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Art

Contemplative Works by Ali Cavanaugh Consider Vulnerability and the Sublime Through Watercolor

January 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Steep” (2017), 16 x 20 inches. All images © Ali Cavanaugh, shared with permission

Through delicate washes of peach, aqua, and smoky gray, St. Louis-based artist Ali Cavanaugh (previously) renders watercolor portraits that lay her subjects’ spirits bare. “I’m continually searching for something complex in human expression,” she tells Colossal. “Curiosity, sadness, wonder, hesitation, peace, and acceptance all in one glance.”

Cavanaugh paints her dreamlike works on wet clay panels, allowing the bright backdrops to illuminate the translucent pigments. The resulting works are introspective and intimate while simultaneously harnessing the universal experience of the sublime. “I want the viewer to look at one of my portraits and say, ‘What are they thinking?,’ and also at the same time say, ‘This is so familiar and is exactly how my loved one looks at me when they are vulnerable,'” she says.

If you’re in New York, you can see Cavanaugh’s portraits through January 28 at Salmagundi Club. Otherwise, shop available originals on her site, and keep an eye out for future print releases on Instagram. She also shares videos chronicling her process and tutorials on some of her techniques on Patreon.

 

“Above,” 12 x 12 inches

“Smolder” (2017), 12 x 12 inches

“Only Once” (2015), 18 x 18 inches

“Confidante” (2017), 12 x 16 inches

“One to Listen and One to Love”

“Rest on Water” (2017), 12 x 12 inches

 

 



Art

Diminutive Figures Traverse Vibrant, Post-Climate Disaster Environments by Seonna Hong

January 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Kid World” (2021). All images © Seonna Hong, courtesy of Hashimoto Contemporary, shared with permission

In Late Bloomer, Los Angeles-based artist Seonna Hong wades into landscapes filled with amorphous swatches of color and marred by climate disaster. Her acrylic, oil, and pastel works are on view through February 5 at Hashimoto Contemporary in Los Angeles in an introspective solo show that considers her place in an ever-evolving world. Set against abstract, blurred backdrops, Hong’s distinctly rendered animals and anonymous subjects navigate distorted terrains of once-familiar architecture and natural landmarks.

Many of the stylized compositions evoke traditional Korean landscapes from the Joseon period—these are known for their asymmetrical forms, vibrant brushstrokes, and skewed perspectives—that contemplate the human-nature relationship by placing miniature figures among formidable environments. “I’m a second-generation Korean American that is surprised to be making identity-based work but realizing I’ve been making it all along. I’ve spent my entire life between the push and pull of being Korean and American, never feeling quite Korean enough or American enough,” Hong writes on Instagram. “I’ve realized the inherent connection between my work and my history, a belated but cherished revelation.”

 

“Granny Square” (2021)

“In The Joseon Period” (2021)

“The View From the Studio” (2021)

“Sunset Stone” (2021)

“Gumball Dystopia” (2021)

“Like Minded” (2021)

 

 



Art

Shipping Containers and Intersecting Lines Clutter Landscapes in Mary Iverson's Paintings on Globalization

January 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Calamity at Cairo,” acrylic and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches. All images © Mary Iverson, shared with permission

Latticed lines and brightly colored boxes overlay the chaotically transformed landscapes by Mary Iverson (previously). Based in Seattle, the artist uses a combination of oil and acrylic paints, ink, and found photographs to render shockingly prescient scenes blighted by globalization and environmental disaster: barges and shipping containers float in the sea and haphazardly occupy beaches, with their contents sometimes spilling out onto the surrounding area.

The largely natural scenes and the clean, angled lines and geometric forms clash in Iverson’s superimposed works in a manner that evokes the competition of industry. In a note to Colossal, she shares that given the dramatic changes the world has undergone in the last few years, her “paintings are no longer theoretical.” She explains:

Because at the same time as the pandemic was unfolding, the super mega-ships were entering the trade system. Everyone was stuck at home and ordering stuff at an unprecedented pace, the demand for goods got very high, the workforce shrank, and everything got backed up, creating “supply chain issues.” We now have actual real sea-level rise, huge apocalyptic fires, and shipping disasters unfolding before our very eyes. We are at the precipice of an apocalypse. The question is, how are we going to deal with it?

