Working in a range of disciplines, Valerie Meotti strives to give her art immediacy and understandability.
She explained, "Painting and creating visual art has been my passion for most of my life. My motives are not to send a message but to be felt. What one takes from my imagery is yours alone. I have a difficult time explaining why I create but I can tell you how. I have never felt I was a catalyst trying to reveal a profound message.
I am not a singular artist in that I can not settle on one technique of expression. I enjoy having the versatility and knowledge to explore and experiment. Watercolors are my base of operations, the one thing I rely on most. My unique digital transfer technique utilizes my graphic capability but lets me develop it freely like a painting, using both my major influences. With this I cross over into collage components developing most of my mixed media works. Oil painting, I am new to but I love the color and luminescence that can be achieved. I will continue my learning. Ceramics are mainly for the quirky characters I developed called Pistachio People and I still illustrate the little guys. I believe they can be in a successful mass market someday. Someday I will achieve the independence to sustain my art. Just looking for some glimpse of encouragement."
Claudio Parentelais an illustrator, painter, photographer, mail artist, cartoonist, collagist, journalist free lancer. He has been active for many years in the international underground scene and has collaborated with many zines,magazines of contemporary art,literary and of comics in Italy and in the world. His work can be categorized as street art but with a variety of mediums. He describes his illustration style as,"anarchic, cool, conceptual, twisted, schizophrenic, obsessive, and chaotic."
"I feel completely absolutely free only when I’m amongst my 'artistic things' and in my studio, with my photos, my papers, my colours, my glue, my scissors, my ropes, tapes, plastics, all my 1000 things I found around in the city. It’s been difficult to arrive here where I’m now but it’s a wonderful continuous magical journey, every moment and every day," he says.
What advice would you give to other artists? To be and to continue to be, and try to be themselves. It’s so important, and then to have fun to have fun to have fun.
In recent years, some of the most active dealers and collectors in the outsider-art field have been looking beyond Europe and North America in search of interesting discoveries from other parts of the world, including East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Among the more interesting finds to recently emerge have been the hard-to-classify drawings and paintings of the prolific Japanese autodidact Issei Nishimura, which pose something of a challenge for art sellers and buyers alike who want or need category labels to help them grasp what’s going on in his work. For Nishimura’s art is all punch and potency; its genre label might be something as unique as “expressionistic/psychological/automatist/psychedelic-baroque.”
Now, with Painting the Japanese Blues: Introducing Issei Nishimura, Cavin-Morris Gallery is presenting a first-ever US solo exhibition of this artist’s works (on view through February 15) at its Chelsea venue. Although the gallery showed a handful of his paintings at the Outsider Art Fair in New York a few weeks ago, and at last year’s fair as well, this presentation offers a broader survey of Nishimura’s inventive techniques and a concentrated sampling of the intense creative energy — and often bizarre imagery — that characterize his oeuvre.
Yutaka Miyawaki, the Kyoto-based dealer who represents Nishimura in Japan, and with whom Cavin-Morris has collaborated in mounting its current show, told me during his visit to the recent Outsider Art Fair in New York: “Perhaps it’s not even worth referring to Nishimura as an outsider, because what he produces is not what people who are familiar with that kind of art expect to see. I regard him as a contemporary artist — period. However, he is self-taught and he does live in isolation, on the margins of society, and his work reflects an unusual, deeply personal vision. These characteristics are all associated with art brut or outsider art.” (An illustrated Galerie Miyawaki catalog of Nishimura’s work from 2014 can be found here.)
Nishimura was born in 1978 in Aichi Prefecture, in south-central Japan. Today, he lives with his parents in their family home in the hills on the edge of Nagoya, a commercial-industrial city that is Aichi’s capital. There, Nishimura keeps a modest studio space that spills out into a garden, in which he has painted the rocks of a stone path and even some sides of the house.
As a youngster, Issei enjoyed making drawings; later he became interested in American blues music and began playing the electric guitar. He remains enchanted by the mythical legend of the Black American bluesman, Robert Johnson (1911-1938), who supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talent.
