Warhol, Degas, Mondrian, Vermeer….Hello Kitty? Normally one of these mass consumer items wouldn’t fit in with the others on the list, but in the paintings of Alvin Richard, all these influences and images come together in charmingly arranged tableaus. The small scale acrylic paintings-rarely exceeding 12” square-offer the viewer a mash-up of pop culture and art history references. Skillfully painted in a high realism style, they feel like an extension of the artist’s own interest in the intersection of mass culture and art history.
Marie H. Sirois is a painter, photographer, musician and installation artist who has set herself a herculean project spanning the next 16 years. Her project explores the relationship between German composer Robert Schumann and his wife, virtuoso pianist Clara Wieck. While getting familiar with Schumann and Wieck’s life and compositions, she envisions an ambitious body of work that bridges painting and music. It is via four series of paintings, like a symphony in four movements, that she aspires to depict the transformation of the couple’s feelings through the important events that shaped their relationship.
The paintings from prolific artist Frank Gonzales read like a beautiful mash-up between different styles, subjects and eras in painting. The artist combines his interest for ornithology and desert flora, adding one part John James Audubon and another part contemporary abstraction to create works that play at the intersection of realism and the constructed image.
The portraits of Spanish artist Jaime Valero are an interesting example of contemporary realism that embodies the duality of simplicity and complexity. Each large-scale painting is pared down to a few basic elements seen throughout all of Jaime Valero’s work: a solitary figure typically from the shoulders up in an aquatic environment. The figures, both male and female, sometimes look out at the viewer, other times they are preoccupied with activity. While the format of each piece is minimal, it’s the painters’ acute observation of the figure that adds layers of densely packed information and visual complexity to the painting.
Olivia Kemp’s pen and ink on paper drawings are a visually dense, detailed examination of landscapes, man-made structures on the land, and the inevitability of decay of these structures as they are overtaken by nature. The drawings invite close inspection as even the most minute details of the landscape are depicted with clean precision and a sense that nothing has escaped the artist’s gaze.
For anyone that’s ever perused a vintage store and wondered about the history of each item on display, who owned it, how was it used, how it came to acquire the dents and patina from a life in service, the appeal of Christopher Stott’s paintings will be immediate. Film projectors, box cameras, clocks, manual typewriters, books and electric fans from a previous era are featured in his paintings. The mechanical objects-sometimes grouped together, often solo against a sparse white background-are painted with a careful observation that is reverential to an item that has passed its service life.
At first glance, it can be difficult to try and pin down when the paintings of Megan Ellen MacDonald may have been created-with their intensely rich colour palettes, smoky landscapes, fantastic elements, and a delicate painterly touch- these paintings feel like they belong to the era of Caspar David Friedrich and the romantic painters of the 1800’s. But that initial impression is countered by the subject which belies the contemporary sensibility of the artist: cats, unicorns and Victorian porcelain tchotchkes dominate the focus. The blending of historical and modern in the paintings of Megan Ellen MacDonald creates an ambiguous world where fantasy and realism intersect.
The paintings that Sean William Randall creates are the type of paintings that if you were standing 100 feet back from them at a gallery, you would be compelled, if not pulled in through some gravitational force to take a closer look. From a distance these paintings from Sean’s latest series wow us with their strangeness, absurdity and their sense of pure fun. Classic cars shot forth from fireballs streaking across the sky of serene landscapes; punchy reds and yellows contrasted against cool blue skies. Luckily for the viewer, these paintings are more than just pop art visuals-the work of Sean William Randall rewards the closer you get.
When reading the tag next to an artwork at a gallery, the traditional mediums are typically listed: oils, watercolours, acrylic, pencil, and the catch all, “mixed media”. “Tape”, is not something you would expect to see. In Emanuel Pavao’s urban landscape art, tape is exactly what these realist artworks are composed of. Frustrated with traditional materials, Emanuel started to use this utilitarian household material, with its surprising array of colours and textures, to create realistic portrayals of the urban fabric.
The paintings of Eloy Morales- large-scale hyperrealistic portraits- are astounding feats of technical skill with an immediate and intense visual impact. While other artists working in hyperrealism may be content to have the technical skill be the overriding concern, these paintings hold the attention with a psychological weight imbued in the subject, often the artist’s own face.