Spanish street artist Pejac (previously) addresses the concept of “returning to normal” in a discerning new series that focuses on the urgency of the issues affecting the world today. Centered on the increasingly disastrous effects of the climate crisis and the social issues that dominate the news cycle, the artist speaks to the myriad global crises in his largest exhibition to date, which opens on October 30 in a former train factory in Berlin. Titled APNEA, the solo show features 45 of his newest works in myriad mediums and themes, including chaotic scenes in acrylic, oil, and spray paints, delicate honeycomb on cardboard, and large-scale sculptures and installations that occupy the industrial space.
Pejac created many of the pieces on view since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an ongoing concern that also formed the basis for his 2020 trio of interventions paying tribute to health care workers. The new series includes a disquieting depiction of the White House overcome by a violent riot, with canisters releasing billowing smoke and an unaware figure golfing in the foreground, in addition to a cyclone-like drain on a paint palette. Other pieces depict a surreal earthen map of the U.S. with state lines cracked in the dirt and a rendering of Rodin’s “The Thinker” precariously balanced on scaffolding. “During a time of lockdown, painting within the four walls of my studio felt like a liberation and a lifeline. APNEA represents this contradiction,” the artist says.
To coincide with the show’s opening, Pejac is releasing “The Boss” (shown below) as limited-edition prints and postcards available through a lottery system, and proceeds will be donated to Sea-Watch, a German NGO that has helped thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The artist also teamed up with the organization for an installation depicting a child wearing a life jacket atop Neo-Gothic Holy Cross Church in Berlin, a heartwrenching visual that draws attention to the refugee crisis. You can find out more about the release and see additional works on Instagram.
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Movement, motion, and emotion permeate the joyful, pointillistic paintings by Ghanaian artist Betty Acquah. Rendering dancing children, costumed troupes, and their surroundings simultaneously, Acquah conveys celebratory moments by cloaking her scenes with countless dots of acrylic. “The background echoes the movement of figures and therefore create(s) a pulsating surface that brings the composition alive,” she tells Colossal. “By extending dabs of color in the subject matter into the background and vice-versa, an illusion of movement is created.”
Each richly layered piece blurs the figures’ defining features, casting them as anonymous, everyday people. “Women are the unsung heroines of the Ghanaian Republic,” says a statement from Kuaba Gallery, which represents the artist. “The images she depicts tell of ordinary women working courageously towards a greater Ghana.”
Born near the Atlantic Ocean, Acquah is currently exploring beachscapes, aerial, abstract compositions, and the connection between younger women and their socioeconomic statuses. You can find more of her recent works at Kuaba Gallery. (via Women’s Art)
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In abandoned sheds, tiny campers, and imposing, hilltop castles, Scottish artist Andrew McIntosh (previously) nestles glowing entryways to mysterious new worlds. The illuminated portals are central to the artist’s ongoing interest in exploration, curiosity, and a never-ending desire to uncover the unknown, and they offer a tiny window into what lies beyond the immediate landscapes. Each of the compositions exudes a ghostly air, with fog or storm clouds hanging above the once-occupied spaces.
Whether the focus of the work or tucked in an enclave, art historical references proliferate many of McIntosh’s oil-based paintings. He positions the renowned works often preserved in institution halls within the context of outdoor settings or dilapidated travel trailers, a subversion that establishes his conceptual framework. In his most recent series, the artist reimagines the “Tower of Babel” as a rugged termite hill and places the catacombs of the Colisseum into a paint-chipped caravan, a vehicle he sees as “the perfect symbol of human hardiness and the intrepid desire to explore, an instinct that exists no matter how small or humble the being.”
Some of the paintings shown here are part of McIntosh’s solo show God Shaped Holes, which is up through October 30 at London’s James Freeman Gallery, and you can explore a larger collection of his works on his site and Instagram.
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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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Photographic artist Jim Naughten casts a fantastical, candy-colored lens over luxuriant ecosystems and surreal animal portraits in Eremozoic, a solo exhibition on view at Grove Square Galleries through November 18. Comprised of digitally altered compositions, the series centers on rhinos, manatees, and myriad wild animals in strange, unearthly settings: a tall brown bear stands on its hind legs in a field of bright pink grass, a gorilla rests in similarly vibrant foliage, and orangutans swing through leafy branches in shades of blue.
While the animals usually are isolated in true color, the backdrops evoke infrared photography, and Naughten’s unnatural alterations tinge the otherwise realistic imagery with magical elements. The artist says the manipulations convey humanity’s ever-growing disconnect with the environment, which he explains in a statement:
I’m interested in how, in the evolutionary blink of an eye, humans have come to dominate and overwhelm the planet and how far our relationship with the natural world has fundamentally and dangerously shifted from that of our ancestors. I hope the work will create awareness and discourse about this disconnection, our fictionalized ideas about nature and possibilities for positive change.
Although the pieces venture into a strange realm of kaleidoscopic details, they have biological reality at their core, and the exhibition title, Eremozoic, refers to the current era of the earth’s evolution. Biologist and writer E. O. Wilson introduced the term to characterize this “period of mass extinction due to human activity. The Eremozoic Age is alternatively referred to as The Age of Loneliness, and this sense of dislocation and disorientation is captured in Naughten’s depiction of nature as an unfamiliar, unnatural realm.”
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Artist Lee Me Kyeoung (previously) continues her decades-long project of painting the dwindling number of Korean corner stores, rendering quaint shops in Yangsan, Gyeongju, Gunwi, Sangju, and Cheorwon as part of her ongoing A Small Store series. The delicate artworks capture the idiosyncrasies and tiny details of each locale, like a plastic washbasket left out front or signage hanging from the eaves, and the vast collection includes shops in both remote and bustling neighborhoods across South Korea. Encapsulating the unique qualities of the quickly shuttering stores, Me Keyoung’s paintings preserve their cultural legacies in detailed acrylic.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.