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Art

Diverse Ecosystems Merge in Hyperrealistic Paintings of Flora and Fauna by Lisa Ericson

November 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a deer standing on a reef of coral.

“High Tide” (2022), acrylic on panel. All images © Lisa Ericson, shared with permission

Ecosystems intermingle and mammals find themselves immersed in an increasingly watery world in Lisa Ericson’s hyperrealistic acrylic paintings. A hare and a mountain goat, which would typically be found in dry climates or high elevations, stand atop a small island of cacti or rock in an ongoing series of works that view the climate crisis—especially the impending rise of sea levels—through a lens of magical realism.

Drawing on the artistic legacy of chiaroscuro, or contrast between the bright figures and deep background, Ericson’s compositions appear as if a spotlight has been directed on the scene to highlight unusual interactions, such as a fox ferrying bluebirds across a waterway or a mountain goat stranded on a submerged rocky peak. Furthering the notion that environmental change cannot be ignored, the titles speak to witnessing immense change, experiencing a sense of foreboding, and heeding warnings.

You can see some of Ericson’s recent works on view at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, through November 20, and find more on her website and Instagram.

 

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a fox wading through water with numerous bluebirds on its back.

“Risky Business” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a hare and a bird on top of a cactus, which surfaces from the water.

“Late Warning” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a mountain goat standing half-submerged in water on top of a rock with fish at its feet.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson featuring a fish with fins that look like coral and two other fish.

“Shelter in Place” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a fox with moss and fungi growing on its back.

“Wake Me When It’s Over” (2020), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a red squirrel on top of a turtle's back.

“Treading Water” (2022), acrylic on panel

 

 

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Art

A Major Exhibition and Monograph, Amy Sherald’s ‘The World We Make’ Shapes a Hopeful Future Through Monumental Portraiture

October 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

“For love, and for country” (2022), oil on linen, 123 x 93 x 2 1/2 inches. All images © Amy Sherald, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

In her first major exhibition outside of the U.S., artist Amy Sherald (previously) presents a body of work that’s distinctly American. The World We Make, which is now on view, brings Sherald’s signature grisaille portraiture to Hauser & Wirth London. Monumental in scale and primarily rendered on flat, monochromatic backdrops, the oil paintings reference a sense of determined optimism to shape reality. “The works reflect a desire to record life as I see it and as I feel it. My eyes search for people who are and who have the kind of light that provides the present and the future with hope,” the artist says.

Included in the exhibition is a strikingly subversive interpretation of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s black-and-white photo “V-J Day in Times Square,” which shows a Navy sailor dipping and kissing a woman following Japan’s surrender in WWII. In Sherald’s “For love, and for country,” two men dressed in mariner garb embrace in a similar pose, subverting the iconic image of U.S. victory, while illuminating the inequities that Black, gay men in the military face still today.

Questions of masculinity and American identity pervade the show, particularly in works like “A God Blessed Land (Empire of Dirt),” which positions an overall-clad farmer atop a John Deere tractor. This agricultural equipment echoes the themes of freedom and movement in Sherald’s “Deliverance” diptych that features two figures balancing on their dirt bikes as they perilously soar mid-air. “The tractor and motorbike paintings explore different expressions of self-sovereignty in our communities and how these expressions might carry into the future. Vehicles become a literal metaphor here for forward momentum, for movement, and potential movement,” Sherald says.

Hauser & Wirth Publishers has released the artist’s first comprehensive monograph to coincide with The World We Make, which you can see through December 23. Find more from Sherald on Instagram.

 

“To tell her story you must walk in her shoes” (2022), oil on linen, 54 x 43 x 2 1/2 inches

“A God Blessed Land (Empire of Dirt)” (2020), oil on linen, 96 x 130 x 2 1/2 inches

“Deliverance” (2020), oil on linen, 108 x 124 x 2 1/2 inches

“Deliverance” (2020), oil on linen, 108 x 124 x 2 1/2 inches

“Kingdom” (2022), oil on linen, 117 x 92 x 2 1/2 inches

“As soft as she is…” (2022) oil on linen, 54 x 43 x 2 1/2 inches

 

 



Art

Vintage Cameras Focus on the Surveillance of Modern Life in Jeff Bartels’s Uncanny Paintings

October 5, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Surveillance Speed Graphic” (2021), oil on linen, 30 x 30 inches. All images © Jeff Bartels, shared with permission

“I’m not sure it’s possible to walk down a city street these days and not be caught on a camera somewhere, either by choice or not even knowing about it.” This idea grounds Surveillance, a series of uncanny paintings in oil by Canadian artist Jeff Bartels. Situated in urban settings with a distinctly retro flair, the works nestle vintage cameras among architecture and infrastructural elements. Oversized lenses, knobs, and levers echo the shapes of windows and doorways with branding imitating signs for shops and restaurants.

