atop an elegant table, one pawing at a basket of fruit and the other retrieving a fish from a platter. A bowl of strawberries has already been upturned, flowers pulled from their arrangement, a thickly piped slice of cake squashed by careless gluttony. Rendered in acrylic on linen, the still life (shown below) is titled “Decadence and Disaster,” an apt phrase to describe much of Sabrina Bockler’s body of work.
The Brooklyn-based artist relishes in mischief and disruption, painting scenes of opulence destroyed by pets or unsettled by an uncanny, foreboding feeling. Her works often imply a painstaking labor visible only through the resulting decorations, the crustacean towers, perfectly sliced melon, and floral bouquets cascading from their vases. Given the domestic nature of the settings, those preparations are coded feminine and part of Bockler’s broader inquiry into the value of women’s work.
She shares with Colossal that while she references the history of Dutch still lifes, her uncanny, surreal approach asks viewers “to think beyond the traditional aesthetic, creating a sense of chaos within a decorative still life.” Instead, Bockler strives “to encourage a reexamination of traditional gender assumptions surrounding labor and its division. My practice allows me to directly consider the ways my identity and experiences as a woman inform my identity as an artist.”
If you’re in Los Angeles, stop by Hashimoto Contemporary to see “Old Fruit” and “Decadence and Disaster” as part of the group exhibition Potluck running through March 11. Bockler is also currently preparing for a solo show titled Menagerie that opens on May 13 at BEERS London, which will “(draw) on the notion of animals being used as symbols of social power or for decorative purposes.” Find more of her lavish works on her site and Instagram.
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Ethereal Light Suffuses Domestic Interiors with Surreal Hues in Alfie Caine’s Paintings
Imbued with otherworldly light and a jewel-toned palette, Alfie Caine’s dreamscapes tuck domestic architecture into the idealized surroundings of manicured neighborhoods, country gardens, and lush woodland. The East Sussex-based artist draws on his formal training in architecture to render homes and their environs in vivid hues, playing with perspective and the relationship between light and shadow in an interplay of interior and exterior.
In Caine’s vignettes of domestic life, clues to the inhabitants are found in details like a potted plant propping a door open, a pet awaiting attention, or a glimpse of a figure in the corner, nearly out of view. The precision of linear perspective and bold contrasts meet the surreal, organic forms of wispy flora and streams of chimney smoke in scenes that emphasize small moments of pleasure in everyday life, such as taking a hot bath, strumming a guitar, or lighting a candle. These instances of familiarity are often countered by uncanny light sources, which illuminate bouquets of flowers, cast long shadows, and portend an incoming storm or some mysterious, unknown event.
Caine’s solo show titled Moments of Calm is on view through February 23 at JARILAGER Gallery. Find more of the artist’s work on his website and Instagram.
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Leafy Subjects Exemplify the Social Life of Trees of Shyama Golden’s Verdant Portraits
On the banks of the Martha Brae River in Jamaica, artist Shyama Golden noticed greenery that appeared like lovers embracing. She “started to see these anthropomorphic vine-covered trees everywhere, taking on the forms of various archetypes.” The scenes inspired a series of paintings titled With or Without Us that merges facets of landscape and portrait painting into verdant works expressing nature as a social entity.
The Los Angeles-based artist’s practice is influenced by myriad sources, especially literature and everyday experiences. “Sometimes the idea can come from reading, and sometimes I take inspiration directly from life, but I often do research to add more details as I go, even if the original idea didn’t come from anything I read,” she tells Colossal. With or Without Us takes cues from Richard Powers’ 2019 novel The Overstory, an evocation of the natural world comprised of interlocking narratives in which each character is deeply connected to trees.
For this series, Golden was fascinated by the invisible means in which trees communicate with each other using a network of soil fungi, an ecological survival mechanism that is under threat from deforestation and impacts of the climate crisis. By combining recognizable portrait imagery redolent of family photographs, headshots, or the art historical vogue for reclining female figures, Golden reimagines the leafy denizens of forests as individuals with distinctive personalities and relationships.
Find more of Golden’s work on her website and Instagram.
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Holiday Lights Warm the Dark Winter Nights of Jeremy Miranda’s Paintings
Colorful lights strung on trees and lining gutters cast a welcoming, vibrant glow on dreary, winter evenings in Jeremy Miranda’s paintings. The Maine-based artist (previously) is known for his dreamlike works of landscapes and interiors that incorporate both the domestic and outside world, and elements of nostalgia, intimacy, and memory echo throughout the scenes. Often illuminating the magical in the mundane, Miranda has been creating a growing collection of holiday paintings during the last few years that center on Christmas trees and decorated homes, capturing the warmth of the season as it shines through stark, frigid nights.
The artist has a few prints available through Sebastian Foster, and you can follow his work on Instagram.
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