Artists T-Z

Anna Torma

Anna tormaFrom Hyperallergic - Angels, devils, dragons, and monsters are just a few of the unruly creatures that maraud across Anna Torma’s delightfully chaotic textiles. The Hungarian-Canadian artist’s multicolored, swirling scenes are filled with semi-clothed human-animal crossovers tangled together in curious acts of sex and mischief. Inspired by fairy tales, children’s drawings, Hungarian folklore, and medieval legends, Torma’s playful, hand-sewn worlds present an especially engrossing escape from the bleakness of everyday pandemic life.

Torma was born in 1952 in Tarnaörs, a village in northern Hungary. Her first contact with art came from her parents: her father painted landscapes and still lifes when he wasn’t farming, and her mother and grandmothers taught the young artist regional needleworking techniques used to prepare a young woman’s bridal trousseau. Torma’s facility with class drawing assignments and skill with sewing doll clothes were early signs of her artistic path. “I have always been smart with my hands,” Torma told Hyperallergic in a video call from her New Brunswick studio. Torma, whose sunny studio is filled with potted plants and piles of new works, is shy but quick to smile, and speaks in a soft, melodic voice.

For decades, Torma has collected found textile objects like crochet doilies, embroidery samplers, lace, appliqué, and fabric clippings. Some of her favorites appear in her Personal Ribbon (2020) series. In these works, textile objects like scraps of traditional Hungarian embroidery and a fabric photograph of the artist’s grandparents are arranged along strips of hemp cloth. Collectively, the sequenced artefacts form a sort of exhibition within an exhibition of the artist’s personal and material points of origin. Unlike her previous works, these place Torma’s biography at their center. “Activities with textile are always very personal,” the artist said, and with these works, “I invite you to my life in a private way.”



Felix Vallotton

Felix vallottonAccording to the New York Times, Swiss painter and printmaker Félix Vallotton was an intriguing, talented but slippery artist. You often don’t quite know what to expect next in terms of style or subject, even within the same year.

Vallotton, who wrote criticism for a newspaper in Lausanne, Switzerland (where he was born in 1865), gave Rousseau an early laudatory review.

Although Vallotton ignored most of modernism, he influenced such surrealists as Dalí and Magritte, and also the Neue Sachlichkeit (new realism) painters of Weimar Germany.

In addition to painting, Vallotton created a series of groundbreaking woodblock prints in the 1890s, which made him famous, provided entry into the Parisian avant-garde and made his place in modernist art history. Their daring black and white compositions depict some of the pleasures, but more often skewer the hypocrisies and inequities of Parisian life. Vallotton did not see life as full of happy endings.

He made his first woodblock prints in 1891, inspired by the innovations of Japanese artists, eliminating their rich colors while exploiting their practice of cutting with rather than against the grain. It facilitated the curving shapes and lines basic to his formal wit.

Within a year Vallotton had a thriving, if not highly remunerative career. His terse exercises in dark and light appeared in periodicals, illustrated books and portfolios in Paris, then London and as far as Chicago. They were nearly instantly understood as radical, and by the mid-90s Vallotton was a regular illustrator for Le Cri de Paris, a left-wing magazine and the like-minded journal La Revue Blanche, which also covered culture (and was founded by Alexandre and Thadée Natanson). The woodblocks have the compression and legibility of cartoons and news photos, the formal daring of abstract art and the literary punch of modern short stories.


Virginia Rose Torrence

Rose ceramicsVirginia Rose Torrence’s mosaics are constructed entirely from found objects, principally the content of several bins of hoarded ceramic shards saved over the course of three decades by an adjunct ceramics professor at Marygrove College, where Crissman just finished his term as a professor (due to the closure of the undergraduate program).

“I’ve been working there all summer,” said Torrence, “because it’s a really beautiful space and because the whole upstairs was abandoned, and we got to do whatever we wanted. I was on a walk and I all of a sudden just realized that that was amazing free material.” The resulting body of work playfully reframes elements of classic portraiture and Dutch still life painting, drawing together figurative and abstract compositions that level the hierarchy between fine art and literal trash, including fruit rinds and bottle shards found on the her weekly walks at the nearby Belle Isle Park.

“I’m encapsulating all those materials under one skin of plastic — and that’s a really satisfying action, to stop the decay of something, and try to unify them and bring them all into the same space,” said Torrence. The image of a once-living fruit incorporated into a tile mosaic is jarring and, just as the symbology of Dutch still life presented notions of desire and memento mori, these ceramics subtly struggle with the ultimate futility of art to stop time, try as it might.

