Philip Guston ('ust' pronounced like "rust"), born Phillip Goldstein (June 27, 1913 – June 7, 1980), was a Canadian American painter, printmaker, muralist and draughtsman. Early in his five decade career, muralist David Siquieros described him as one of "the most promising painters in either the US or Mexico," in reference to his antifascist fresco The Struggle Against Terror, which "includes the hooded figures that became a lifelong symbol of bigotry for the artist." "Guston worked in a number of artistic modes, from Renaissance-inspired figuration to formally accomplished abstraction," and is now regarded one of the "most important, powerful, and influential American painters of the last 100 years." He also frequently depicted racism, antisemitism, fascism and American identity, as well as, especially in his later most cartoonish and mocking work, the banality of evil. In 2013, Guston's painting To Fellini set an auction record at Christie's when it sold for $25.8 million.
Artist Daniel Steck works in monotype prints that have a lyric fluidity and playfulness that transcend its boundaries. Working with the thickness and flexibility of inks and paper, Steck will create prints followed by ghost prints where no further ink is applied.
Some very colorful, others in shades of black, white and grey, one thing is consistent - the energy, complexity and cohesiveness of the design gives all of his work a dinstinctive form and grace.
Viktor Koen is a surrealist whose quirky and compelling constructions mezmerize and disturb. Take, for example his "Dark Peculiar Toys" which is an assembly experiment pitting the philosophies of
what a toy is and is supposed to do, differ and collide. These
collisions deface, brake or de-construct the toys into piles of raw
materials, waiting to be re-constructed in alternative ways, without
instructions or the memory of their origins and function. Especially
without consideration for their original creators intentions. Curiously
they brake down not only to their essential parts but to details of
character and spirit - if they ever possessed any. They only retain
colors, shapes and the scars inflicted by their previous owners. Scars
that separate them from their assembly line identical multiples and make
them one of the kind.
These tragic action figures are trapped between their new condition and
the reality of their past. They link older and contemporary prototypes
of heroism or role playing, by combining traditional symbols in
unorthodox ways. Their appeal lies solely in the tendency children (of
any age) have to cannibalize existing objects in order to fuse their
own. These creations come at odds with their carefully planed origins
and brake gender and age molds by defying children experts, focus groups
and sales projections. The newly assembled toys, though somewhat
dramatic and traumatic due to their darkness, evoke our emotions and
form a connection with us, by taking a place in our personal memories.
Not in a "lost childhood blah, blah, blah" way - but as images that
communicate nostalgia and joy, or the nostalgia of joy.
These emotions also dominated the process of putting them together. I
photographed toys and objects that I collected through the years and
travels, some of them parts of my personal childhood, and then mixed and
matched them for hours. While this was a different form of play, the
magic was the same.
Viktor Koen holds a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in
Jerusalem, Israel and an MFA with honors from the School of Visual Arts
in New York City. Mr. Koen serves on the faculty of the MFA
Illustration program and the BFA Graphic Design Department at SVA.
Stan Ragets could almost be considered a "new age" or metaphysical artist. That is because his work is mezmerizing and mysterious, using fractiles with almost a mathematical bent.
Fractal artwork in the “fine art” sense is relatively unheard of at the current time, and Ragets' goal to eventually make it a household term. Of course, for those who enjoy Escher, Raget's work will resonate.
He says, "Art is something that I've always enjoyed; not just the creative process, but also viewing the final results. I strive to create artwork that you can 'get lost in', pieces that can be viewed over and over again, always finding something new. I want to create engaging artwork that pulls you into the image.
My computer programming background allows me to design my own custom parameters that give me a unique edge among fractal artists. I constantly strive to push the limits of current technology and am always learning as new developments take place. As technology grows, so do I as an artist."
There is something about Toronto-based artist Ray Caesar and his charming yet eery prints. Caesar has a painterly approach, rendering imagery with soft edges and movement. The artist’s digitally created dreamscapes, set in elaborately furnished Rococo-style interiors, feature haunting doll-like female figures with delicate features and porcelain complexions. The hybrid characters, part-child-part-woman, some sprouting tails, tentacles and other animal appendages, all wear elaborate costumes that reference fashions of the past and often incorporate futuristic elements as well.
Caesar works in Maya (a 3D modeling software used for digital animation effects in film and game industries), using it to create his figures as well as the virtual realms in which they exist. Through the program, he builds digital models with invisible skeletons and anatomical joints that can be bent and manipulated to assume any pose. He wraps the models in rich textures, adding hair, skin, eyelashes and fingernails. Then places them in digitally lit, impeccably detailed 3D environments built with architectural layers, windows, wallpapers, curtains and furnishings. Caesar’s meticulous process incorporates elements of drawing, painting, collage and sculpture, working countless hours to achieve every remarkably intricate tableau. Further emphasizing his sculptural technique, Caesar compares his process of 2D printmaking with imagery created in 3D as being similar to the practice of capturing stills from video and film.