As a young man, Nishimura moved to Tokyo to study music, but he did not easily adjust to big-city life, and socializing was difficult, too. Ultimately, he withdrew from society, returned to the family home, and devoted himself to his art-making, which had begun to occupy a central place in his life. He still enjoys and plays music, but he almost never ventures out or receives visitors.
Last summer, however, during a research trip to Japan, I was invited by the artist and his family to visit them at their home. That day, his parents told me, their son was both nervous and excited to receive a visitor who was interested in his work. As Nishimura began to feel at ease, he explained that he often begins a new composition spontaneously, without a lot of preliminary planning, and that his subjects may be inspired by his interests — music, his cat or other animals, plant forms, or a sudden thought or visual impression.
Various rooms of the Nishimuras’ house were stocked with Issei’s stored artworks, including many picture-filled sketchbooks and boxes full of small, postcard-size ink drawings. From one box, the artist pulled out a remarkable suite of portraits of his uncles, aunts, and other relatives. “Are these accurate likenesses?” I asked his parents. “Yes!” the artist’s mother responded enthusiastically, adding, “They’re both caricatures and recognizable portraits at the same time.”
By contrast, many of the images to be found in the artist’s Cavin-Morris survey feature exaggeratedly distorted faces or bodies; these are the kinds of pictures that tend to fill his sketchbooks. In the drawing “Moonrise” (2018, ink on paperboard), Nishimura stretches out a woman’s neck like gooey taffy, topping it with a noseless, girlish head that resembles a balloon tethered to a long string. This peculiar nude’s breasts seem to dangle from her body like misplaced ornaments, and each of her hands resembles some kind of leafy growth.
In other drawings in ink on paper or paperboard, Nishimura obscures faces or body parts in thickets of dense, wiry lines, or he depicts mysterious, toothy creatures that appear to emerge from a common body or share a common tail. (Japanese viewers may recognize their inspiration in monsters from Godzilla stories.)
Nishimura’s paintings can be completely unpredictable from one to the next. In the current exhibition, bold palettes and abstract shapes that sometimes camouflage or unexpectedly transform themselves into more recognizable forms turn up in such images as “Untitled” (2013, acrylic and crayon on fabric, mounted on plywood), in which what appears to be a yellow fish with an open mouth makes its way horizontally across the composition, only to blend into what may be read as a human figure in profile, even as the artist throws in the outline of a front-facing body.
In “My Mother’s Permed Hair” (2013, acrylic on fabric, mounted on plywood), a voluminous, yellow-pink coif surrounds a distorted, abstracted face that would have made the Surrealists proud. In fact, Miyawaki told me, Nishimura made this painting one day right after his mother returned from a beauty parlor, where, for the first time in many years, she had had her hair permed, a change in appearance that shocked her son.
“Fear of Eye” (2013, acrylic on canvas), the largest painting on view, is also the exhibition’s most complex image. By e-mail, Miyawaki sent me several photos documenting this work’s evolution over time; through several different stages, the artist frequently — and often rather thoroughly — overpainted his composition until arriving at a final, bold image, in which a big, broad face with what appear to be four eyes stares out more eerily than menacingly at a viewer. Later, commenting on this picture, Nishimura explained to Miyawaki that he had been bullied as a child and that, even today, he feels a traumatic reaction when people look at him.
When I met the artist last year, he told me that he works feverishly on his drawings, sometimes filling several sketchbooks in a single day, and that he tends to work intensively for varying periods of time, with in-between lulls, during which he rests, enjoys his music, and develops new visual ideas.
But he can be impulsive, too, seizing his pens or paints to immediately capture something he has observed or an image gestating in his imagination, from lounging cats to mushrooms, lyrically abstracted females forms, and enigmatic, fractured faces.
In Japan today, difficult-to-categorize artworks like Nishimura’s can — and perhaps should — be appreciated in the wider context of expressionist and abstract art forms, of which Japanese modernists, from members of the postwar Gutai group to the multidisciplinary artist Tarō Okamoto (1911-1996), certainly have put forth their own distinctive offerings.
