Over the past decade, Olympic poster artwork has taken a turn from macho, athletic scenes to pieces of veritable contemporary art. This year, acclaimed artists like Tracy Emin, Anthea Hamilton and Michael Craig-Martin were commissioned to create pieces for the London 2012 Olympics. With this in mind, we found the timing of the Olympic games with our current show “The New Real” featuring Eric Zener’s swimming paintings to be absolutely impeccable. It certainly seems as if his painting “Moving Through” captures the grace and power of an Olympic swimmer. The size and perspective of the painting even make if feel as if you’re getting a special underwater view of an Olympian’s first powerful dive into the pool. If you couldn’t make it to London, Zener beautifully captures the essence of swimmers in his two paintings on display here. Come check them out while they’re still up!
Month: July 2012
Gallery Director Sarah Wilson recently went on an art scouting trip to the Huntsville Museum of Art to view the exhibition The Red Clay Survey: 2012 Exhibition of Contemporary Southern Art. On view until September 16th, The Red Clay Survey is a recurring juried exhibition open to artists in 11 Southern states that seeks to “recognize and encourage excellence” in artwork and to “provide a permanent record of the development of regional art.” The 80 works on display this year encompass a wide range of styles and media by over 61 different artists, all chosen by jurors Janet Monafo and Paul Rahilly through a two-stage evaluation process.
Photographer Jose Betancourt, who will be exhibiting his work with Susan Weil at the Tinney Contemporary next month has a piece in the show, and Sarah also discovered a few new names that you’ll want to keep your eye on. Artist Carl Gombert’s stamped “Geometrics” are absolutely entrancing, while his realist paintings and drawings seek to capture the expressions of the human face much in a way that brings to mind the work of Ali Cavanaugh. Atlanta-based John Sumner’s expressive photographs capture peeks into the lives of those living in his homeland of the American South in a way that only an “insider” could, evoking a certain sense of timelessness.
Another standout was artist Kath Girdler Engler, the child of a veteran antique dealer who finds unique ways to combine unconventional materials into beautiful pieces of art, using “old, broken, discarded items” as an important part of her sculptures. Many of Kath’s pieces are heavily themed with the relationship between mother and child and are influenced by “serene Cycladic forms” and Greek mythology.
The exhibition is a fantastic way to gain exposure to many Southern artists on the rise, and we encourage you to make a trip before it closes on September 16th! If you’ve already been to the show, who were your favorite artists or pieces?
- In Paris, photographer Alban Grosdidier’s crisp black and white portraits of subjects submerged underwater bring to mind Eric Zener’s own bubbly underwater diving paintings. Check out Grosdidier’s photographs here, which seek to express “the feelings of submersion that you can have living in a big city.”
- Private, online-only art exhibitions? New websites like bubblebyte.org seek to “mimic the setup of a physical space” with temporary online shows, while museums like the London Institute of Contemporary Art are getting creative with the web and sound works to reach their audience while being forced to close during the Olympics. Read at the Guardian.
Can the popularity of a piece of art be explained neurologically? That’s what the newest studies behind “neuroaesthetics” are trying to determine – if there’s a scientific explanation for the way that we respond to art. Though styles like Impressionism have always proved to be traditionally popular, more abstract styles of art by artists like Pollock, Rothko and Mondrian usually tend to be more difficult for the general public to interpret. However, though canvases seemingly haphazardly splattered with paint on the floor or “rigorously geometrical, primary coloured compositions” may not be traditional, easy to read narratives, several studies have shown that our brains are actually attracted and stimulated by many aspects of these non-traditional images. Our brain naturally tends to try to “solve” images, and well-balanced compositions like those of Rothko or Mondrian actually “appeal to the brain’s visual system”.
Perhaps our brain feels a sense of peace when looking at Mondrian’s gridlike compositions or Rothko’s appealing blocks of color, and maybe these aesthetically simpler pieces are just easier for a given museum-goer to appreciate it. You don’t have to be knowledgeable of a complex historical background or be able to identify religious figures in order to see these paintings for what they are.
Though viewers may not even be aware, it seems that they are still able to sense the intention behind these abstract paintings. The studies also suggest that the dynamism of works such as Pollock’s action paintings can be felt so strongly because “the brain reconstructs the energetic movements the artist used as he painted.”
