narrative

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Art

Spirited Narratives Drive Whimsical, Patterned Paintings by Monica Rohan

May 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Kate, awkward” (2015), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches. All images © Monica Rohan, shared with permission

Whether unwrapping themselves from textile folds or balancing atop spindly stools, Monica Rohan’s figures are perpetually in motion. The painter depicts adventurous subjects set amongst whimsical worlds of overgrown bushes, vibrant seas of fabric, and cloudless skies rendered in patches blue. “The figure brings tension, the possibility of a narrative,” she tells Colossal. Rohan envisions each character as the impetus for action in her playful landscapes and thickly decorated domestic scenes.

Each piece begins with the artist exploring a photographic catalog she maintains with imagery of nature, interiors, and self-portraits.

These are developed through photo sessions which last anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. I then translate this content into sketches and studies, finding different ways to pull patterns out and manipulate the figure before moving forward with the painting proper…The first marks on the board are a transfer of a sketch for the figure. I’ll then start painting and slowly work my way across the surface in a single layer, constantly making micro-decisions and balancing the image as I go. The figure in this way acts as a sort of anchor that the rest of the painting moves around.

Often drawing from texts she’s reading—Charlotte Brontë’s Villette is one—the artist imbues fictional tales into her works. “I’m interested in when real life and fiction bleed into one another. I’ve always been an avid reader, but happily, nowadays I can read and paint at the same time thanks to audio-books. Often whatever I’m reading filters through into titles for works and indirectly into the paintings themselves,” she says. 

To see more of Rohan’s densely patterned paintings, head to Artsy and Instagram, where she also shares progress shots and some of the original photographs that inspire her dreamlike pieces.

 

“Of course not” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

“Deliberating” (2015), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

Left: “Unshrinking unthinking” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches. Right: “Turn me down” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

“Re-appear” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

Left: “Flung” (2015), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches. Right: “Peak drag” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

“Humming” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

“Polite decline” (2019), oil on board, 31 1/2 × 23 3/5 inches

 

 



Craft Illustration

Paper Figures and Objects by Bethany Bickley Spring From Book Pages

May 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Bethany Bickley

A measure of well-written fiction is its ability to provoke clear images in the minds of its readers. For Bethany Bickley, though, the joy of envisioning protagonists and scenery has a more literal element. The Savannah-based artist utilizes pages torn from classics, magazines, and contemporary works to fashion distinctive paper sculptures of clenched fists, a lounging reader, and a trio of masks. Each figurative work serves as a tangible representation of otherwise imagined visuals.

Among her bookish sculptures are the iconic pear tree from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, a seated Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and an amalgam of weapons and detective objects to symbolize the thriller genre. In a statement, Bickley said she merges narrative and imagery “to tell a story with impact and purpose. If there are no visuals, I create them.”

To see more of the artist’s illustrative projects and take a peek at her process, head to Instagram. (via designboom)

 

 

 



Art

Nevermore Park Manifests the Fictional Universe of Hebru Brantley’s Flyboy and Lil Mama

March 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Amy Lombard, shared with permission

Packed within a 6,000-square-foot space on Chicago’s south side is a fictional universe teeming with pinned up newspaper clippings, towers of retro electronics, and tons of vintage advertising from McDonald’s to Vienna Hot Dogs. It’s the world of Hebru Brantley’s iconic characters, Lil Mama and Flyboy, whose enlarged head rests on the floor in one room of the immersive installation, titled Nevermore Park. Moving through the pathways lined with plastic toys and paint-spattered pallets, visitors pass a downed spaceship and a brick wall of street art, elements that structure Brantley’s narrative for the surreal environment.

The Los Angeles-based artist cites the tales of the superheroes and comic books he engaged with during his childhood living in Chicago as directly impacting his current projects. “I’m in love with creating and I have so many stories I want to tell,” he tells Colossal. “I want my work to create a narrative that hasn’t been told before, in ways others haven’t seen expressed. I’m working to create the things I wished existed.”

Although Brantley created many of the objects specifically for Nevermore Park, he also amassed thousands of pieces of real ephemera that create a strong undercurrent of Chicago’s history as expressed through pop culture, toys, magazines, and found objects. The periodicals lining the newsstand, for example, belonged to his grandmother. “She had saved a number of them and it created a unique opportunity for me to incorporate these real historical artifacts into my body of work for visitors to experience. Everything weaves together with the goal of staying authentic to the stories I wanted to tell,” he says.

Nevermore Park, though, is intended “to be a total sensory experience,” inspiring Brantley to collaborate with WILLS on the audio component, offering a soundtrack that he says visitors always ask about. “Bringing people into a space they wouldn’t normally occupy with sounds that are familiar, amplify the story and culture even more,” he writes. “Sight is an important aspect of the experience but so is the sound piped into each section.”

If you’re in Chicago, there are tickets available to visit Nevermore Park through May 3. Otherwise, head to Instagram to keep up with Brantley and see what’s next for Flyboy, Lil Mama, and Nevermore Park.

 

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Art

Narrative Optical Illusions Painted by Rob Gonsalves

May 9, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves explores childlike stories of wonder through his surrealist paintings, capturing peeks of one’s internal daydreams through dual scene optical illusions. The works express both the real and the imaginative, painting a space where one can explore beyond physical limits. In his pieces inspired by the work of MC Escher and Magritte, subjects discover secret gardens hidden in carpets, forests just beyond the border of living rooms, and castles in misty lagoons. You can view more of Gonsalves paintings on Facebook. (via Booooooom)

 

 



Art Illustration

New Laser-Cut Wood Illustrations by Martin Tomsky

December 4, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

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Inspired by the relics of his parents’ past as Czech publishers and book smugglers, Martin Tomsky (previously) produces laser-cut illustrations that introduce depth with several layers of plywood in varying tones. Originally immersed in drawing detailed scenes on paper, Tomsky transferred his skills to the 3D, creating stories that seem tangled in lore and feature the outlines of animal skeletons, dense forestry, and mythical beasts.

The London-based artist aims to create work that speaks to craft, illustration, and sculpture, each piece serving as both a decorative object and wall-mounted story. Although many of his works are large and intricate productions, he also works small, singling out animal characters like owls, rabbits, and badgers in necklace pendants and brooches. You can see more of Tomsky’s laser-cut tales on his Etsy and Facebook page here.

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Photography

The Storybook Fantasies of Dara Scully

November 27, 2011

Christopher Jobson

The world of Spanish artist Dara Scully is filled with childlike fantasy, her photos blending the lines between fact and fiction, each loaded with rich narrative potential. Acting frequently as the protagonist, Scully places herself in a world where bicycles are strapped to hot air balloons, where she parties with miniature elephants, and has adventures rivaling those of Alice in Wonderland. I can only hope an enterprising children’s book publisher will reach out to her soon. Follow along via Flickr. (thnx, dara!)

 

 



Art Photography

Quasi Cinema

August 10, 2011

Christopher Jobson

I just covered the work of Lucas Simões less than 10 posts ago but he just uploaded this new project called Quasi Cinema that seemed worth mentioning. Using sequential photographs that have been bent and woven with string into long rows he recreates a sense of cinematic motion in these wall-mounted installations. Much more here.