Lena Viddo

Jessica Bush interviewed artist Lena Viddo:

The-Kiss-700x699New-York based artist Lena Viddo carries a sensual passion for life that shines through her provocative oil paintings. Equally beautiful and disturbing, her work explores the light and dark sides of our modern society. We caught up Lena for an insight into her creative life.

Describe your work to someone who has never seen it before.

My canvasses are where animal and human realms collide among surrealist landscapes. My work depicts a focused reality not tethered to realism, and it evokes a life on the edge of the incarnate. I like to disturb and entertain all in the same show.

What do you hope to affect within the viewer with your paintings?

My allegorical portraits celebrate the beauty and the horror of modern life. I attempt to represent the ambivalence I feel about mainstream popular culture and its focus on narcissism, self interest, body image and the tyranny of beauty.

My concerns span huge territory and include things such as materialism, lust for power, fascination with celebrity, technology’s impact on love, mental health, and relationships in this virtual age where children no longer run and play, but sit passively entertained by screens.

The Cesar A. Cruz’ quote “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” speaks to me.

Where did you grow up?

With a Colombian father and a Swedish mother I had strong connections to the coastal land in Colombia, and the rolling hills of Dalarna, Sweden. These opposite worlds speak to me and are reflected in my work.

How is creativity celebrated in your culture compared to other places you have lived and worked?

Creatively speaking I lean towards Colombia, where creativity and individuality are highly revered. Expressive and bold Colombians are making statements everywhere they go. Sweden on the other hand is very conservative and reserved where creativity and individuality are concerned. Swedes are reserved emotionally and this I must say was never easy for me.

I am extremely disciplined, hence I am one of the least spontaneous people I know. Perhaps the down side of getting a great deal accomplished is that I miss chance moments and happenings. I often envy my free spirited friends.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

Oil paint has a sensuality and flexibility that no other paint has. It can even be sculptural. When I look at great works in oil, I know they are good when I experience the visceral reaction of my mouth actually watering. I feel the impulse to want to eat the paint. Also, for me, translating three dimensions onto a two-dimensional surface is more effective with oils.

The medium of light has been calling to me for some time now. I have an upcoming project installation for an arts festival, Bonjuk Burn in the Middle East. I am excited to be visiting Turkey for the first time where I will be exploring the new medium of light installation for the first time.

Who inspires you?

Children inspire me with their free, perfect and uninhibited approach and view of the world. Through them I transport myself to a time when I was more complete and whole, unaffected by social conditioning and all of the societal impositions impressed upon us to conform to rules and our parents standards. I also use them for feedback and critique sessions with regard to my work. They always teach me new ways to see it.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The best piece of advice I have ever received is to invest long hard hours into my endeavors. From Lance Armstrong to my martial arts master, Sabunim, this has been a recurring theme and personal mantra of mine.

The message is that with time, hours, perseverance and service, one can achieve true mastery.

If you could offer a piece of advice to the ‘you’ at the beginning of your career, what would you say?

The Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Also, get rid of the people and things that don’t serve you and your vision in life. Cut out television, too much social media, talk to people and look into their eyes.

Be present and always be yourself. It is your greatest asset. Never betray yourself by trying to be someone you are not.

The Dark & Sensual Paintings of Lena Viddo

Follow Lena’s work via her website www.lenaviddo.com

The Next Big Art Movement - Mosaics and the Artists Breaking the Mold

By George Tibbett, curator

Perhaps even more exciting than the opening of the anxiously anticipated extension of the Q subway line along 2nd Avenue in Manhattan was the mosaic art in each new station. Many NYC subway stations have some mosaics but these new stations bring it to a new artistic level with artwork by Sarah Sze, Chuck Close and Vik Muniz all translated into large mosaics.

So will this push the art of mosaics into greater acceptance in the established art world?  Mosaics as with ceramics, has long been relegated to crafts rather than fine art. But this may be changing. Established ceramicists, such as Betty Woodman, have had solo shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Emerging ceramicists like Lulu Yee have been the toast of Bushwick Open Studios. So as go ceramics, so go mosaics?

Mosaics should mean more than just a jigsaw puzzle of pieces that form an image. Great mosaic art should expand the range of the medium. Here is a list of the top five ground-breaking mosaic artists working today:

Jorge camposJorge Campos aka Pixel

Pixel, is a Santiago street artist whose mosaic work pixelates cultural heroes such as Nicanor Parra, artists such as Van Gogh, and iconic artwork like from Roy Lichtenstein. Pixel brings his mosaics to the streets where his work blends with other forms of street art for people to enjoy on the streets of Santiago. According to MosaicArtNow, Pixel explains the relationship of his art with the public. He says, “At first, people think they are facing a painting. Approaching and touching, they realize they are in fact facing a mosaic. Then, they wonder if it was really hand made.  They also play with distance to appreciate the work in detail, take photos, and when the image is revealed perfect and detailed on the small screens of their smartphones, they fall for it!”