Thus, though these works clearly don’t have easily determined interpretations, it seems that we’re actually naturally drawn to them. We all have our own (perhaps unknown) reasons for our impulsive attractions to certain paintings, and I find that non-representational paintings can sometimes make much more of an impact. Rothko and Pollock certainly bring to mind contemporary artwork like Martica Griffin’s paintings in which colors seem to flow into one another, and Hyunmee Lee’s abstract, gestural paintings. Since these works have no defining, easily readable narrative, we can each make of them what we like for ourselves, one of greatest characteristics of this type of art.
Coming from Nashville, Tennessee, artist Brian Tull uses both oil and acrylic paint to create photorealistic images that embody a tone of wistfulness, nostalgia, and ease through allegory. In building his large portfolio, Tull has made commissioned paintings as well as works for the public such as the Rockabilly Highway Mural in Selmer, TN, Gibson Guitartown that is installed outside of the ASCAP building in Nashville, and many others.
As a self-taught artist, he has a technical sophistication that is so impressive and alluring it’s hard to not look at the work and wonder how someone could possibly create such an image by hand. Tull’s work combines his fascination of a bygone era, a time that he believes to have been“…simple, more genuine and honest,” with his truly sensational ability to render the real world.
Through mastering the technique involved in realism, Tull creates paintings that immediately cause the viewer to piece together a story upon seeing the work. All of his images—from the work for the public to the commissioned family portraits to the intriguing depictions of domesticity and industrial objects—reflect Tull’s great fascination with the past and storytelling.
If artist Ali Cavanaugh’s vivid “neo fresco seccos” caught your eye at last Saturday’s art crawl, you can learn more about her unique artistic process and subjects in the short ten-minute film “Ali’s World”. The film visits Ali at her home in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri where she explains the process and inspiration of her paintings, revealing such details as the fact that she sometimes uses up to fifty layers of color to recreate the exact skintone of her models. Viewers are welcomed into Ali’s basement studio and backyard, where they can witness the entire process from photographing her models to attaching the final wire hanging. The film aptly captures Ali’s desire to portray both “the body and soul” of the human figure and to “exemplify the human condition” through the lens of her art.
Enter “Ali’s World” and learn more about the personal meaning behind several of her projects by watching the video below.
Though we may have felt impressed with ourselves when our first foray into “fine art” was hanging a poster of a famous sunrise on our dorm room wall, these thin, mass-produced posters get rolled up and crumpled, we move into places with non-communal bathrooms, and eventually it’s time to move onto something a little more sophisticated. Chrissy Crawford and Grace Greenstone of ArtStar, a contemporary print website, give some great tips about beginning the process of building an art collection for our own homes.
The first thing they recommend is to start slowly and inexpensively. Experiment with hanging a few things you like, and play around with it. Websites like Etsy are a great first step, and an easy way to find original, inexpensive prints and paintings that are done by real artists, rather than by a manufacturer. One of the points that they strongly emphasize is to “avoid garage sales and antique stores and support living artists directly who make an artist fee on each print sold.” Try to buy limited editions, which will not only retain their value, but also ensure that it’s unlikely that your neighbors will have the same piece.
They also strongly suggest buying framed art. A simple frame can make all the difference on a print or painting, adding a touch of polish to the work and also the environment that you display it in.
Lastly, learn about the art that you buy! Familiarize yourself and connect with artists that you like, and make visits to their studio or to the galleries that display their work. To read the rest of their tips, click here.
Does realism today, in a digital age saturated with photographic images, imply that the work is in dialogue with photography? The current exhibition at Tinney Contemporary, “The New Real,” curated by gallery director Sarah Wilson, is a group show of various artists working within the realm of realism. Some of the work in the show is more photorealistic than the rest, yet all of the paintings and drawings are depicting real subjects with little to no excessive abstraction. Although as descriptive as a photograph, when one approaches each piece it becomes clear that a machine did not make the work. There are nuances and subtleties that make the artists’ hands in the work evident.
Eric Zener, one of the painters in the show, makes work that is highly realistic and from a far it is not certain to the viewer whether or not the image is a photograph or a painting. When one moves closer to the painting and looks at it intimately, it is apparent that the image was painted. Perhaps this is an important part of realism: to question whether a realistic image created by a person is more accurate or honest—because it is an artist’s attempt to capture a moment—than an objective camera lens.
Is it not fascinating to realize that a human can have the control is takes to create an image that feels photographic? The pieces are even more impressive when viewing them in real life because one can see all of the fine distinctions and the skill involved in creating such works.