Portland artist Ian Michael Anderson's latest collection of gouache paintings contrast earth tones and light pink hues with symbolic imagery, to powerful and striking visual effect. In Anderson's own words, his paintings aim to address chaos and conflicts in life as well as order, to help him gain insight into their distinct natures. He explains by saying, "... Dualistic narratives take shape [and] opposing forces are typically revealed: Life and death, good and evil, man and beast, predator and prey, war and peace. These dreamlike and often nightmarish fables reflect an outward and subconscious view of man and his destructive role in this world. Through this lens, my own place in these mostly impossible scenarios can be triangulated, and I am on my way to resolving the confrontation and understanding the need for such destruction." You can see these pieces in person on First Thursday, May 3rd, at Backspace Gallery and Cafe (115 NW 5th Ave) in Portland, and read a brief Q&A with Anderson below.

 

With variation in degrees of shading and texture, the black and white watercolor and graphite pieces by Ottawa's Nimit Malavia seem to be caught in varying degrees of completion. The epic 26 Point Stag, above, seems like a page out of Greek mythology or a fantasy novel, while Arranged, below, bleeds and combines geometries like a page out of a manga or graphic novel. These pieces are showing now at Spoke Art (816 Sutter Street, San Francisco), through April 28th, 2012. See more colorful and poetically romantic images, such as the ones on the bottom of this post, on her website, along with more black and white whimsies.

 

UK musicians Amplifier are offering an insane limited edition treatment for their album, The Octopus, complete with silver cover made of KEVLAR, an animation, and a three-disc box set. Limited to 750 copies, below is a sampling of some associated graphics, created by artist Goni Montes. Watch as a male character gets swallowed up in a burst, an infinity symbol, and an octopus -- which, as a spirit animal, traditionally symbolizes the infinite. Incredible!

 

Says Goni of the project: "Sel [Balamir of Amplifier’s plan was to create a sequence of paintings inspired by fractal imagery. The process was exciting as Sel gave me this one solid starting point then urged me to run with any possible inspiration that came of it. Like walking a dog to the park and taking the leash off, I went crazy." Below, the full fractal sequence, followed by initial sketches and links where you can purchase the epic collection (for a fairly reasonable price, all things considered).

 

Often by way of the unrefined medium of ballpoint pen, UK artist Mark Powell turns vintage envelopes into portraits of the elderly. His high-contrast black-and-white images find their strength in wrinkles, as though making some sort of meta-commentary about aging faces upon aging trees. Creases separate mouths from noses and stamps and seals make fanciful bindis, stressing that there is a story to be found in every one of these century-old envelopes, whether infused with Powell's artistic intentions of not.

 

Seattle artist Joey Bates has spent the last handful of years adhering to a breakneck schedule of shows, and he's ready to slow down.I caught up with Joey during a self-imposed hiatus; he has decided to take a break from showing and spend more time exploring new directions in his work. "I'm actually feeling really lost with what I'm doing art wise," he happily admits, "and there's something invigorating about that." For all his professed uncertainty, Bates does not come across as someone who is feeling creatively lost, and the works in progress that adorn the walls of his workspace in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood are testaments to his steady productivity.
Seeing Bates' home studio is like opening a brand new pack of colored pencils: everything is satisfyingly uniform and perfectly laid out by color, and his drafting table seems too meticulously organized to be in actual use. But Bates in person is as precise as his paintings, and he keeps his studio organized to an extent that, like the photo shoot of a sparsely furnished modernist home, elicits a twinge of envy for a level of immaculate attention to detail that most of us will never be able to sustain. Bates works in graphite and gouache to segment the planes of the face and figure into a series of nestled curves, creating portraits that read almost as topographic maps. He reduces the arcs of the human form into shapes that draw the eye into a constant sense of movement, and the meticulous detail of his linework is so thoroughly exacted that it gives the deceptive impression of being effortless. His first pieces concentrated almost entirely on faces, and by honing his focus in on the minutia of his models' features, he shifted the emphasis away from his subjects as individuals and instead created psychological studies of specific expressions. Bates originally began observing the human face because of an interest in capturing variations in non-verbal communication, and his compositions are meditations on the myriad small parts that comprise the whole. His interest in expression arose from observing the ways that people communicate. "There's something universal in expressions," Bates tells me, "but there's something very much not universal in how we read them, in the way we empathize and connect with each other."
There's something universal in expressions, but there's something very much not universal in how we read them, in the way we empathize and connect with each other." -- Joey Bates
(L) Jillian, in collaboration with Shaun Kardinal; Helga, in collaboration with Amanda Fiebing

 

 

Oh, but of course Oakland's Randy Colosky is the main artist showing at this month's Gallery Hijinks (2309 Bryant St., San Francisco) show (stated in a knowing-yet-pleasantly-surprised way)! Nondeterministic Algorithm. shown below, is a series of seven ink drawings on paper that use repetition of the same shapes to plot unique paths in three-dimensional space, like slithering cosmic Slinkys. Given their color palettes, one might almost expect for them to pop out and swallow you into a cascading vortex, upon one's donning of a pair of 3-D glasses -- or perhaps even without. The show is on display through April 28th, 2012. Below, Colosky gives some insight into his artwork.

