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Art

Artist Amy Sherald Depicts a Vast Array of Black Leisure through Monumental and Nuanced Portraits

April 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

“A Midsummer Afternoon Dream” (2020), oil on canvas, 106 x 101 x 2.5 inches. All images courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, shared with permission

Amy Sherald plumbs the multitudes of Black leisure in The Great American Fact, a series of arresting portraits that are currently on view at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. From a woman resting on a bicycle to two surfers readying for the water, the oil-based paintings observe moments of respite and pleasure at a monumental scale, sometimes spanning nearly nine feet across.

Although she surrounds her subjects with vivid patches of color and portrays them wearing bright garments, Sherald (previously) continues to render her subjects’ skin in her signature grayscale, which she’s described in recent years as a way to have the figures read “in a universal way, where they could become a part of the mainstream art historical narrative.” This new series also features elements synonymous with American culture, including a white picket fence, Barbie T-shirt, and retro convertible.

The collection’s title draws on the work of Anna Julia Cooper, an educator who in 1892 wrote A Voice From the South by a Black Woman of the South. In the classic Black feminist text, Cooper described Black people as “‘the great American fact’; the one objective reality on which scholars sharpened their wits, and at which orators and statesmen fired their eloquence.” This understanding structures Sherald’s work and provides guideposts for considering “public Blackness,” particularly as the Georgia-born artist portrays figures with rich personal lives full of ease, relaxation, and joy. When much of Black life historically has centered around grappling with injustice and social issues, Sherald’s turn inward provides a nuanced view of her subjects.

The five paintings shown here are on view through June 6, and you can find a larger collection of Sherald’s elegantly subversive works on her site and Instagram.

 

“An Ocean Away” (2020), oil on canvas, 130 x 108 x 2.5 inches

“Hope is the thing with feathers (The little bird)” (2020), oil on linen, 54 x 43 x 2.5 inches

“As American as apple pie” (2020), oil on canvas, 123 x 101 x 2.5 inches

Detail of “Hope is the thing with feathers (The little bird)” (2020), oil on linen, 54 x 43 x 2.5 inches

Detail of “A Midsummer Afternoon Dream” (2020), oil on canvas, 106 x 101 x 2.5 inches

“A bucket full of treasures (Papa gave me sunshine to put in my pockets…)” (2020), oil on linen, 54 x 43 x 2.5 inches

 

 



Art

Flora and Fauna Intertwine in Delicate Mixed-Media Artworks by Teagan White

April 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Oasis,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 20 inches x 20 inches. All images courtesy of Nucleus Portland, shared with permission

Sinuous branches half-submerged in water, fish swimming through the treetops, and plant life spearing small birds compose the intricate entanglements rendered by Teagan White. Through gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil, the artist merges plant and animal life in delicate scenes that focus on the interconnectedness and beauty of the natural world.

Having just moved to the Pacific Northwest, much of White’s work draws on their years spent biking throughout the Midwest and viscerally experiencing life and death on the region’s roadways. The artist describes their recent series, Things As They Are & As They Could Be, which includes many of the mixed-media pieces shown here, as “meditations on peril and possibility; what has been lost and what remains; dystopian presents and improbable futures.” It’s on view now through May 3 at Nucleus Portland.

Find glimpses into White’s process and see works-in-progress on Instagram, and pick up prints, stickers, and other goods in their shop.(via Supersonic Art)

 

“Citadel,” watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil on paper, 20 x 20 inches

“Yield,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 11 x 14 inches

“Waver,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 8 x 10 inches

“Wander,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 8 x 10 inches

“Territory,” watercolor and gouache on paper, 18 x 24 inches

 

 



Art

Flowers Mutate into Peculiar Blossoms in 18th-Century-Style Paintings by Laurent Grasso

April 13, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Future Herbarium,” distemper on wood, 33.5 x 24 x 4.2 centimeters. Photo by Claire Dorn, courtesy of Perrotin. All images © Laurent Grasso/ADAGP, Paris, 2021, shared with permission

In Laurent Grasso’s Future Herbarium, small bunches of flowers evolve into bizarre forms with doubled pistils and petals sprouting in thick layers and tufts. Painted in distemper or oil, the transformed blooms are depicted as typical studies of specimens common in the 18th century. The mutations bring together historical aesthetics and transformations from an imagined future, provoking “an impression of strangeness where beauty and anxiety are mixed,” the Paris-based artist says.

Grasso works in multiple mediums, from painting to sculpture to film, and the themes of time and transformation permeate many of his projects. Future Herbarium stems from “ARTIFICIALIS,” a film slated for screening at the Musée d’Orsay, that considers the liminal spaces between nature and culture in relation to images. In its presentation at Hong Kong’s Perrotin (which is up through April 24) and the Jeonnam Museum of Art in Gwangyang (which is on view virtually and in-person through June 30), the series is paired with another project dealing with the impacts of solar wind on the earth. “The Future Herbarium’s flowers are thus subjected to an imaginary catastrophe, which would have produced mutations but also to these solar winds,” the artist says.

