It is not the first time that Disclaimer Magazine profiles the work of British artist Paul Johnson and although his current abstract exhibition “Teardrop Centre” at the Camden Arts Centre bears little resemblance to his earlier portraiture, there is a common thread running through both.
Photos: Damian Griffiths, Courtesy Camden Arts Centre
Nike Savvas draws heavily from late modernist abstraction, turning the influence of paintings of the 1960s into large-scale three dimensional installations that blur the boundaries between disciplines, genres and materials. The result is an iconography that is only to Savvas.
Seoul-based Xooang Choi is the latest in a strong of hyper-realist artists profiled in this magazine. But if Willy Verginer’s works recently profiled here showed his ultra-realistic subjects were-witness like and devoid of all emotions, Xooang’s are packed with latent feelings of fear, bitterness, anger and frustration.
From the Alpine town of Urtijëi, Italy, sculptor Willy Verginer (born in 1957), creates life-sized sculptures from a single linden tree trunk. His works are ultra-realistic bodies, generally devoid of expression; they are subjects that would be isolated and detached from their surroundings were it not for the bold use of colour which the artist often deploys to make a social or political point.
The loneliness of his hyper-realistic style touches on the surreal is the product of a journey that began when, as a 17 year old, Verginer began his training with local artists in the Gardena Valley, an area which for 400 years has produced religious sculptures and altarpieces that decorate the churches of the Dolomite region.
Paul Maria Schneggenburger is an artist who enjoys playing with time.
Take the newest image from his “Ghosts” series, where a self-made 8" x 10” pinhole camera takes shots of an abandoned bar room over six months. Each day over that period, from dusk till dawn, the camera captures the same scene creating an eery, empty and haunting image in which some elements appear real while others seem like impostors from another world.
Following a successful career in textile design spanning more than three decades, a disillusioned Stephen Wright turned his attention to his "life project" -- the House of Dreams Museum. Occupying the entire ground floor of a terraced house in East Dulwich in South London, the museum is a cavern of multicolour magic, nightmarish at first but, after time, revealing of warmer and more deeply personal emotions of the artist himself.
The Tenebrist works of 17th century Italian and Spanish masters live on through the dark and sometimes disturbing work of Pepjin Simon, the Netherlands-born artist who has only recently started sharing his paintings with the world.
Born in 1967, Simon attended the Fotoacademie Amsterdam, but soon felt constrained by photography and moved towards painting in search of greater artistic expression.
With the black paint of the background still wet, Simon uses old credit cards rather than brushes to craft powerful images, exploring how far he can go in eliminating details from the face without losing recognition. These barely recognisable faces are are born of a clash between realism and abstraction. He applies the white paint to his black backgrounds without sketches or photographs in order to catch the emotions of his subject in that moment. That, says Simon, is how he conveys emotion in his work.
You can buy his work here.
Liz K. Miller, a London-based artist and printmaker, has created a beautiful new visual language for musical scores.
The musical-visual crossover reflects the repetitive patterns in music, mapped as a circular rather than linear score. They are at once practical tools that allow performers to read music and visual works of art made up by concentric patterns that reflect the pulsating rhythms of the music.
You’re never quite sure whether Bruce Ingram’s sculptures are abstract or whether there’s a being or an object that’s just about hidden from us.
Ingram grew up in Falmouth before leaving for art school in Brighton and then studying sculpture at the Royal College in London. Now a denizen of Hackney Wick, Ingram likes to walk around his local area picking up pieces of industrial packaging and other such random objects, assembling them to create these delicate three-dimensional works.
Still, his works aren’t quite urban. They possess a weathered, washed-out quality, as if they had been drenched by the sea and worn down by the strong coastal winds of his youth.
South London-based Lenka Rayn H. rediscovered the bus stops of her native communist Czechoslovakia during a photographic road trip through rural Moravia and northern and central Bohemia. For Rayn, the bus stops capture the Czech Republic’s the post-communist heritage and the regime’s taste for functionalism -- letting practical function and materials dictate aesthetics -- and its desire to appear progressive by using daring structures to show its awareness of contemporary design.
If you were to look for a neat way of describing the work of Beijing-based Miao Xiaochun, you might want to call it something like Cyber-Baroque.
Many of his works draw heavily from old-European masters but they are created entirely in the digital realm, stripping the originals of much of their original narrative substance to replace it with a “more poetic, more dreamy” and 21st century construct.
A re-interpreted ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch is transformed by Miao into ‘Microcosm,’ a work that tackles the inability of humanity to fully understand the nature of existence and goes beyond the Earth, Heaven and Hell narrative of the original masterpiece.
London-based painter, Ireneo Frizzarin, blends abstract with figurative painting and photography and layers the mix with varnishes, explosive colour and chaotic movement to create works that are at once exciting and meditative. He draws from his past in Italy, where the under layers of the works draw memories of childhood — often laced with religious symbolism — and clash with the bold colours and dynamic brushstrokes of the present. With it, Frizzarin aims to show that the past is not fixed and that our memories change with time.