Sonia kingSonia King

Using a range of different materials, King’s mosaics are complex compilations that, as her website states, stimulate the imagination. Some of her work is described as coded messages. She asserts, “These mosaics explore the dynamic tension created when familiar organic shapes can be seen as both macro and micro visions of our landscape. Shapes that are simultaneously at rest and moving, pulling the tesserae together into a complex composition while exploring the interaction of each element and the mystery of the spaces between.”


IMG_9330-croppedCharlene Weisler

Weisler describes herself as an urban artist with an interest in decaying and discarded objects. First starting in photography, Weisler was captivated by decaying, peeling and eroding street art. From there, she gravitated to collecting and assembling discarded and broken objects to not only capture their inherent beauty and mystery but also to create new mosaic images. She explains, “My mosaics are often unplanned and are created organically as the pieces come together to tell their story. A broken mug, a piece of shattered plate or a discarded misshapen object are all important elements in my work.”






Isiaih zagarIsaiah Zagar

Isaiah Zagar might be best known for one of his greatest achievements – The Magic Garden in Philadelphia, which is essentially a full house and side yard of compiled mosaic art.  As described by Lonely Planet, “Think of all the things you have thrown away this week – an old shoe, a broken mirror, a loose button, an empty bottle of wine. Then picture all of it broken apart, artfully cobbled together with quirky objects like antique tiles and hand-carved Mexican dolls, and applied to a wall with cement, clay, paint and glue to form a gloriously colorful mural. This is the work of septuagenarian Philadelphia-born Isaiah Zagar: mosaic artist, world traveler, visionary, dumpster diver.”


Domingo zapataDomingo Zapata

Better known as a painter, Zapata had a chance encounter when he walked into Koko Mosaico in Ravenna, Italy.  It was there that he saw the potential of mosaics to translate his paintings into formative artwork. “With these pieces, I wanted to create great contrast and pay tribute to the history of art.  I find taking a painting done in graffiti and recreating it using these ancient techniques helps me to understand the contemporary moment. These works represent to me where we have been and where we are going – they derive their strength from this duality,” he states on MosaicArtNow.

Jack Whitten

Jack Whitten John Yau writes about Jack Whitten:

In the more than fifty years since Jack Whitten’s work was first included in a four-person show at Allan Stone in 1965, the year after he graduated from Cooper Union, he has proven impossible to characterize. While this is very much to Whitten’s credit, I also think that the radical stylistic and material transformations his work has undergone partly contributed to why — for many decades — he remained an underappreciated artist. Another reason was because he began exhibiting his unaffiliated paintings in the 1960s, when painting was considered dead or dying, and critics and institutions began championing artists who didn’t paint. Adding to this neglect is the fact that it is easy to miss the achievements of a black abstract painter if you are a white critic busy celebrating Conceptual Art. Because of a variety of so-called color-blind prejudices such as these, the art world did not begin to seriously deal with Whitten’s merger of formal inventiveness and emotional content until the past decade, when he entered his seventies. And, if you ask me, he still hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves.

The Sixties in America, in contrast to the optimism of the immediate postwar era, was frightening for everyone, full of fear, death, anger, resistance, and mourning — a daily consciousness of terror that never quite abated. During that time many of the most celebrated artists were the ones who were disengaged from this reality. They were content to fill the white box with their historically important works. This was the dilemma that Whitten, who was born in 1939 in Bessemer, Alabama, deep in the heart of the legally segregated South, faced. In an interview with Robert Storr that appeared in the Brooklyn Rail (September 2007), this is how he talked about the Sixties:

At that time, I was doing the best I could to contain the kind of imagery I was seeing. It wasn’t an intellectual situation, but rather, it was an emotional necessity. As a matter of fact, they’re my autobiographical paintings. I mean, I was going through a serious crisis in my life. But then everybody was. The whole race issue forced me to pick myself apart subconsciously until I met people like LeRoi Jones, Romare Bearden, and Jacob Lawrence who had found other solutions for their creative lives.


Lulu Yee

Bos-2015-picks-lulu-yee-1024x768 Lulu Yee is a ceramic artist who has created a colorful, imaginative and almost mystical world of fantastic and playful creatures. No two are alike but all embody a colorful and creative verve.

