Thursday, October 14, 2010

Art and Artists to Love Right Now


rtists to love right now...

Kahinde Wiley's art is something I first saw while looking through a decor magazine. While I was looking at photos of someone's cool house I noticed this super amazing painting in the dining room that just was so awesome, but the article did not give the artists name. Later I saw his work in Juxtapose and knew it was the same artist. Finally I was able to see a piece in person when the Contemporary Forum donated a painting by Wiley to the Phoenix Art Museum for their 50th anniversary. I LOVE the painting at the Phoenix Art Museum. It's this piece:

In person these works are amazing because Wiley paints in super realist mode which is near perfection. So perfect is the rendering that it almost goes into a phase of hyper-realism. The colors are always vibrant and crazy. The size is usually over-size, and larger than life. His works often reference old master paintings, taking on renaissance styling and modeling that is similar to old portrait sittings. Anyone who has spent time in an art museum looking at the old masters knows that there are two themes - religious iconography and paintings of well to do people of the day. Wiley takes these two ideas and turns them on their head. Then, using the backgrounds of richly textured prints reminiscent of crazy wallpapers or ornate styling, the result are stunning and impactful images of street kids styled in the way you might have seen Louis XIV. Wiley often employs models found directly on the streets of Harlem, or anywhere young black men with strong features and urban style can easily be found. Enjoy:

Aren't they great? With all the classic themes of life and death and immortality, I love this artist.

I've been missing Holden a lot lately and his favorite artist is Shepherd Fairey. Fairey is famous for his Obama image which was used extensively during the presidential campaign. Fairey started as a street artist (though he is classically trained at the Rhode Island School of Design). His sticker campaign "OBEY" using images of Andre the Giant, was, and still is, quite a famous campaign among street artists. Holden loves street art and the ideas of stencil and sticker campaigns. When we visited the National Gallery in DC in 2009 he desperately wanted a huge book of Fairey's work. In retrospect, in spite of the $50 price tag, I wish I would have bought it for him. Holden also loves Warhol, and Fairey definitely takes some cues from Andy W. He plays with powerful imagery born of iconography and popular culture and turns it on it's end. He also often employs illustrative elements which remind a person of communist imagery. The powerful red and black icons of soviet propaganda, done tongue in cheek, while retaining the bold hyperbole of force. Shepherd explores serious ideas while maintaining and underlying sense of humor. Since Holden has been in Bulgaria and exposed to a lot of old soviet imagery, he says he has a lot of new ideas for t-shirt designs when he gets back which he hopes to utilize (holden had a little t shirt business before he left, he came up with all of his own designs and did some of his own silk screening). I would imagine that Fairey has been an inspiration for Holden where he looks for ways to combine those worlds. Here are a few of my favorite Fairey works:

Wouldn't life be boring without art and artists?


calizona said...

This is SO incredible. Wish there would be an exhibit of selections like THIS at the PHX Art Museum.

I would love to see a book featuring the artist's thought process, his methodology (live models like Rockwell did? Or photo references?) and the stories behind choosing the concept, finding the models and what their responses were to the finished piece.

It is really shocking, culturally-speaking, to see the juxtaposition of the old world florals and themes swirling around these classically strong and racially "untouchable" images. You'd think it would be a distraction, or worse - risk offense to a lot of very angry blacks - but I think instead it works, and works in a super intriguing way.


calizona said...

Uh - sorry! I guess I was in such a hurry to look at the paintings that I kind of skipped reading what you wrote until AFTER leaving my stupid comment that not only was mostly unnecessary but actually used the same word as your post did w/o meaning to.

Those dang emotional artists...

Bandanamom said...

I wish I could see one whole exhibit of nothing but Kahinde's work, it would be awesome. Have you seen the one that they have at the Phoenix Art Museum? I love it. They are HUGE paintings that he does.

I was talking to an artist at First Friday earlier in the year and he said that Kahinde had lived in Phoenix for a while. So although he's not technically a local artist, apparently a lot of the downtown artists know him.

I love it when you see an artist do realism with some kind of new twist. Not an easy feat.


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