 

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Chicago-based illustrator and artist Jacob Van Loon has recently taken inspiration from the films of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. Two of Van Loon's latest pieces, The Moguls (Stalker) and Let Alone A Planet (Solaris) -- named after two Tarkovsky films of the same name -- are chaotic and multi-layered mixed media works inspired by the content, moods, and color palettes of those films. "I can't think of a director who has done more with film as a medium," says Van Loon of Tarkovsky. "I was dealing with the assignment of dense conceptual material during the painting process. I found it easier to speculate on the latent aspects of both films; the psychological confrontations posed by the pace, sound, and color." Though Van Loon readily admits that both films felt initially inaccessible to him, the Q&A below will show how repeat viewings led to the gelling of his artistic style with philosophical and psychological interpretations of Tarkovsky's themes.

(TOP) The Moguls (Stalker) Diptych 24"x40"; (BOTTOM) The Moguls (Stalker) Detail - Watercolor, graphite View entire Stalker Series On Jacob Van Loon's Website

 

Mount Eerie - To The Ground 7"

Our European friends Atelier Ciseaux are releasing a limited edition copy of To The Ground, a 7" featuring the tracks "To The Ground" and "The Mouth Of Sky" (MIDI Strings). As with all Atelier Ciseaux mixes, this one does not disappoint, and they're proving it to you by offering the whole thing for stream, below. The artwork is designed by Phil Elverum himself, and the release is limited to 300 copies.

 

Order To The Ground 7" On Atelier Ciseaux July 12th, 2012 Update After the records were distirbuted, Atelier Ciseaux asked fans to take photographs of where their copy of To The Ground ended up. Scroll over the image above to see some examples, or see the rest on Armour & Discipline.

 

Dictators! Love them or hate them (philosophically-speaking), it's hard to argue that a Communist aesthetic a la Mao Zedong or Joseph Stalin doesn't have a compelling color palette and welcome vintage grain associated with it. Perhaps in spite of themselves -- or perhaps not -- illustrators and artists the world over are constantly reinventing these iconic images of humanity's most well-known leaders; the question is why. Andy Warhol included Mao in his collection of silkscreened works in 1972. Since then, many artists have followed in his footsteps to reimagine the dictator's face and place. In this post is a mix of classic images of China's Mao Zedong, alongside new interpretations of his distinguished mug and some philosophical ramblings.

When Nicholas Bohac left behind the Midwest to pursue his artistic career in one of the most expensive cities in the country -- San Francisco -- the decision must have been both wise, for the connections and experience, and terrifying, for the potential financial burden. But thanks to a sympathetic landlord and a supportive wife with more gainful employment, Bohac lives in the SF's Outer Richmond neighborhood, within blocks of Golden Gate Park, and has a studio space that he shares with his landlord, free of charge. The garage studio is hardly one to lounge about comfortably in, but considering the skyrocketing housing rates of the city and its general shortage of space, Bohac is one lucky man. Bohac is one of a small percentage of artists who has the rare luxury of working on art at his leisure. His leisure, however, is not one to be taken lightly; he estimates that he created 15-18 mid-sized pieces, 165 small pieces, and participating in eight shows in 2011. 2012, though, is a new year -- and with it, comes a new approach. He has taken the time thus far in 2012 to step back and reassess his work and his direction. He is learning to be more choosy and to expect more from his work, at the same time that he is reconstructing what he wants his outwards-facing image to be.
Upon first glance, Bohac's works are complex and psychedelic in nature, full of unnatural colors and shapes. But despite how obscured, manipulated and tweaked they might be, their very cores are centered around landscapes -- one interest that is deeply-rooted and enduring in Bohac's life. After all, it is landscapes which drew Bohac from the Midwest, where he had lived his entire life, to the West Coast. "I came out here to visit a friend who had moved out here... [and] I just was like, 'Whoa, there's a lot of stuff out here happening that I've never seen before,'" he recalls. "I'd seen mountains and I'd seen oceans, but I think everything just coalesced together in this area, and it makes these really interesting landscapes." To pay homage to his new surroundings, Bohac began with painstakingly rendered tempera paintings based off of photographs he had taken of the ocean. Ultimately, though, it was attending art school and taking in critiques from others that refined Bohac's style from mere imitation to reimaginings of everyday scenery.
"I think one of the best things anyone -- any instructor -- ever said of me was when I was making two or three of these collage paintings at once, and they were all at night and you could see the blue sky and the stars. He said, 'Why don't you make the sky this pink?' and that's all he had to say, and all of a sudden everything opened up a little bit more."