I really should have paid more attention in art history at uni. The work of Nicolas de Staël undoubtedly came up on the screen in that over-heated lecture theatre, so I’m kicking myself that I’m only ‘discovering’ him now. Born in Russia, de Staël painted in France from the late 1930s through to his death in 1955. The story goes that he was suffering from exhaustion (he produced over a thousand paintings in a fifteen year period), insomnia and depression and, seeking isolation, had moved with his family to the south of France. After a negative encounter with an art critic he took his own life by jumping from his studio terrace.
Andrea Belag’s paintings are remarkably simple, yet utterly compelling. It’s easy to can see how the New York-based painter creates her works, brushing big, confident strokes of oil onto linen, then brushing and scraping back through through them. The whole process might only take a few minutes, but the effect is incredible. The concentric marks made by her big, sweeping strokes gives the paintings a real depth – looking at them, you feel as though you’re peering into a vast, cavernous space. I’d love to see these in the flesh.
With a million colours available to artists and designers at the click of a mouse, black is often overlooked as a legitimate ‘colour’. It is instead seen as an absence of colour, taken for granted and often regarded as the default setting. But this is not the case with Polish artist Marta Orzel. Her acrylics feature black silhouettes and mountain ranges that contrast beautifully with the other colours on her palette.
Amy Woodside is a poet who knows how to hold a paintbrush. The New York based Kiwi works with words and phrases, breaking them down into individual letters and then forcing them back together like a kid playing with a complex jigsaw puzzle. She paints these graphic arrangements in gouache and acrylic, rendering them in bright colour and pitting them against high-contrast textured backgrounds, or against flat white. This is really nice stuff. Her website is beautiful as well, with gorgeous typography and lots of soft pastels.
I have a feeling I wrote a post about Jonas Wood on a previous iteration of To Everybody, but that’s okay – his work is so great it’s worth repeating. Wood’s paintings are like awkward pencil sketches brought to life. He paints predominantly still scenes – arrangements of potted plants, portraits, sports collector cards – in big bright areas of flat colour, often made up of heaps of thin, straight paint strokes. It’s a very graphical style of painting, and the result is not dissimilar to something you’d get with a box of Copic markers, except Wood is doing it with oils and acrylics which makes it much more impressive. Pattern and repetition feature heavily, often in an overtly hand-rendered, almost indigenous style. Really great stuff. Check back in another six months and I’ll probably post another dozen of his paintings!
I love screen printing. There’s a quality you get from it that digital printing will never be able to touch – the ink or paint you use is a real, tactile thing, and often gives you wonderfully unpredictable results that you couldn’t reproduce of you tried. French duo Atelier Bingo have nailed the process, as you can see from their catalogue of prints, and the work they’ve done for various bands and magazines. With a nice selection of bright colours and slices of sketchy, photocopied looking patterns they produce abstract collages that would look good just about anywhere.
The painting above, by London-based artist Jonathan Kelly, could be any number of things. I choose to see it as a Batman mask, or an overweight black cat, sitting on an orange floor rug next to a futon. I’d say there’s a very good chance I’m completely wrong with this, but who cares – it looks nice, the colour palette is a ripper, and whatever it is, it has a nice composition. Kelly’s paintings range from this sort of thing, with muted, aged hues and free strokes, to more recent rigid, graphical and overly colourful pieces (which aren’t really my bag). I absolutely love this stuff though. More examples over the fold.
My inner geek comes out when I see this kind of stuff. These are satellite images taken by the European Space Agency and posted on the Earth Observation Image of the Week page on their website. Satellite imagery is nothing new or particularly exciting these days, what with Google Maps sitting in everyone’s pocket, but the way these images have been treated gives them an edge. Land mass and vegetation is recoloured to highlight features of the images – even though it’s done with non-artistic intent, the results are some of the most amazing patterns, textures and colour schemes I’ve ever seen. The image above is of the Namib Desert in Africa – the blue bit is actually a dry river bed (look closely and you can see a road running through it).
The homepage of Sasha Pichushkin’s website states, simply, “Abstract painter, 26, Russia”. Clicking on the ‘About’ link, he elaborates: “My name is Sasha, i’m an abstract painter and i live in Russia”. He’s right – what else do we need to know? This guy does really nice, simple paintings, often in clumps of scratchy brushstrokes and featuring a restricted colour palette. The pieces are quite graphical – it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he turned out to be a graphic designer or something. Really nice stuff.
I don’t know many house painters that use a palette like this. ‘House painter’ was the title of a 2012 exhibition by Andy Cross, part of which included a very basic house-like structure created from the artist’s paintings (and which he ‘occupied’ for the duration of the exhibition). The piece above, Matt’s Cabin, was hung on the wall beside the house. I really like the bright greens, yellows and blues in this painting. It looks like one of the hyper-saturated illustrations you might find in a Little Golden Book.