With full control over dressing, posing and lighting his figures as well as every element of their surroundings, Caesar’s craft is an advanced extension of a childhood obsession—playing with dolls. Fantasy, escapism, human cruelty and disguise are reoccurring themes explored within his dramatic narratives. Betraying the seemingly child-like innocence of the figures is their piercing, knowing gaze—exposing inner strength in contrast with their fragile physical appearance. Dark details manifest from deep within the artist’s vast imagination to define simulated realities, transporting the viewer into sanctuaries created for his lost ghost-children who emerge from shadows into safe refuge, carrying macabre secrets and hidden truths.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ray Caesar was born in 1958 in London. At an early age, his family moved to Toronto, Canada, where he currently resides. From 1977—80 he attended Ontario College of Art, followed by 17 years from 1980—96 working in the art & photography department of the Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, documenting disturbing cases of child abuse, surgical reconstruction, psychology, and animal research. Coupled with inspiration from surrealists Kahlo and Dali, Caesar’s experiences at the hospital continue to influence his artwork. His haunting imagery is created digitally using 3D modeling software called Maya, mastered while working in digital animation for television and film industries from 1998—2001. In 1999, Caesar received a Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Special Effects in a series.
Chris Ofili works in painting, sculpture, printmaking, and graphite drawing. Begun in 2004, while Ofili was still living in London, his most recent work, the Afro Margin series, continued after he moved to Trinidad in 2005, and was finally completed in 2007. Known primarily for his bold, large-scale paintings, these intimate drawings reveal Ofili to be a master draughtsman. In this exquisite series, Ofili employs his distinguished “afro heads,” a signature motif he began working with in the early 1990s. Here the “margin” — created by darkened “afro heads” piled vertically into columns and varying in size — suggests gothic towers and aboriginal totems.
With each work, Ofili started by consciously considering the width of the column, discovering and breaking the tension of the blank page. As the series progressed, conceptions of blackness also figured as a way to understand the margin. Moving transformed this idea, as he left a metropolitan center — London — for a place on the fringe of cultural activity — Trinidad. Formally, however, the series was not affected by the changes in the landscape. Unlike much of his other work, he tried to confine the relationship to the structure of the idea. As Cameron Shaw states in the catalogue essay, “Ultimately, the significance is in the arrangement . . . Like an automatic drawing, notebook doodle, or physical meditation, his intention was to disappear into the action, while simply maintaining awareness of its natural direction.”
Chris Ofili was born in 1968 in Manchester, England, and currently lives in Trinidad. He was the recipient of the 1998 Turner Prize, and his recent solo exhibitions include Devil’s Pie, David Zwirner, New York (2007); The Blue Rider Extended Remix, kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (2006); The Upper Room, Tate Britain, London, England (2005); Afro Muses, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2005); and Within Reach, British Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2003).
In October, Rizzoli will publish the first major monograph on the artist. The book encompasses Ofili’s entire oeuvre, and includes over 200 color images. The book includes a foreword by Peter Doig, an interview between the artist and Thelma Golden, and essays by others, including David Adjaye on The Upper Room, Okwui Enwezor on Within Reach, Carol Becker on The Holy Virgin Mary; and short texts by Kara Walker and Cameron Shaw.
Pictured above: Afro Margin Four, 2004, pencil on paper, 40.16 x 26.46 inches, 102 x 67.2 cm
Eric and Heather Chanschatz are New York City based artists who have teamed up in a novel way to create a giddy and vibrant look to their prints. The two artists Eric Chan and Heather Schatz scramble their names into a tidy corporate unit and have been a collaborative team for nearly 25 years. And their work coincides with a number of themes floating through art at present: the use of systems, especially digitally based; the overlap of the organic and the artificial, and the fine line between art and commerce. (Mr. Chan and Ms. Schatz routinely solicit corporations to donate materials for their work.) Their recent work is offered through the Saatchi Gallery webaite.
Joel Beckwith is a contemporary American etcher who studied art under Thomas Cornell at Bowdoin College and graduated in 1971.
Since that time he has exhibited his art with such institutions and organizations as the Society of American Graphic Artists, the Boston Printmakers, Philadelphia Print Club, Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Design. Joel Beckwith's etched art has received many awards such as, the Stratton Art Festival 1997 Fellowship, the George Bunker Museum Purchase Award (Philadelphia Print Club) and the Daniel Chester French Medal of Excellence.
Today his etchings are included in the following collections; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Boston Public Library, Hunterdon Art Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame, State University of New York, Albany, and Purdue University.
David Itchkawich is best known for his etchings which are intricate surrealistic scenes of worlds that are at once familiar and old fashioned but also timeless and fascinating. Here are some examples of his work through the Elaine Beckwith Gallery.
Since settling in Maine, David has been getting back to drawing. His local scenes of empty streets evoke the same haunting and nostalgic environment as his lithographs.
"Waiting for Godog"