As Benjamin Sutton writes for the Bushwick Open studio event, "Lulu Yee's studio at 1717 Troutman, in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, its walls painted bold colors and every available surface inhabited by her sweet, strange, and ornate ceramic sculptures of crowns and humanoid figures, felt like an enticing test run for a much more ambitious and elaborate installation. I sincerely hope a gallery gives her a chance to create a total environment for her intricately painted ceramic objects."

Derek Weisberg

Derek weisbergDerek Weisberg creates works which are emotional and psychological self-portraits. "Through my art I aim to make sense of my life, my experiences, and the times I live. I do not wish to represent like a photo, instead achieve a guttural, visceral, heartfelt sensibilities. Accessibility is key as I attempt to express basic human qualities, which are universal and timeless. At its core my work reflect humanist ideology; searching for truth and universal morality based on the commonality of the human condition. Much of my work focuses on conditions of longing, loss, dysfunction, fragility, vulnerability and melancholy. In 2006, when my mother passed away I began to include themes of death, afterlife, spirituality and the metaphysical. A traditional Jewish concept and practice, which I exercise through my work, is that “The voyage of the soul is dependent upon the actions of the ones who are living”. Themes of death are explored through expressing life. To experience death is to experience the most unique situation in life; it is simultaneously completely familiar and alien, definitive and confusing, guaranteed and mysterious. My work is a combination and slow digestion of all these dualities and subtleties."

He was born in 1983 and began sculpting at a very early age starting with the medium of mashed potatoes as soon as he could hold a fork and knife, moving onto action figure assemblage when he could load a hot glue gun, and at age 7 he transitioned into the medium of ceramics, which was the beginning of his lifelong love and ultimate passion. He unwaveringly pursued ceramics sculpture throughout his childhood and teens, in Benicia, CA, where he was raised. At age 18 he moved to Oakland, CA, to pursue his love for ceramics and art in general and attended California College of Arts and Crafts. At CCAC he received several awards and graduated with high honors in 2005 with a BFA. Since then Weisberg has co-owned his own gallery, Boontling Gallery, as well as curated numerous other shows. He has also worked with highly esteemed artists such as Stephen De Staebler, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Manuel Neri, and many others. In addition Weisberg has maintained a strong and demanding studio practice, exhibiting regionally, nationally, and internationally. Weisberg has participated in over 90 shows in the last 8 years, and there are no signs of slowing down in the future. Weisberg currently lives and works in NY and is faculty at Greenwich House Pottery.

Naomi Yasuda

FingernailNaomi Yasuda creates mesmerizing nail designs that use color as a starting point. She often tops these tiny paintings with beads and ornaments, transforming nails from flat canvases into sculptural works of art. She grew up watching her grandmother, a kimono tailor, make garments from intricately patterned fabrics. The designs shown here, created for Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, are inspired by those traditional Japanese patterns.

Hans Tan

Hans TanHans Tan has used a batik-inspired technique to transform the traditional decoration of his ceramics' surface and carefully sandblasts the unmasked portion, revealing the delicate white porcelain below. The process highlights fragments of color from the original surface. The Spotted Nyonya series employs a pattern of dots.

Hans Tan is a designer and an educator based in Singapore. His work is occupied with the authenticity of the contemporary design artifact being a deliberate gesticulation of material culture. Working across objects and installations, he deploys design as medium, making use of utility as a pretext to explore ideas concerning heritage and consumption, at the same time drawing on notions pertaining to the materiality of one’s imagination. 

In 2009, Hans was nominated for the Design Miami Designers of the Future Award and was spotted by Designnet magazine Korea as one of 36 Young Asian Designers. He was a winner of the Martell Rising Personalities Award 2009, which honours individuals from different creative fields who are passionately driven to push beyond the boundaries of success. His works have been shown in exhibitions such as “Singletown” at the Venice Biennale, “Surface art/design” in Dortmund and Cologne, and “No Boundaries” at ArtStage Singapore. His work, Spotted Nyonya, was awarded with the distinction of “Les Découvertes” (best innovative product) at the the fall edition of Maison et Objet 2012 in Paris, and most recently been conferred Design of the Year at the President’s Design Award 2012, Singapore’s most prestigious design accolade. In 2013, he was named as one of Perspective’s 40 under 40, an award that recognizes design talent from the Asia- Pacific region. 

Hans has also actively engaged in curatorial work, and has produced several exhibitions with a keen interest in local design culture. His penchant for design pedagogy is guided by the concept of deformative inquiry, developing imaginative thinking tools that provide novel approaches to the design process based on generative deformations, use of language and systematic reflection. He is an assistant professor at the Division of Industrial Design, National University of Singapore.