In Pat Perry’s Sensemaking, there’s no rubric for telling a story. In quiet scenes framed through roadside vantage points and performances of costumed figures and contemporary symbols, the Detroit-based artist (previously) considers the deeply American tendency to configure the world with single, flat narratives. Perry takes an opposing approach, though, and instead layers his pieces with contradiction, complexity, and unusual details that reflect the current moment.
Rendered in subtle color palettes, his drawings and paintings pull from the visual lexicon of Midwestern life (i.e. children playing on pipe abandoned in a field or a lone figure sitting at a card table on the sidewalk), although they contain imaginative twists and nuanced social commentary: swimming pools sit below an underpass, banners display Craigslist ads, and fleeting social media trends are printed on large posters. “These paintings and drawings offer a joyful glimpse into an invented world; one that’s closely related to the one right in front of us; one that we so often struggle to see clearly and make sense of,” a statement about the series says.
In a lengthy essay published by Juxtapoz back in August, Perry elaborates on the impetus for his latest works, which center around a broad theme of flawed logic. He revists his attempts to understand the world through the lens of his religious childhood in Michigan and later, the anarchic ideologies that guided his early adult years, and the two conflicting narratives profoundly impact the artist’s approach today. “Chapter Three of my life so far has had something to do with recognizing that truly lessening suffering maybe has less to do with understanding the world, or playing an oversized role in it. It may not be about constantly ‘using my voice,'” he writes.
Sensemaking, which features dozens of new paintings, charcoal drawings, and works in acrylic and pen, is on view from October 6 through November 16 at Hashimoto Contemporary in New York, and you can follow Perry’s work on Instagram.
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Nearly a century since it began, the Great Depression is still largely associated with the iconic imagery that’s come to define the era. Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” and Walker Evans’s portrait of the distinctly tight-lipped Allie Mae Burroughs are two foundational shots that establish the period’s visual record, and they accompany the approximately 175,000 photographs also commissioned by the U.S. Farm Security Administration during those years.
While vast in number, this collection is understood today as being limited in scope, particularly in relation to its failure to reflect racial diversity, because the head of the FSA from 1935 to 1941, Roy Stryker, effaced images he felt didn’t align with the agency’s goals. When he wanted to reject a photo and prevent its dissemination, he would mark it with a hole punch, an erasure that Tulsa-based artist Joel Daniel Phillips evokes in his striking series Killing the Negative Pt. 2.
The ongoing project reimagines intimate portraits and wider shots from that period as meticulous graphite and charcoal drawings and oil paintings in shades of red. Monochromatic and ranging from small portraits to life-sized renderings, Phillips’s works complicate the narratives expunged from the historical record by focusing on a wider and more diverse swath of the population. “When the black voids of Roy Stryker’s hole punch are placed front and center, the reality of just how much power that a single, White man had to shape the narrative re-frames and re-defines the entire discussion,” the artist said in an interview about the first part of the project.
Included in Killing the Negative Pt. 2, which runs from October 9 to 20 at Hashimoto Contemporary’s new Los Angeles gallery, are glimpses into both rural and urban life with large-scale paintings of an older farmer, young girl outfitted in a frilly dress, and a panoramic shot of a migrant family and their makeshift living quarters. One smaller work (shown below) recreates a selfie that FSA photographer John Vachon snapped “in a hotel room mirror while on assignment. He took several of these, and apparently, Roy Styker (the head of the FSA) particularly hated this one, since he punched it twice,” the artist writes.
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Hunched over with his face hidden in his palms, the weary subject of a sketch recently attributed to Vincent van Gogh (previously) embraces the collective spirit of 2021. The uncannily prescient drawing, titled “Study for ‘Worn Out,'” dates back to 1882 during an early period of the Dutch artist’s life when he spent time in The Hague. A recurring model, the exhausted, elderly man was a resident at the Dutch Reformed Almshouse for Men and Women, a place van Gogh frequented when looking for subjects. “In drawings like these, the artist not only displayed his sympathy for the socially disadvantaged—no way inferior in his eyes to the well-to-do bourgeoisie,” a statement said. “He actively called attention to them, too.”
As its name suggests, the relatable pencil drawing is a preliminary rendering for van Gogh’s recognizable “Worn Out” and is also reminiscent of the lithograph “At Eternity’s Gate.” The piece is a unique find in the artist’s oeuvre considering his stature, and it follows the discovery of a bookmark in June that was hidden for more than a century.
“Study for ‘Worn Out'” is on view at the Van Gogh Museum through January 2, 2022, when it will be returned to the anonymous private collector who brought it to the Amsterdam institution to confirm its authenticity.
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New Haven, Connecticut-based artist James Lipnickas conjures towering sci-fi structures filled with futuristic labs, clashes with aliens, and massive laser beams shooting from rooftops. Working in graphite, Lipnickas uses heavy shading to shroud his architectural renderings in mystery and unfamiliarity as tentacled creatures crack through the walls and humans become science experiments. “This series really grew out of my interest in advanced technologies integrating with humans and how it shapes us moving forward,” he says.
Amidst the machines and eerie contraptions, the artist interrupts each building with a level containing a garden bed or an illuminated tree grove. “The future holds many unknowns (technology and lifeforms). We can’t forget the natural world while we move further from it,” he says.
Before the end of the year, Lipnickas will show some of his works at Chicago’s Vertical Gallery and in a few virtual exhibitions with WOW x WOW. You can find more of his drawings, and keep an eye out for an expansion of the series shown here, on his Instagram. (via Jeroen Apers)
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Whether adorned with used books, houseplants, or groceries, the tiny shops and corner stores that illustrator Anglea Hao draws are infused with whimsy and admiration for everyday architecture. The digital renderings are part of Hao’s ongoing endeavor to create 365 unique storefronts—she’s already posted hundreds on Instagram that have grown in complexity and depth—and the subject matter is primarily imagined spaces, although some of the earliest works are based on real spots. Prints of the buildings, which frequently feature vine-laden rooftops, pasted advertisements, and a recurring white cat, are available in her shop.
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Interview: Sara Hagale Discusses the Therapeutic Nature of Her Practice and Why She Doesn't Think About Authenticity
Considering their undeniable relatability, it’s no surprise that Sara Hagale’s witty, whimsical, and at times anxious drawings have amassed an incredible following in recent years, a topic she speaks to in a new interview supported by Colossal Members. Her body of work is broad and idiosyncratic, spanning fanciful bouquets of leggy flowers to smudged self-portraits to quirky characters struggling through life, and it offers an array of emotional and aesthetic nuances that are unique to the artist.
I don’t have to feel goofy all the time in order to still be me. And I’m allowed to draw something that feels right to me in that moment even if it doesn’t match up perfectly with the other work I produce.
In a conversation with Colossal managing editor Grace Ebert, Hagale discusses using her practice to process her emotions in real-time, the impossibility of authenticity, and why she prefers to work with limitations.
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Editor's Picks: Science
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