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Art

Set Against a Backdrop of World Events, Tim Okamura’s Bold Portraits Emanate Commanding Energy

July 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Fire Fighter” (2021), oil on canvas, 60 x 76 inches

Marked with visible brushstrokes and drips of paint, the portraits of  Tim Okamura (previously) blend realistic portrayals of his subjects with the fervent, unrestrained qualities of street art. The Japanese-Canadian artist, who recently moved his studio from Brooklyn to Queens, centers his practice around storytelling and honing in on the distinctive energies of those he paints.

Much of Okamura’s portraiture develops in series, whether as the Healthcare Heroes collection devoted to the nurses and doctors working tirelessly throughout the pandemic or the commanding figures of the ongoing Women Warriors—many of these works will be on view as a solo exhibition in September of 2023 at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Rendered primarily in oil with the occasional acrylic or spray paint addition, the pieces capture the raw nature of Okamura’s process and the distinctive, powerful presence of his subjects.

If you’re in Los Angeles, visit the Academy Museum to view the artist’s portrait of the late writer Toni Morrison. Otherwise, find more of his paintings on his site and Instagram, and browse limited-edition prints in his shop.

 

Toni Morrison circa 1993

“Nurse Tracy” (2021), oil on linen, 40 x 60 inches

“Blood, Sweat, and Tears (Portrait of the Artist Marc Andre)” (2022), oil on linen, 32 x 26 inches

“Rites of Spring” (2021), oil on canvas, 64 x 64 inches

“Rich Medina” (2022), oil on wood panel, 24 x 24 inches

“Luminescence” (2022), oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

 

 



Art Food

Vivid Oil Paintings by Kristof Santy Present Humble Meals as Bold Gastronomic Decadence

July 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Bloemen en kaas” (2022), oil on canvas, 160 x 140 centimeters. All images © Kristof Santy, courtesy of Unit London, shared with permission

Referencing Marco Ferreri’s mordant 1970s satire by the same name, La Grande Bouffe, or The Big Feast, saturates the simple foods found in pantries and fridges with unexpected grandeur. The solo exhibition on view at Unit London showcases vivid paintings by Belgian artist Kristof Santy that transform humble fare like a cheddar wedge or slice of watermelon into bright, gastronomic celebrations.

Often positioned against textured tile backdrops or striped wallpaper, the oil-based works tend to be either devoid of human life or portray figures in rigid stasis: a butcher stiffly lifts a broom in the shop doorway, a finger peels back a tin of fish with precision, and pans filled with sausages and other meats fry on a stovetop unsupervised. Rendered with Santy’s signature flatness, the tableaus highlight the sometimes unnoticed and yet sumptuous qualities of everyday food.

La Grande Bouffe is on view through August 6, and you can find an archive of the artist’s decadent works on his site and Instagram.

 

“Fornuis,” oil on canvas, 140 x 160 centimeters

“Fruitmand,” oil on canvas, 140 x 160 centimeters

“Frietpot” (2022), oil on canvas, 170 x 180 centimeters

“Vismarkt,” oil on canvas, 240 x 200 centimeters

“Beenhouwerij” (2022), oil on canvas, 200 x 240 centimeters

“Sardienen met kerstomaten,” oil on canvas, 180 x 180 centimeters

 

 



Art

A New Collection of Works by Collin van der Sluijs Channels a Dreamlike Collision of Emotion

July 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Collin van der Sluijs, courtesy of Vertical Gallery, shared with permission

In one of his most ambitious bodies of work to date, artist Collin van der Sluijs (previously) references two forces being incidentally forced together. “These strange times have caused a collision between me as a person and my work,” he shares, “I want to be free and not a puppet on strings directed by anybody.”

This sentiment pervades the Dutch artist’s latest collection opening this week at both Vertical Gallery and Vertical Project Space in Chicago. Aptly titled Collision, the solo show is broad in medium and subject matter, containing 15 canvas paintings, 12 on panel, and more than 50 works on paper. Similar to his earlier pieces, this collection harnesses van der Sluijs’s signature dreamlike style, whether through depictions of nature’s most ethereal qualities or frenzied mishmashes of brushstrokes and smaller, more realistic elements. The works include emotionally chaotic portraits, serene renderings of singular birds, and dense landscapes in which life and death converge.

Collision runs from July 9 to 30. While in Chicago, van der Sluijs will also create a few murals, which you can follow on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art History

A Previously Unseen Collection of ‘How to Draw’ Books Picasso Made for His Daughter Are On View in Paris

June 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

Pablo Picasso, “Maya at the boat” (Paris, 5 February 1938). Image © Yageo Foundation Collection, Taïwan, and Succession Picasso 2022. All images shared with permission

Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s eldest daughter with Marie-Thérèse Walter, used to join her father in the kitchen of their apartment to draw together. They filled multiple sketchbooks with playful renderings of animals, fruit, and clowns, and the Spanish artist even created a special book devoted to instructing Maya on how to paint.