In addition to the two exhibitions in Hong Kong and Gwangyang, Grasso’s work will be on view at Aranya Art Center in Qinhuangdao, China, through May 16, at Artspace in Sydney from April 28 to July 11, at Pompidou Shanghai from May 1 to October 10, and at Musée de l’Armée in Paris from May 7, 2021, to January 30, 2022. Explore more of his multi-disciplinary practice on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“Future Herbarium,” distemper on wood, 34 x 24 x 4.5 centimeters. Photo by Claire Dorn, courtesy of Perrotin

“Future Herbarium,” oil on wood, 33.6 x 24 x 4.8 centimeters. Photo by Claire Dorn, courtesy of Perrotin

“Future Herbarium,” distemper on wood, 34 x 24 x 4.5 centimeters. Photo by Claire Dorn, courtesy of Perrotin

“Future Herbarium,” distemper on wood, 34 x 24 x 4.5 centimeters. Courtesy of Perrotin

“Future Herbarium” (2020), white bronze, 135 x 20 x 20 centimeters. Photo by Ringo Cheung, courtesy of Perrotin

“Future Herbarium” (2020), white bronze, 135 x 20 x 20 centimeters. Photo by Claire Dorn, courtesy of Courtesy Perrotin

 

 



Art

Ironic Compositions Juxtapose Outlandish Scenarios in Paco Pomet's New Paintings

April 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

“The Lesson” (2020), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 centimeters. All images © Paco Pomet, shared with permission

In Beginnings, Spanish artist Paco Pomet (previously) visualizes a series of jarring and absurd scenarios born out of an equally concerning event. He juxtaposes disparate elements—a mushroom cloud erupting in a classroom, women cavalierly poking at a tabletop sunrise, a mountain range lying on an operating table—in a series of satirical commentaries infused with pop culture references and nods to art history.

Generally contrasting a black-and-white scene with a recurring, full-color sunrise or sunset, Pomet’s compositions merge time periods and situations to mark the start of a new reality, a broad theme tied to the current moment. “Romanticism with a twist of irony is a very powerful visual engine,” he says about the series.

If you’re in Santa Monica, Beginnings is on view through May 8 at Richard Heller Gallery. Otherwise, find more of Pomet’s humorous and bizarre compositions on Artsy and Instagram.

 

“Little Big Grief” (2020), oil on canvas, 51 1/5 × 66 9/10 inches

“Hesperides” (2020), oil on canvas, 51 1/5 × 66 9/10 inches

“Melancholy School” (2020), oil on canvas, 51 1/5 × 59 1/10 inches

“The Art of Scaling” (2020), oil on canvas, 51 1/5 × 59 1/10 inches

“Headstrong” (2020), oil on canvas, 23 3/5 × 28 7/10 inches

“Classicism” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 × 73 inches

“Das Erhabene Büro (diptych)” (2020), oil on canvas, 59 1/10 × 102 2/5 inches

 

 

 



Art

Light Casts a Magical Glow on the Residential Hills of Los Angeles in Paintings by Seth Armstrong

April 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Purple Mountain” (2020), oil on wood panel, 48 x 36 inches. All images © Seth Armstrong, shared with permission

“Color and light are basically all I think about when I’m painting,” says Seth Armstrong. Working with oil paints on wood, the Los Angeles-based artist renders the sloping hills of his native California county in bold, saturated tones. Depicting the staggered houses and vegetation in the glow of golden hour or just after sunrise, Armstrong balances both hyperrealism and more sweeping, gestural strokes. He includes the occasional candy-colored hue to veil the densely populated landscape—the artist notes that small details can be difficult to perceive when not viewing the works in person—with a layer of magic. “The paintings do become, for me, more than a depiction of light and color,” he writes. “But that’s a personal relationship we have.”

A limited-edition print of “Purple Mountain” releases on April 12 through Unit Drops, and Armstrong will have a solo show at Unit London this fall. Check out his Instagram for a larger collection of his paintings and glimpses into his home studio, where he works alongside ceramicist Madeleine Pellegren. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“5:30,” oil on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches

“Green House” (2020), oil on wood panel, 14.5 x 14.5 inches

“Pink Moment” (2020), oil on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches

“November” (2020), oil on wood panel, 19.75 x 27.5 inches

“September” (2020), oil on wood panel, 18 x 18 inches

“March” (2020), oil on wood panel, 36 x 36 inches

 

 



Art

Plants, Hair, and Shadows Obscure Women in Introspective Gouache Paintings

March 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Mai Ta, shared with permission

Saigon-based artist Mai Ta veils the subjects of her nuanced paintings with leaves, long locks of hair, splayed hands, and dim lighting. Utilizing muted tones and saturation, she works primarily in gouache to render lone women in domestic settings, creating introspective scenes that question what’s visible.  “Obscurity in my work represents my own inability to be confident about who I am,” the artist tells Colossal. “It’s easier to hide behind my hair (shadows, plants, anything) than to honestly express how I really feel.”

Many of the pieces stem from Ta’s background, although she strives to connect her experiences and the viewers’. I Set the Moon on Fire Because She Wouldn’t Wake Up, a series comprised of many of the paintings shown here, was transformative in helping her realize that “exploring my own personal narrative and emotions can be both therapeutic and visually exciting,” she says. “I made work about how my friends’ and (my) rooftop moon-watching sessions moved me. I made work about my own heartbreak. I made work about missing and loving Vietnam.”

Explore a larger collection of Ta’s paintings that examine the relationship between interior emotions and outward expressions on her site and Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)