For now, Nishimura’s US debut opens the door a bit wider to contemporary developments in the field of so-called self-taught art in Asia, shaking up expectations about the character and appearance of the work of such remarkable autodidacts.
"My work rises to the surface of my mind from deep within my sub-conscious. It is intuitive and rather compulsive. It is an attempt to make sense of the chaos that I experience in my mind and the world. Art allows me to explore what often feels frightening and overwhelming in a way that makes it visible, but also safe. Transforming it into something tangible. My artwork simultaneously expresses joy and angt; two states of being that I hold simultaneously. Much of my work explores this dichotomy: chaos vs order, spontenaouty vs precision. Trying to make order out of chaos."
Creating intensely personal, vivid artworks from assemblages to abstract paintings, mixed media work, to sculptures, artist Kate Carvellas finds great beauty in the every day. Whether she’s creating mixed media work that springs up form her subconscious or working with found objects to shape assemblages that turn discarded materials into something that vibrates with new life, she’s moved to make the simple profound.
With bright-hued abstract paintings both delicate and bold and sculptural works that seem pulled from a rich inner-world, Carvellas says her work is “an essential and intensely personal part of my life. It explores and expresses the inner workings of my mind and heart in a way that words cannot.” It is the artist’s hope that those viewing her work will find it resonates on an intellectual, emotional, or spiritual level.
In 2004 Kate began creating two-dimensional thematic montages using imagery from various magazines and clip art sources. With further exploration she began to pursue a different direction, creating, original, three dimensional collages. In 2007 she began exploring the creative world of mixed media and assemblage and fell in love with both of these media.
12 years ago her work was made entirely of borrowed images and objects. Through the years, she slowly began leaving her own marks on the work. Starting out with light pencil markings to more visible lines and shapes. As her confidence grew, so did the strength of her marks and brush strokes. While she is still deeply enjoying creating assemblages out of found objects, shes now creates abstract paintings made entirely from her own hand. These painting, at first, sprang straight from her subconscious. She has also been using her own photographs as the springboard for her abstract paintings. Abstracting reality.
Her newest work has, in a sense, brought her full-circle. She is now creating abstract works that combine painting, found objects and whatever else she finds that will fullfill her vision for the work. She is thrilled about this new direction.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Liene Bosquê (1980) is a visual artist based in New York City. In 2013 she was a resident artist at Workspace Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), having received the Manhattan Community Arts Fund. Bosquê has attended the New York Foundation for the Arts Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, in addition to participating in the 2012 Lower East Side Studio Program and being granted a place at the 2011 New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation.
"I am interested in the relationship between place and people. My work deals with the exploration of sensorial experience within architectural, urban and personal spaces. By the process of creating traces, shadows, impressions, imprints, and reflections, I emphasize context, memory, and history. My multidisciplinary practice, including installations, objects and site-specifics, finds ways to fragment habitual spaces, transforming rigid, subtle architectures into more fragile and pliable materials. I'm interested in materials that hold a memory and also already saturated with meaning. I investigate the passage of time, which changes place and how we look at place, through the presence and absence of who inhabit these places," she says.
Bosquê holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011), a BFA from the São Paulo Estate University (2003), and a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from the Mackenzie University (2004), also in São Paulo, Brazil. While living in Lisbon, Portugal, she was the recipient of the 2007 "Anteciparte" Award, having completed, in 2008, the Advanced Course at Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual (Ar.Co.).
Her installations, sculptures, performances, and site-specific works have been exhibited internationally at locations such as MoMA PS1 (2016), William Holman Gallery in New York (2015); the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Center in Governors Island, New York (2013); and New York Foundation for the Arts Gallery in Brooklyn, New York (2013); the Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst, Illinois (2012); Carpe Diem in Lisbon, Portugual (2010); Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil (2007); among others non-profit galleries and public spaces in Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, and United States.
Brandi Martin uses poetry to inform her art. She says, "The slurry grammar of the social networking used to bother me. But soon I found myself wanting to do the same. Why? I found that complete thoughts were drained of emotion. Phrased like evocative definitions of an unnamed something, in the voice of the second person, this shredding of language denies the academic third person; it feels visceral.
