Friday, January 30, 2009

Old Favorites Part I

Based on the contents of this blog so far, one might think I only like contemporary artists. But that's not the case, so I'm going to show some of my all time favorite artists in a new installment: Old Favorites.

First out is my absolute favorite, the constant answer to the question "what famous person would you like to meet, dead or alive", and the reason for my planned 30th birthday celebration trip to Mexico City; Frida Kahlo.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) probably does not need a closer introduction since she is famous even outside of the art world, she has even become somewhat of a cult person in recent years. She lead a stormy, unconventional life where art was the outlet for her mental and physical pain.

I first came in contact with Frida Kahlo's art in my early teens when my mom purchased a book about her. I remember not liking her art at first. I think the imagery was too intense and personal for me. It wasn't very pretty so I just didn't get it. But it wasn't long before I was totally mesmerized by both her persona and her art.

Here are some of my favorites:

What the water gave me (1938)

Tree of Hope (1946)

The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (1939)

The Two Fridas (1939)

The Little Deer (1946)

The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth, Diego, Me, and Señor Xolotl (1949)

Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940)

Self Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940)

Self Portrait Dedicated to Dr. Eloesser and daughters (1940)

Roots (1943)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kehinde Wiley

Los Angeles born New York transplant Kehinde Wiley paints the most amazing portraits in a style that is a fusion between classical and new. Black, modern hip hop men are reincarnated in poses inspired by classical portraits by Van Dyke, Hans Holbein the younger and other big names.

He has a show coming up at Roberts & Tilton in Culver City April 5th through May 9th, something I will have to go see.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lori LaMont

I saw local talent Lori LaMont's work at Long Beach Museum of Art sometime last year and was really inspired by her vibrant watercolors. Being from Europe I am used to seeing watercolor paintings that are pale and soft with a lot of the paper showing through. But LaMont paints with darker colors and completely saturates the paper. Her portraits of people are reminiscent of Modigliani in that they eyes are left unfinished with no iris or pupil. She also paints animals in a very expressive and brilliant way.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Narrowcast @ LACE

In 1986, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), a non-profit art gallery then located in Downtown Los Angeles held one of the first exhibits that truly embraced video art as a mature art form. The exhibit was called Resolutions: a Critique of Video art.

Since 1994 LACE is located on Hollywood Boulevard, but it's status as a place for new, innovative and sometimes even provocative art is the same. In the current exhibit Narrowcast: Reframing Global Video 1986/2008 we are revisited by five videos from Resolutions. These are combined with five newer videos from contemporary artists.

The oldest work in the show comes from the pioneer of video art; Bill Viola. Chott el-Djerid (1979) is a suggestive travel between the snow covered American Midwest and the Tunisian desert. The long, quiet studies of a landscape with the heat as a heavy mantel over the sand, alternatively the blinding sunlight reflected on white snow, is sometimes interrupted by a movement. A person trudging in the knee high snow, black clad people in the desert and cars that move in and out of the picture. Now and then you can hear the birds chirping or even the buzzing from a fly. It's beautiful, elusive and imaginative.

Mark Boulos piece All That is Solid Melts into Air (2008) consists of two videos that are projected across from each other. One video shows interviews with rebels from the Niger delta. They are fighting the government powers that are pillaging the lands oil resources. They sing and dance with their automatic weapons raised high above their heads, praying to the warrior God Egbisu to aid them in their fight. The other video shows agitated stock brokers that are dealing in oil bonds on the Chicago Stock Exchange. The body language, facial expressions and energy feels similar in the two films and even though there are big contrasts in the two surroundings there are similarities in the mens frenetic behaviour. The two videos create a visual circulation of necessity, greed, violence and enslavement.

It's an exciting exhibit with lots of interesting and fantastic work that chocks, amuses, and engages its audience. The 3 hours you will need in order to see all the work is truly worth it for a gaze into the history and the future of video art.

LACE can be found on 6522 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Open Wed-Sun 12PM-6PM, Fridays 12PM-9PM.
Show runs until March 1st.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cindy Wright

Belgian artist Cindy Wright creates these amazing large scale oil paintings. Most of her work is at least over 45"X45" with some canvases stretching over 78". She has a thing for flesh, human as well as animal and she paints it in perfect photo realism.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Willy Wonka Cubism

It's not surprising to find out that Ken Berman has a degree in architecture. His oil/acrylic/alkyd paintings sometimes looks like architectural blueprints and most often like complicated contraptions with hints to cubism and the industrial revolution. And yes, a little reminiscent of some fantastical machine that could be found in the chocolate factory. At least in his newer pieces, which are more depictive, his earlier work have a rather abstract feeling that reminds me more of alien cityscapes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Los Angeles Arts Month

Lots of stuff going on in Los Angeles this month, but then again it is LA Arts Month. Besides the usual busy schedule of gallery openings and museum shows there are 2 major art fairs:

takes place at Barker Hangar on 3021 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica on January 23 through 25.
Opening Night, which benefits MOCA, is Thursday 22nd 6:30 - 10:30 PM

Public Hours: Friday 23rd - Saturday 24th 11AM - 7PM
Sunday 25th 12PM - 6PM ($15 one-day pass, $25 3-day pass. For opening night tickets call 213-633-5361)

More Info Here.

LA Art Show
will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall A
1201 S. Figueroa Street running from January 21st through 25th.

Opening Night Gala Preview on Wednesday 21st 7-10:30PM ($225 advance tickets, $250 at the door)
Public Hours: Thurs 22nd through Saturday 24th 11AM - 8PM
Sunday 25th 11AM - 5PM ($20 general one-day pass, with a $5 coupon available online)

Friday, January 16, 2009

California, Seen

I went to the Long Beach Museum of Art a while back. This time not only for the delicious food at Claire's, but for the actual art. It's always a hit or miss with LBMA (hello boring clay figurines), but I have to say their current show California, Seen : Landscapes of a changing California, was a hit.

The exhibition is a collection of California landscape paintings from the 1930's through the 1970's by a wide variety of artists, the medium is mostly watercolor.

Some of my favorite pieces were three litographs by Thomas Hart Benton, watercolors by Leon Amyx, Charles Keck, Greta Lindroth, Leonard Cutrow and Dave Fox.

I especially liked the industrial depictions in Leonard Cutrow's "The Gravel Pit"

"Bean Hopper" by Charles Keck was another favorite. The colors are just amazing!

Dave Fox's "Figueroa Street Interchange" is another piece that is absolutely stunning, unfortunately I can't find an image on the internet, so you will just have to go there and see for yourself. The exhibition will run until April 5th, 2009, so no rush.

Long Beach Museum of Art: 2300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90803 (Fridays are Free!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Swedish Lowbrow

Mia Mäkilä is a Swedish lowbrow mixed medium artist. She paints her inner demons on antique photographs, creates collages with lots of nudity, fire-y farts, phallos symbols and animal/human figures. She also creates fantastic digital prints.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hilary White

Extremely talented Hilary White is blowing my mind with her intricate mixed media pieces. There's so much details, so many different layers of color and texture but it never feels too much or overdone.

I'm especially loving her "Through Wilderness" series, rather large mixed media pieces some with lights and some which even have rotating motors. She also makes some awesome installation work and copper etchings. I hope she will be showing in the LA area soon so I can see her art live.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nishiki Tayui

Japanese-American artist Nishiki Tayui does mostly ink and watercolor paintings, but also some oil paintings and wood prints. Lots of organic forms, mixed with pale colors and writing in layer upon layer. If Hokusai had been a graffiti artist without a spray can this is what his art might have looked like.

More at her website.