Sandwiching the devices between cafes and storefronts or subway stairs, Bartels explores the ubiquity of cameras and how they’re embedded into modern life. “If you look at the people in the paintings, none of them are doing anything particularly noteworthy or interesting. They are all just living their lives in front of a camera, some by choice, some oblivious to that fact,” he shares, noting that the surreal scenes aren’t intended to be altogether sinister. Privacy concerns aside, the paintings also speak to the increased prevalence of photographs and the ability to document and share even the most mundane moments on social media.

In addition to the cameras that feature heavily in Surveillance, the Toronto-based artist has placed other technologies like cassette tapes and stereos among his street-side scenes. See some of those works below, and find more on Instagram.

 

“Surveillance Target Six-16” (2021), oil on linen, 22 x 14 inches

“Surveillance Yashica” (2021), oil on linen, 24 x 20 inches

“Surveillance Rolleiflex” (2021), oil on linen, 24 x 30 inches

“Surveillance Electric Eye” (2021), oil on linen, 30 x 20 inches

“Surveillance C16” (2022), oil on linen, 24 x 20 inches

In reference to the song “Grace, Too” by The Tragically Hip

“Post and Truth” (2021), oil on linen, 30 x 40 inches

 

 



Art History Illustration

A 500-Page Book Explores the Japanese Folkloric Tradition of the Supernatural ‘Yōkai’ Entities

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of PIE International, shared with permission

Translating to “strange apparition,” the Japanese word yōkai refers to supernatural beings, mutant monsters, and spirits. Mischievous, generous, and sometimes vengeful, the creatures are rooted in folklore and experienced a boom during the Edo period when artists would ascribe inexplicable phenomena to the unearthly characters. Japan’s Miyoshi Mononoke Museum in the Hiroshima Prefecture houses the largest yōkai collection in the world with more than 5,000 works, and a book recently published by PIE International showcases 60 of the most iconic and bizarre pieces from the institution.

Encompassing a range of mediums from painted scrolls and nishiki-e woodblock prints to kimonos and metalworks, Yōkai is a massive volume of 500-plus pages of colorful illustrations, paired with text by author, collector, and curator Koichi Yumoto. The book reproduces rarely seen works by artists like the renowned ukiyo-e printmaker Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, showcasing the pieces in incredible detail and contextualizing their role in the broader tradition and art history.

Yōkai is currently available on Bookshop.

 

 

 



Art

In ‘The Boy Who Wanted to Fly,’ Sentrock Imagines the Origin of His Signature Bird Character

September 26, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photo by Steven Koch

Wander through Chicago’s streets, and you’re bound to encounter one of Sentrock’s signature bird characters (previously). Disguised in a red mask with big eyes and round, pink cheeks, the boy is curious, imaginative, and playful, often seen interacting with animals, daydreaming, or riding a bike. The fictional figure is also the artist’s expression of strength and hope, particularly as it relates to his own childhood in the Mexican-American community of the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.

An ongoing exhibition at Elmhurst Art Museum celebrates the character and his lineage through sculptures, installations, paintings, and murals. Drawing on Sentrock’s background in street art and graffiti, The Boy Who Wanted to Fly spreads several narratives across the galleries. A massive, ten-foot sculpture lounges on artificial turf, and smaller, colorful paintings help compose the figure’s origin story. At the center of one gallery is a child-sized birdhouse cloaked in the artist’s stylized renderings, with vibrant works on paper taped to the inside walls. Interactive lightswitches transform the interior into a vividly colorful playhouse. A final gallery culminates in a wall-sized animation that brings Sentrock’s work to life for the first time, and as a whole, the collection is an homage to Sentrock’s upbringing and “a gesture of compassion for his community.”

The Boy Who Wanted to Fly is on view through January 15, 2023. Follow the artist’s work and news about future limited-edition prints and sculptures—keep an eye out for a special merch release in the Elmhurst gift shop in early December—on Instagram.

 

Photo by Steven Koch

Photo by Steven Koch

Photos by John McKinnon

Photo by Christopher Jobson

Photo by Steven Koch

Photo by Steven Koch

Photo by Steven Koch

Photo by Steven Koch

 

 



Art Documentary History

‘Beyond the Visible,’ a Documentary Illuminating the Life and Work of Hilma af Klint, Is Free to Stream

September 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

Released in 2020, an acclaimed documentary serves as a corrective to the art historical record. Beyond the Visible spotlights the life and work of the pioneering Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), an obscure figure during her lifetime whose colorful abstract works predate those of famed male artists like Vasily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Directed by Halina Dyrschka, the feature-length documentary centers on af Klint’s groundbreaking practice and the spiritual, scientific, and natural phenomena that inspired her work.

Beyond the Visible is currently available to stream for free on Kino Lorber’s YouTube, which is a trove of art history and culture. To learn more about af Klint’s legacy and view her expansive oeuvre, pick up The Complete Catalogue Raisonné: Volumes I-VII. (via Open Culture)