Art Talk: New Fascinations

As promised, here is the second installment in the “New Fascinations” world of Art Talk. This week includes two comic-type illustrators, a man who used his time in jail to create large-scale work and a visual re-interpretation of the Seven Deadly Sins.

1. Sally Nixon

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 11.39.47 AM.pngIllustrator Sally Nixon loves drawing women and food. And I love her for it. I came across an article about Nixon that showcased the truthful way the artist portrays the raw form of women and their true relationship with food and each other, when no one is looking. The artist’s style is extremely detailed, as she constantly involves texture and patterns in each of her small pieces. Whether it’s the tightly woven patterns of a rug, or simply the grain of the wooden walls, each stroke is meticulously placed to give a sense of stark reality to each tiny scene. All of her subjects are unashamedly eating whatever they want, be it donuts or cheese puffs in bed, and she shows these women in true, unidealized ways to give them even more authenticity. I can see myself in each one of these women and each piece is just pleasant to look at. It’s like being a fly on the wall or a pet watching your person go about your day in their unmasked, honest form. I can’t say enough good things about Nixon’s work and I hope she will release more prints in her Etsy shop soon. While I enjoy each tiny scene, my favorites are definitely “Beth” and “Saturday Afternoon,” both of which I just ordered. See more of Nixon’s work at sally-nixon.squarespace.com.

2. Cassandra Calin

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Yet another awesome woman artist drawing women in their true, honest forms. I can’t get enough of work by artists like Calin and Nixon, especially because they are producing an alternative, unidealized image of women while simultaneously encouraging us to embrace our true selves and not conform or assimilate to the images we see in mass media every day. Calin’s black-and-white comics of women navigating the various truths and hurdles of female life are wonderful and hilarious. Almost comic I see, I mentally say, “That’s totally me.” Her comics are so honest without being dark or negative and definitely make one feel that they’re not alone in what they do or how they feel about things like dating, beauty routines, body image and more. I can’t get enough of Calin’s wonderful drawings and am now an avid follower on Instagram. See more of Calin’s work at cassandracalin.com.

3. Conor Harrington

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I first learned about Conor Harrington through an article about his upcoming London show entitled, “Watch Your Palace Fall.” The Irish painter is known for his unique combination of sharp, realistic figures and surrounding expressive brushstrokes. Harrington has worked both in traditional painting and murals that feature Renaissance-inspired style, composition and, often subject matter. The figures are beautifully rendered and are often engaged in expressive movements, often fist or sword fighting, that help compliment the more expressive painting reminiscent of other graffiti artists and muralists. The combination gives the paintings an ethereal sense of transience to me, as figures’ clothing and bodies are often blurred so that they almost look as if they are fading away. His painterly skill is only amplified by the blasts of color and abstraction. My favorite by far is a mural in Norway of two men engaged in a sword fight on a yellow wall. The black cloud of paint almost suggests the scene is a peek through a time portal. See more of Harrington’s work at www.conorharrington.com.

4. Jesse Krimes

This video of Krimes talking about his experience and work is really all you need to know about how and why he is important. There’s really nothing more I can say about his work other than that Krimes’ persistence in creating when faced with such a stifling situation, is fascinating. See more of Krimes’ work at www.jessekrimes.com.

5. Amy Hill

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Hill is one of those unique artists who employs historical style to make statements about contemporary society. The artist says she identifies with Northern Renaissance and Flemish painters such as Rembrandt, which can be seen in her series Bikers, in which Hill takes the idea of the indulgent and flamboyant portraits of the rich and replaces the subjects with the unique styles and implied danger of motorcyclists. I think this idea is brilliant, especially when the dramatic lighting casts over the range of different characters who all identify as bikers. On of her most recent projects is Seven Deadly Sins, in which Hill parodies early Flemish triptych that was designed to be a cautionary tale against lust and vanity to ensure divine salvation. In her series, Hill relates the contemporary deadly sins by showing the subject in contemporary dress acting out “sins” including “Workoholism,” “Apathy” and  “Paranoia.” These new sins, I feel, are so accurate to our contemporary society and provide a powerful message to live a more authentic life free from complete consumerism and distraction and vanity. See more of Hill’s work at www.amyhillpaintings.com.

Who are your favorite contemporary artists? How have they changed your view of a certain medium or style? How do you discover new art? Let’s talk.

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