Helsinki-based Tiina Heiska is a contemporary artist who uses photography and movie stills as a sketch-like starting point to create beautiful yet unnerving paintings that are both delicate and troubled. The unpredictability of how materials will respond is what, she says, injects her work with an excitement that reveals the “pleasure and anxiety of watching and being watched.”
London-based contemporary artist Daniela Raytchev is putting the finishing touches to her debut solo show in West London later this month, the purpose of which is to raise awareness about about addictions, the social stigma they carry and the often indelible marks they leave on the human form.
There’s a primitive and raw quality to Thomas Roma’s ‘Mondo Cane’ series of monochrome photographs taken in Dyker Dog Park in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Shadows projected on the rugged dirt surface -- their subjects, local dogs on their daily walk -- are distorted and stretched to make them more imposing and possibly more menacing than the actual animals they represent.
Welcome to the world of M. Oliver and his Westminster Wunderkammer, a closed cabinet that smells like nothing you could imagine. Skeletons long returned to dust, a Narnia not as interesting as the world outside, a cast of sorry souls hanging in a foul fog of their own creation. If there's an opposite to wonder, it's locked up inside this box.
A group of hooded figures stand around a bee hive. A deathly silence seems to shroud the scene, the use of lighting is ethereal, almost sinister. Looking closer one realises that these silent figures are bee-keepers, heads bowed, engrossed in some quasi-religious ritual. These are the paintings that make up a new series of work by John Stark.
“The figures can be read metaphorically as artisans, cult members, or on another level could be seen in a position of power as the puppet masters, politicians or gods in control of worlds,” he says. “I originally found it interesting that bee-keeping was a monastic practice and from there I became fascinated with the imagery and relationship between the monk-like keepers and the hives.”
Chris Sallquist takes fashion photography and, in his words, “mashes" it to create new striking, compositions that are at once disturbing, subtle and provocative.
The images, often taken from fashion magazines, seek to get beneath the glitzy veneer to depict "people caught in intimate moments of vulnerability, shame, lust, anger, pride and peace. Moments we all experience throughout our lives,” he says.
Ahn Sun Mi's conceptual photo collages are surreal self-portraits that invite viewers to reflect on their fragility and the inner landscapes of imagination. Her work inhabits a space somewhere between childhood and adulthood, between dream and reality.
Sun Mi started to use photography to investigate her identity and the distance between her inner self and her appearance. "I wanted to understand myself, [but] at the same time I didn't want to escape reality," says Sun Mi, "I felt like a child inside but who acted like a grown up."
With the goal of establishing a career as a fashion photographer, Sun Mi moved to Paris in 2004 from her native Busan in South Korea to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. Arriving in France became a turning point in Sun Mi's artistic path as she experienced a strong sense of isolation from being a stranger in a new country.
Her work became an artistic laboratory where she questioned life and the passing of time. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes bright and colorful, Sun Mi's interest in philosophy and early passion for animation began to shine through her work. Discovering the work of Rene Magritte gave her the final push to develop her work in the surrealistic direction that it is recognized for today.
Peter Wadsworth’s drawing career started early. He drew incessantly during fourth grade class, to the dismay of his teacher Ms. Burns, who would sneak up behind him and slam her open palm down squarely on his drawing, crumpling it in her fist. Of course, that didn't stop him.
“That's when I began to realise that art could stand as a challenge to authority,” he says.
There is a gentle light that shines through the abstract paintings of Philippe Halaburda like the sort seen during the warm summer mornings at his home near Marseille.
Just as that crystal-clear sunlight of Mediterranean France inspired the works of Picasso and Cezanne before him, Halaburda brings the light to life by setting mainly primary colours against a white, sometimes untouched, canvas. Playful, unpredictable and bold brushstrokes produce an explosion of colour and abstraction against the purity of the white.
At work, Halaburda hovers over each canvas, placed flat on the ground to give him a bird’s eye view as he paints. The works are snapshots of his thoughts and feelings, like maps of his emotions at a given time.
Hannah Habibi Hopkins challenges our projections of identity, undermining preconceived notions of what it is to be a Muslim woman.
With blue eyes and curly red hair, she describes herself as “totally British.” She converted to Islam almost ten years ago, following a gradual contact with the religion through Islamic art, and friendships and relationships she built while growing up in South London.
When asked if Islam is incompatible with British culture, her answer is an emphatic no. “Islam is all about tolerance and fairness and justice and those are such key British characteristics. We're bombarded by negative images of Islam, I get it, it's sensationalism and it sells, but the Muslim principles of mercy and forgiveness and redemption, these are definitely common things in British culture.”
Paul Johnson is a London-based artist who describes his work as “fiction”. Johnson develops his works as intricately assembled paper ‘mosaics’. The images he works from are cut into jigsaw-like pieces, “each element is hand-cut, hand coloured and then interlocked back into itself,” Johnson explains.