These lovingly collaborative works are on view for the first time at The Picasso Museum in Paris after Maya’s daughter, Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso, discovered the collection of drawings while sorting through storage. When she showed them to her mother, Maya remembered creating the sketches during WWII when colored pencils and paper were difficult to come by. Diana said in an interview:

There’s a beautiful page where he’s drawing a bowl and she’s drawing a bowl. Sometimes she’s making an image and he’s doing another, showing her the right way to do it. Sometimes they would depict different scenes. Other times, he would draw a dog or a hat. Sometimes he’s using the whole page to draw one particular thing. Other times, he’s depicting certain scenes, scenes of the circus.

Alongside the sketchbooks, the exhibition features nine of the artist’s major works, photographs, and various ephemera, including origami sculptures he folded for Maya from exhibition invitations. Diana also noted that Picasso’s father, who was an art professor, taught him to draw “so that was something natural for him to do.”

Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Daughter Of Pablo is on view through December 31.

 

Pablo Picasso, Letter to Maya “! ​​My beloved daughter – MARIA…!”, Golfe-Juan, (August 27, 1946), private collection. Image © Succession Picasso 2022

Pablo Picasso, “Bird” (1947-1948), private collection. Image © Succession Picasso 2022

Pablo Picasso and Maya Ruiz-Picasso, apples, undated, private collection. Image © Succession Picasso 2022

Pablo Picasso, “Maya with doll and horse” (Paris, 1938), private collection. Image © Succession Picasso 2022

Edward Quinn, Picasso and Maya, Golfe-Juan, 1953-1954. Photo © Edward Quinn, Succession Picasso 2022

 

 



Art

Otherworldly Vistas and Noble Portraits Celebrate Life’s Mysteries in Sherman Beck’s Vibrant Paintings

June 6, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Portrait of Shirley Chisholm” (2022). All images © Sherman Beck, courtesy of Kavi Gupta and shared with permission

One of the original ten members of the groundbreaking Chicago-based artist collective AFRICOBRA founded in 1968, Sherman Beck paints vibrant portrayals of Black family, ancestry, and community that celebrate the wonder and mysticism of everyday life. In a retrospective at Kavi Gupta, paintings made during the past five decades explore themes of cultural identity, multidimensional time and space, and the origins of life.

In Ancestors, a series of untitled works from the 1990s, Beck juxtaposes traditional African masks, labeled as if in a museum display, alongside contemporary Black faces. He challenges the viewer’s perception of reality and the imagination, combining realistic characteristics with vividly patterned backgrounds or portraying visages in bold geometric abstraction. The subjects of his portraits, which include historical figures such as Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, or Frederick Douglass, the national abolitionist leader and social reformer, always gaze directly at the viewer.

Through symbolic motifs such as winding paths, all-seeing eyes, and contrasts between light and dark, Beck explores continuity across time periods and the human desire to understand how and why we exist. He questions the nature of revealing and concealing, oscillating between representational portraits, bold abstraction, and otherworldly interiors and landscapes that open up into enigmatic cosmic vistas.

Beck’s retrospective continues at Kavi Gupta in Chicago through July 30.

 

“Ancestors” (c. 1990)

“Ancestors” (2005)

“Time” (2022)

“The Boat” (2012)

“Eyes” (2022)

“Immersed” (2022)

“Sunrise/Sunset” (2012/2017)

“Untitled” (2022)

 

 

 



Art

Nature and Nostalgia Merge in Assemblages Made from Vintage Boxes by David Cass

June 1, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © David Cass, shared with permission

In the multi-media works of Athens-based artist David Cass, memories and tokens of bygone eras are assembled into compositions that evoke both nostalgia for the past and serve as a reminder of fluctuations in nature due to a changing climate. Cass collects a variety of items like old letters from flea markets, matchboxes, and tins, especially those associated with safekeeping. In some pieces, he accumulates small boxes into larger vessels like cabinet drawers, while in others, the item itself serves as the canvas for original paintings responding to the surface.

An ongoing theme in Cass’ practice is the way attitudes toward nature have shifted in recent generations, describing in a profile about his creative process that “ours is the first epoch in which the natural world has been seen as a problem, as itself in danger.” A recent exhibition called Where Once the Waters, which comprised dozens of tiny painted tins and was shown during the Venice Biennale, focused on a shifting horizon line. Water plays a central role in the connections he draws between past and present, highlighting the changeable nature of the sea and how oceans are rising around the world. A motif of flowing lines signifying the movement of the liquid appears in many of his works, responding to the texture, scale, and patina of each unique object.

You can find more of Cass’ work on his website and on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)