I tried diagramming it old school style. Breaking it up and rebuilding it again felt educational and metaphorical at the same time.
The ongoing nature of how we change language as it changes us. The fixed rules are actually temporal, and it’s our play with language as it flows past us that really remakes it. A few words on a card cut off from a sentence is poignant, it could end any way, we easily insert our lives into just three words. Less gives more. The fragmented sentences and phrases in my works are not broken instead of whole, they are open instead of closed. Every day we break the authority of text- and the shards aren’t the waste; they are how we enter into the conversation."
Brandi Martin's research-based practice delves into the the quiet crises of analysis and translation. Her work challenges the authority of any singular medium or moment by transparently layering imagery, media, and time.
Martin classifies these works as ‘metacognitive objects’. Connections and conflicts between self-referential elements create a rich friction for extended engagement, highlighting the viewers’ own thought processes.
Inspired by the poetry and mechanics of instructional methods, as well as the evocative qualities of found objects, Martin's most recent work refers to the photographic canon, the use of second person voice as applied to art, the poetics of broken language in ‘memes’, and searching out the indexical trace in the mundane.
Brandi Martin holds an MFA From the School of Visual arts in NYC. She makes sculpture, video, images and installations that struggle to resolve conflicting narratives. Brandi lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She is the recipient of residency awards in Gorna Lipitsa, Bulgaria (funded by the Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Arts Programme of the EEA) and The Bridgeguard Residency between the Mária Valéria bridge between Štúrovo, Slovakia, and Esztergom, Hungary (funded by the Štefan and Viera Frühauf Endowment Fund).
Rooted in historical evidence, Leonardo Drew’s abstract sculptural compositions are emotionally charged reflections on the cyclical nature of existence. From the eroded fibers of human industry and the tide of urban development to the awareness of ourselves as part of the fabric of a larger universe and a connection to all things, Drew exhumes the visions of the past in a mirror of organic reality that reveals the resonance of life - the nature of nature.
Drew has been making artwork since childhood, first exhibiting his work at the age of 13. He went on to attend the Parsons School of Design and received his BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and art in 1985. Since then his work has been shown in solo exhibitions at notable institutions such as Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1995); The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC (2000); the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, Ireland (2001); and Palazzo Delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena, Italy (2006). Drew’s mid-career survey exhibition, Existed: Leonardo Drew, debuted in 2009 at the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston and traveled to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC and the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA.
Drew has also collaborated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and has participated in artist residencies at ArtPace, San Antonio and The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, among others. He was awarded the 2011 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
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:
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Hannelore Baron was a self taught artist whose work has become known for the highly personal, book-sized, abstract textile based collages and box constructions that she began exhibiting in the late 1960s. Although her compositions are completely abstract, she considered them to be both personal and political statements. In her own words,
Everything I’ve done is a statement on the, as they say, human condition...the way other people march to Washington, or set themselves on fire, or write protest letters, or go to assassinate someone. Well, I’ve had all the same feelings that these people had about various things, and my way out, because of my inability to do anything else for various reasons, has been to make the protest through my artwork... H.B.
Born in Dillingen/Saar, Germany, she and her family fled persecution in Nazi Germany, illegally crossing the border into Luxembourg in 1939. In 1941 Baron's family sailed from Lisbon to New York and settled in the Bronx, New York City. By the time she graduated from the Staubenmiller Textile High School in Manhattan, Baron was avidly reading eastern philosophy, making increasingly abstract paintings and probably already experiencing the symptoms of claustrophobia and depression that would lead to a series of nervous breakdowns throughout her life. In the late 1950s Baron combined a variety of techniques and began making her first collages. Occupied with raising two children (daughter Julie and son Mark) and beset by psychological problems, Hannelore nevertheless exhibited her work and in 1969, the year of her one-person exhibition at Ulster County Community College, she began to make the box constructions that would become her signature. In the early 1970s, Baron established a studio and devoted her time and energy completely to her artwork until her death in 1987.