Los Angeles-based artist Matthew Grabelsky (previously) is back with a new collection of oil paintings of people with animal heads casually navigating the New York City subway system. The paintings combine the mundane with the surreal, as others on the commute and the environments remain neutral to the hybrid creatures.
Grabelsky’s paintings are inspired by the years he spent riding the subways in New York as a kid and by his early fascination with Greek mythology. Small details including zoo posters, stickers, T-shirts, and toys add humor to the art, while light reflecting off subway tiles and molded sets show the artist’s technical ability to paint hyperrealistic scenes.
In a recent interview with Thinkspace Project‘s blog Sour Harvest, Grabelsky shared that his characters will soon leave the subway, but added that he wants the shift to be organic. “My concept is that these characters started on the subway and then go out into the wider world. I certainly want to do paintings set in different locations in New York. I was born and am currently living in Los Angeles and so I expect that my characters will make it out to LA at some point.”
To witness the characters’ eventual emergence from the East Coast underground, follow Matthew Grabelsky on Instagram.
Share this story
“ME: An Exhibition of Contemporary Self-Portraiture” asks 22 contemporary artists to explore who they are and how they present themselves. Curated by Sugarlift and Juxtapoz contributing editor and Colossal contributor Sasha Bogojev, the exhibition presents each artists’ understanding of themselves and of the history of self-portraiture. Cesar Piette’s abstract blue face resembles dripping paint partially masked by glasses, while Prudence Flint portrays a woman napping on a pink bed next to a guitar. Many of the artists created their first self-portraits in years, if not ever, specifically for the show, which includes work from Aleah Chapin, Cesar Piette, and Christian Rex van Minnen, among others.
In a conversation with Colossal, Bogojov answered a few questions about contemporary culture and self-awareness, how they influence self-portraiture, and the ways current conceptions of identity show up in ME.
Colossal: How have perceptions of the self changed since the creation of such a selfie-obsessed culture?
Bogojev: Oh, that is a tough one and I’m certain there are papers if not books written on that subject. But I do feel that a selfie-obsessed culture created more self-awareness on different levels. For this show, in particular, I feel like lots of artists wanted to fight against the popular idea of “self” or what we know now as selfie, by presenting themselves imperfect, flawed, caricatured, even grotesque in some cases.
Colossal: Could you talk a little more about the intersections between psyche, mirror, and others that you see in contemporary self-portraiture?
Bogojev: Modern-day takes are rarely realistic renderings of one’s mirror image and are often including elements that suggest qualities beyond that. Whether playing with light, formatting, color scheme, or simply going away from realism completely, they often focus on the author’s character, emotions, and such. I like to believe that this show encompasses that really well with the variety of approaches and visual languages presented.
Colossal: So many conversations about identity center ideas of multiplicity, of people not having a singular self. How do you see that relating to the face and to self-portraits?
Bogojev: Exactly! I think this is what most artists nowadays are fully aware of and that is why they struggle to find the “right way” to create self-portraits or they create multiple versions of it. Again, I feel it’s the superficiality of selfie-culture that made them extra wary of how they present themselves without jeopardizing their integrity and practice. With their artwork being the most direct and honest way of communicating with the world, it is not easy for an artist to pick one image, or even concept, as a single representation of oneself. I think this is why the artists in ME built their self-portraits by layering different visuals (Van Minnen), assembling a variety of elements (Shiqing), creating an atmosphere they connect to (Flint, Toscani, Chapin), captured an intimate moment that describes them best (Erheriene-Essi, O’Brien).
ME is on view from January 16 to 30 at High Line Nine in New York. If you’re in the city on January 21, stop by for “The Self-Portrait: Antiquity to #Selfie,” a talk by art and culture critic and author Carlo McCormick, historian and Sotheby’s VP of Old Masters Painting Calvine Harvey, and contemporary painter Jenny Morgan.
Share this story
A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said. (via Artnet)
Share this story
Sinuous, intertwined wildlife bridge worlds of the living and the dead in Lauren Marx’s intricate multi-media work. Twisting fox heads, disemboweled deer, and lambs bursting with flowers and birds are rendered with watercolor, ink, pen, and colored pencil. Marx often places her animal compositions on semi-abstract backgrounds, awash with grey tones that give a sense of weightlessness to the dense drawings by evoking fog or clouds.
