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September 2011

Tobias Batz

Tobias batz Tobias Batz' work, a fusion of fashion photography and street art, is a respectful celebration of the female sprit. It reflects the urban landscape of New York City and its inhabitants. His cutting edge use of photography, body painting, spray paint and experimental methods of digital processing pays homage to Andy Warhol, Frederico Fellini, Man Ray and edgy fashion photographers such as Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon.

These works of art can only be called “pictures,” not “paintings,” or “drawings,” for he creates them with paint, and drawing, and photography, and digitized electronic synthesis and editing, a “palate” of all the means that the 21st Century offers to the visual artist.

Why not use them all freely interchangeably and synergistically in single works of art? Why not? You really think that given the chance Leonardo DaVinci wouldn’t have computer enhanced some of his paintings? Or that the late Renaissance Dutch hyper-realists wouldn’t have creamed in their velvet jeans to have been able to play with real photography instead of mere camera obscura?

Tobias Batz knows this very well, using paints, dyes, photos, Photoshop, computer synthesis, whatever, to create images of his urban dreamers, by a 21st. Century artist who has been one of them, and for the evolution of this multi-mode palette as the dominant creative mode of 21st. Century art. An art in which the multiplex means of its creation is entirely unbound and beside the true point of all visual art. Sorry Marshall McLuhan, but in the 21st Century, the medium is not the message, but only a delivery system for the message. The message is not the means with which it was created or the material matrix in which it exists. The message is the image itself.

Larry Zox

Larry Zox Larry Zox achieved art world prominence in 1973 as the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In the catalogue to that exhibition curator James Monte writes that these earliest collage works are “extremely graphic and take advantage of spatial jumps alternately back into an illusionary picture plane and forward into the viewer’s space.”

Zox’s signature style – the splicing of a color field to give the sensation of shifting planes – was pivotal in these early collage paintings, and evolved into the graceful looping patterns of his later work. These collage paintings reveal the individualism and brio that are the hallmarks of Zox’s contribution to American art.

Samuel Bak

Samuel bak There is something haunting and unsettling about the paintings of Samuel Bak. Once you know his personal history you understand why.

Samuel Bak was born on August 12, 1933 in Vilna, Poland. A few years later the area was incorporated into the independent republic of Lithuania. He was eight when the Germans invaded in 1941 and established a ghetto for the Jewish population. At first he and his parents hid in a local monastery; when the Germans grew suspicious, they escaped to the ghetto.

Bak began painting while still a child, and had his first exhibition (in the Vilna ghetto) in 1942 at the age of nine. From the ghetto the family was sent to a labor camp on the outskirts of the city. His mother escaped and took refuge with a distant relative who had converted to Christianity and was living undetected in Vilna. Then Bak’s father managed to save his son by dropping him in a sack out of a ground floor window of the warehouse where he was working; he was met by a maid and brought to the house where his mother was hiding. His father was shot by the Germans in July 1944, a few days before Soviet troops liberated the city. His four grandparents had earlier been executed at the killing site in the Vilna suburb called Ponary.

After the war, the young Bak continued painting at the Displaced Persons camp in Landsberg, Germany (1945-1948) and also studied painting in Munich. In 1948, he and his mother emigrated to Israel, where he studied for a year at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. After fulfilling his military service, he spent three years (1956-59) at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He then moved to Rome (1959-66), returned to Israel (1966-74), and lived for a time (1974-77) in New York City. There followed further years in Israel and Paris, then a long stay (1984-93) in Switzerland. Since 1993 Bak has lived and worked outside Boston, in Weston, Massachusetts.

In 2001 he published a detailed autobiography, Painted in Words: A Memoir (Indiana University Press). Samuel Bak’s paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries and hang in public collections in England, the United States, Israel, Germany and Switzerland.

Between Worlds: The Paintings and Drawings of Samuel Bak from 1946 to 2001 (Boston: Pucker Art Publications, 2002), a survey of more than a half-century of his work, summarizes the sources of his vision as follows: Bak’s life has inevitably influenced his choice of images and themes. The particulars of Vilna and the Holocaust, of surviving and being a wandering Jew, are part of his individual biography; but all are also aspects of our shared human condition.

Bak has always sought to find the universal in the specific. His ongoing dialogues with the long-dead members of his family, with his early teachers, with the great masters of all epochs, with contemporary culture, and with the Bible and the diverse host of Jewish traditions—all come from his desire to represent the universality of loss and the endurance of man’s hope for a tikkun.

Chiho Aoshima

Chiho Aoshima Debuting in the art scene with no formal art training, Chiho Aoshima’s work transcends traditional techniques of representation.  Aoshima uses computer software to create beautiful and erotic worlds of ghosts, demons, schoolgirls, and exquisite natural landscapes. Her work is printable on any surface; from canvas bags to giant wallpaper installations.  “My work feels like strands of my thoughts that have flown around the universe before coming back to materialize,” Aoshima states. 

Aoshima’s work has garnered international renown with a number of high profile projects.  She collaborated with Issey Miyake in 2003, with her artwork featured in the spring/summer collection. In 2004, she was invited to participate in the 54th Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, where she unveiled her largest wallpaper piece to date, measuring 106 feet (32.5m ) in length by 15 feet (4.8m ) in height.  In May 2005, as part of the Little Boy project, her ecologically-themed “City Glow” and “Paradise” series covered ad spaces throughout the Union Square subway station in New York, greeting commuters as they passed. In a solo show in 2005, Aoshima presented both her first sculptural work and a 5-screen 7-minute animation piece.

With a mastery of computer technology and a vocabulary of images drawn from Japanese comics and animation, the Tokyo artist Chiho Aoshima creates fantasy worlds in which hybridized creatures are participants in the composition's narrative as well as elements in a decorative scheme.

Magma Spirit Explodes. Tsunami Is Dreadful, a mural that spans a 40-foot wall, is a narrative of almost cinematic scope and complexity. Nature and humanity wreak havoc in myriad ways, from tidal waves to fiery conflagrations and war. These disasters, however, have been carefully choreographed; bright flames to the left of the composition give way in effortless transition to volcanic puffs of smoke that are in turn transformed into the blue-green expanse of a tsunami.

At the center of the mural, a giantess presides; she displays the round-eyed prettiness and flowing hair of a stereotypical animé ingénue. Belching smoke and snorting flames, arms and hair tendrils flailing wildly, she is soul and mistress of the mayhem, alluringly beautiful yet terrible in her anger.