Floral Arrangements Instigate Trivial Actions in Ethan Murrow’s Meticulous Graphite Drawings
In his solo exhibition Magic Bridge, Vermont-born artist Ethan Murrow (previously) overwhelms his subjects with sprawling floral assemblages that cloud their senses and judgment. The graphite drawings center largely on figures undertaking precarious and trivial activities to exert some form of control, often through futile underwater adventures and inexplicable actions atop wooden platforms.
On view at Winston Wächter through April 30, the meticulous renderings are tinged with parody and embrace the bizarre and indeterminate. In addition to the smaller works on paper, Murrow is also creating a large-scale mural in his signature imaginative style at the New York gallery—see the work-in-progress on Instagram. Each of the pieces “mull(s) the lines between logic and belief,” he writes.
A limited-edition lithograph of Murrow’s “Planting Time” is currently available from Deb Chaney Editions, and the artist also has works on view at Winston Wächter’s Seattle space through March 19.
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Reality and Imagined Meditative States Converge in Tomás Sánchez’s Tranquil Landscapes
Through serene, idyllic landscapes, Tomás Sánchez visualizes his long-harbored fascination with meditation. The practice, the Cuban painter says, is “where I find many of the answers to questions that transcend from the personal to the universal. Meditation is not always a fleeting time. Meditation is not a punctual exercise; it is a constant practice.”
Rather than conceptualize the exercise as a temporary state, Sánchez views mediation as a lens to interpret the world, a recurring theme that has foregrounded much of his work during the last few decades. His acrylic paintings and hazy graphite drawings, which take months if not years to complete, highlight the immensity and awe-inspiring qualities of a forest thick with vegetation or a nearby waterfall and offer perspective through a lone, nondescript figure often found amongst the trees. Distinct and heavily detailed, the realistic landscapes aren’t based on a specific place but rather are imagined spaces available only through a ruminative state.
If you’re in New York, stop by Marlborough Gallery to see Sánchez’s solo show, which is on view from November 18 to January 22. Titled Inner Landscape, the exhibition encompasses multiple pieces never shown before, including the pristine scenes shown here. Until then, explore more of his works on Instagram.
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Mystery and Fantasy Veil Black-and-White Illustrations by Artist David Álvarez
Continually fascinated by the potential of the human figure, Mexico-based artist David Álvarez (previously) illustrates richly textured scenes with a dose of fantasy and surrealism: a bird’s perch transfixes a character who’s sprouted a branch nose, a man writhes on the ground as he grows from a gnarled stump, and a Cheshire cat lifts a blanket to unveil a moon hidden beneath. Underlying many of his works is “the expressive force and the gesture of the human body,” Álvarez tells Colossal, themes that are rendered through highlights and dense markings in graphite that add intrigue and mystery to the monochromatic depictions.
The illustrations shown here are a mix of personal projects and commissions, and “Cage” is slated for the cover of Álvarez’s forthcoming book about overcoming prejudices and stereotypes called Bird Woman. You can follow his black-and-white works on Instagram, and shop sketches, prints, and originals.
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Marred with Dark Hole Punches, Monochromatic Drawings and Paintings Evoke Depression-Era Negatives
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.
To see more of Killing the Negative, head to Phillips’s site and peek into his process on Instagram.
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Eerie Graphite Drawings Encase Aliens and Sci-Fi Experiments in Looming Stacked Towers
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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Vines and Flowers Intertwine with an Imposing Skeleton in an Elegant Graphite Drawing by Guno Park
Brooklyn-based artist Guno Park evokes the tradition of memento mori with an exquisite new drawing highlighting the precarious line between life and death. Titled “Nature of Things,” the meticulously crosshatched piece rendered in graphite stands at a striking 85 inches, portraying the oversized human figure with botanicals winding around its spinal column and through its chest. “Putting the skeleton together with vine, leaves, and flowers represents for me the power of nature and its inevitability of continuum. I find comfort in nature,” the artist says.
Park shares that although skulls and bones are common subject matter, he relegated most to his sketchbook until magnifying the concept a few months into the pandemic. “This drawing has been a journey —as many drawings are—that started a little more than a year ago…I think our whole world was reminded of how close death can be, and I had a constant reminder of it on the news and media,” he says.
In addition to his studio practice, Park teaches drawing at The New York Academy of Art, ArtCenter, and New York Film Academy, and you can see more of his figurative drawings on Instagram.
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