The artist, who resides in her hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri, cites frequent trips to the Saint Louis Zoo, biology classes, and National Geographic television shows as cultivating her lifelong interest in animals. Her latest body of work debuts December 14, 2019, at Corey Helford Gallery. The show, titled Chimera, is an evolution from her previous pieces, combining multiple animals into each artwork to combine their symbolic meanings.
“Chimera further explores my concepts of fauna representations of emotions, personal mental health, family, and self,” Marx shares in a statement. “I am creating a mythological world, centered around North American flora and fauna, to better expresses my image of who I am, how I am perceived, my struggles with mental health, and to explore self-healing.”
Marx studied Fine Art at Webster University and draws inspiration from zoology, mythology, scientific illustration, and Northern Renaissance themes. The artist shares with Colossal that in 2020 she wants to continue to challenge herself technically and conceptually, and that works in the Chimera show brought her practice to new levels in terms of scale and complexity.
See Chimera through January 18, 2020, at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, and explore more of Marx’s intricate illustrative artwork on Instagram. The artist also offers prints and stickers on Etsy.
Share this story
Artist Adam S. Doyle (previously) is known for his paintings of birds and other animals that call attention to, rather than mask, his brush strokes. In his latest series, “Night Fall Trees,” Doyle shifts his focus to a different living entity. “By putting trees front and center as subjects, instead of relegating them to the background where they usually are, I’m saying these silent sentinels of our planet deserve our full attention and respect,” the artist shares with Colossal.
Like his other series, “Night Fall Trees” centers on Doyle’s obsession with energy. The swirling tree branches are wound tightly within each other, the tufts of leaves envelop the top branches, and the widespread roots bury themselves into the ground. Inspired by a nighttime glimpse of a well-lit tree last October, Doyle also says this series is about the seasons and the resilience the trees have.
Fall is often associated with colorful foliage, which is best seen during the day. But fall is also a season about transition, heading in for the long nights and bone-chilling cold. Winter is a hard time. Trees get through it, though. These paintings reflect on being ready for what’s to come and like the trees knowing we’ll get through it. There will be blossoming once again in the spring.
Doyle tells Colossal his creative plans include writing fiction and nonfiction. You can keep up with the artist’s latest energized paintings on Facebook. He even has another site for his children’s projects.
Share this story
An animated short film written and directed by Carol Freeman uses an old-fashioned technique called paint-on-glass to form each luminescent frame. At seven minutes long, The Bird & the Whale is comprised of 4,300 paintings created by a small team of female artists in Dublin, Ireland. The animated film tells the story of a young whale, struggling to find its voice, who finds a caged bird that is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. The Bird & the Whale has been lauded at festivals worldwide, including the Silver Screen Award for Best Animated Film at Cannes’ Young Director Awards. Freeman, who majored in animation at the National Film School of Ireland, also co-founded Paper Panther Productions. Watch the making-of inpthe video below and follow Paper Panther on Instagram.
Share this story
Museo del Prado (Prado Museum) recently collaborated on a project with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) designed to coincide with the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid. Paintings from the museum’s collection were digitally modified to reflect a future world destroyed by inaction. Rising sea levels, barren rivers, and refugee camps transform works by European painters into a campaign to save the environment.
The project is titled “+ 1,5ºC Lo Cambia Todo,” which translates from Spanish to mean “+ 1.5ºC Changes Everything.” Paintings by three Spanish artists (Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, and Joaquín Sorolla) and one Flemish Renaissance painter (Joachim Patinir) were chosen for the project by WWF and museum experts. The altered works were installed on billboards in Madrid and shared online using the hashtag #LoCambiaTodo as a way to expand and continue political and social conversations through art.
“For the Museum, this project represents an opportunity to continue placing art and its values at the service of society,” Javier Solana, Prado’s Royal Board of Trustees President, said in a statement. “The symbolic value of the masterpieces and the impressive artistic recreation that we present with WWF is an excellent way to transmit to everyone and especially to the young generations what is really at stake in this fight against climate change.” (via Artnet)
Update: CHINA Madrid Creative Director Nico Ordozgoiti shares that the retouchers involved with the project are Pedro Veloso (Goya), Marta Zafra (Velázquez), Julio Falagan (Patinir), and Conspiracy (Sorolla).
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.