Often rendered on images of historically and culturally significant sites like Machu Picchu, the Colosseum, and the pyramids of Cairo, Iverson’s works indicate the evolution of human society with a bleak, discouraging perspective. “I look at photos of lost civilizations and think about their hopes, dreams, and ideals, and I wonder what the end will look like for us,” she says.

Iverson shares glimpses into her process and works-in-progress on Instagram, and prints of “Calamity at Cairo” are available in the Juxtapoz shop through January 19.

 

“Sunk 2,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Calamity at Crater Lake,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Lost Shipment,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Calamity at Machu Picchu,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Calamity at the Colosseum,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Point Reyes Lighthouse,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Calamity at Summit Lake (Mount Rainier),” oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

“Rube Beach with Containers,” oil on canvas

“Fleet,” acrylic, ink, and found photograph on panel, 12 x 12 inches

 

 



Art

Teeming with Leaves and Grasses, Oil Paintings Cloaked in Lush Foliage Evoke the Forest Floor

January 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © JA Paunkovic, shared with permission

Thick foliage in shades of green sprout from every inch of JA Paunkovic’s canvases. The Serbian husband-and-wife duo of Jelena and Aleksandar render luxuriant scenes brimming with realistic plant life. Patches of verdant grasses, shrubs, and flowering specimens sprawl across the oil-based works, which mimic the lush patches of vegetation that the pair encounters while hiking.  “Visiting (a) new environment becomes material that will later serve us in the studio as a sketch for a new painting,” Jelena shares. “We have found a way to bring nature to a home or gallery and hang it on the wall to serve as a reminder that we need to think more about how our modern lifestyle affects the environment.”

In addition to working on a few commissions, the artists currently are building a new studio, and you can follow their progress on Instagram. Find limited-edition prints and originals in their shop.

 

 

 



Art

Playfully Absurd, Idiosyncratic Characters Grace the Salvaged Book Sculptures by Mike Stilkey

January 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mike Stilkey, shared with permission

Dapper penguins, nonchalant musicians, and self-destructive politicians are a few of the distinct figures adorning Mike Stilkey’s sculptures. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) rummages through heaps of discarded books, plucking out complementary titles that become the basis for his towering works. Using ink, colored pencil, paint, and lacquer, he renders minimal portraits of figures with exaggerated limbs or instruments and gestures that show a flair for the absurd.

Vacillating from the playful and whimsical to the cheeky and ironic, Stilkey’s idiosyncratic, sometimes anthropomorphized characters translate an essential interpretation of the volumes’ messages or subject matter through a contemporary lens. He explains:

Sometimes it’s a wry, tongue-in-cheek, satirical kind of thing, and sometimes it’s an extension or interpretation of it. It depends on the book and my mood. There’s been a lot of fodder over the past couple of years with all of the political conversations and things you hear or read on the news or social media. But I’ve always been able to do this with books. It’s one of the reasons I started using books as a canvas or vehicle for painting—the richness of layering literary and visual narratives over each other to convey something more complex.

As well as the repurposed sculptures shown here, Stilkey also creates installations with thousands of books and large characters, although these on-site projects have been put on hold since the onset of the pandemic. Prints and postcards are available in the artist’s shop, and you can follow his works on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Ethereal Oil Paintings by Ekaterina Popova Glimpse the Warm, Intimate Interiors of Home

January 5, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Ekaterina Popova, shared with permission

Within the confines of a canvas, Russian artist Ekaterina Popova nurtures the calm, familiar atmosphere of home. Her dreamlike interiors are comprised of blurred edges and thick brushstrokes in oil that cast a subtle haze over each scene, and Popova’s warm, impressionistic style lends itself to the lived-in feeling of her paintings: a quilt hangs off the edge of a mattress, a book rests in the window as if it was just set down by its reader, and the lunch remnants remain on a dressed table.

Often depicting her own bedroom and friends’ spaces, Popova focuses on an array of textures like slatted wood flooring, fur blankets, floral bedding, and lush foliage, and the natural light or soft glow of a lamp that illuminates the scenes bolsters their sense of comfort and intimacy. She explains:

For the past few years, I have been exploring interiors in my work. The interest started as a way for me to reflect on my upbringing in Russia, but eventually progressed to exploring the overall idea of “home” and what it means me now… My paintings include messy rooms, intimate items, and objects that refer to human presence without including the figure.

Currently based in Philadelphia, Popova has paintings on view from January 6 to 29 at Cohle Gallery in Paris. Dive into more of her work on her site and Instagram.