Eric Basstein. Turning collage sketches into mesmerizing paintings. October 31, 2017 – Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you. I’m Eric a 36 year old from The Netherlands. I live in Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands. It’s the 5th biggest city in The Netherlands with lot’s of high tech... read more
INVESTIGATING FEMININITY, HANDIEDAN TIME TRAVELS TO ‘THE FOURTH DIMENSION’ BY JAMIE MALESZKA Dutch artist Handiedan’s muses revel not in earthly delights. Instead, her re-imagined pin-up girls prevail on the curiosities of Quantum Physics and the mysteries of Sacred Geometries and Cosmology. Theirs is a game of complexity, not coquetry. Handiedan draws on both digitally created and found components... read more
We’re excited to release a limited edition print by Handiedan in conjunction with her debut solo exhibition at the gallery, The Fourth Dimension: Time. Dutch-artist Handiedan pushes the boundaries of mixed-media work by creating collage based reliefs of classic female pin-ups using both digitally created and found components. Deeply influenced by scientific and spiritual interests –... read more
Stoney Creek artist Josh Tiessen showcases his creative process in YouTube video for Occidental Babylon Stoney Creek artist Josh Tiessen is giving art enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at his creative process in a new YouTube video. The video features Photoshop time-lapse and speed painting of Tiessen’s largest oil painting to date, Occidental Babylon. Featuring spotted... read more
Kevin Cyr Documents Working-Class Vehicles in ‘Labor Day’ By Andy Smith In a new collection of paintings and drawings, Kevin Cyr pays tribute to the working class via worn vehicles spotted and documented around New York City. “Labor Day” at Jonathan Levine Projects in New Jersey progresses the artist’s love affair with the concept of what vehicles... read more
East Coast Curator Jonathan LeVine Brings an All-Star Lineup to Heron Arts BY SHAYNA YASUHARA Heron Arts has invited East Coaster Jonathan LeVine to guest curate their upcoming “East Looks West” art show, opening this Saturday. The show is a celebration of two coasts interconnected stylistically, digitally and by the artists themselves—many who are west... read more
INTERVIEW WITH HANDIEDAN + THE FOURTH DIMENSION: TIME @ JONATHAN LEVINE PROJECTS By Kylie Dexter Complex and detailed collages with pop culture vintage beauties, fiercely independent and submerged in earthy colours, are the best way for me to describe Handiedan’s works. Tiny fragments that create a visual narrative that is nostalgic, with touches of dark... read more
Delusional – 1st Annual Juried Group Exhibition Winners Words by Nicole Gordon and Photos by @just_a_spectator and Penn Eastburn August 9th was a great night for all, especially the 42 artists selected as winners of Delusional: Jonathan LeVine’s Search for the Next Great Artist. It was the gallery’s first annual juried exhibition. We know there... read more
JEREMY FISH TALKS ART, SAN FRANCISCO, AND HIS NEW COLLABORATION WITH ABSOLUTEXTRACTS Jeremy Fish and AbsoluteXtracts have teamed up for a new cannabis vape pen, which features Fish’s artwork and a particular strain and flavor of oil curated by Fish as well. Check out the video to hear Fish talk about his connection to San... read more
Jonathan LeVine Projects Announced as North Jersey Indie Rock Fest Sponsor N.J. Racket is beyond honored to announce that Jersey City’s own Jonathan LeVine Projects will be a sponsor of Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids’ Second Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival. Owner and proprietor Jonathan LeVine is known internationally as one of... read more
JONATHAN LEVINE PROJECTS’ SELECTION FOR URBAN ART FAIR NYC Jonathan LeVine Projects has put on an impressive selection for Urban Art Fair New York in booth 6.02. Their exhibit features work by Augustine Kofie, DALeast, Dan Witz, EVOL, Faith47 and Prefab77. Also on view will be a selection of twenty limited edition prints by an... read more
Eric Basstein. Turning collage sketches into mesmerizing paintings.
October 31, 2017
– Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.
I’m Eric a 36 year old from The Netherlands. I live in Eindhoven, a city in the south of the Netherlands. It’s the 5th biggest city in The Netherlands with lot’s of high tech and design industry. Since a kid i’m interested in drawing and music. I’ve tried to combine those two as much as i can. There were fases that music was more present then art and the other way around. After more then ten years as a dj i desided to focus on my art. I didn’t want to lose my history in music and that’s how i came up with the idea of sampling art just like producers do with music. Just like a producer samples parts from other songs i try to do that with existing images. I sample them into a collage and use that as the sketch for my paintings.
– You paint collages… How did you arrive to do blend these techniques in your own style?
I made some collages when i was in art school and always had the idea of transforming them into a painting. So when i had the the idea of sampling the collages made sense to use. I always start off going trough books and magazines without any idea in mind. The trick is not to search for things. I think if you are searching for something it’s hard to find it and also you are controlling to much. I just flip pages and if i see some i like i cut it out. After that it becomes a puzzle. I try so find the right balance between colours and shapes.
– How did music inform and influence your art?
When i paint i’m always listening to music. Most of the time it’s in the same way like i used to build up my own dj sets. So i start the day with some soundscape or ambient stuff, after that it’s mostly jazz and hip hop and at the end of the day it’s time to bounce it of with some house music. I’m not sure if music also influences the image itself, mostly my mood i guess.
– How is your workflow? Is collage anyway involved?
Every painting starts with a collage. Sometimes i make multiple collages and pick the best one. Then i transfer the collage on to the canvas. When most of the collage is painted i look for parts that need to be changed. This can mean that i change a colour or shape. Most of the time i really stick to the collage. The last step is the background.
– What´s not enough in a collage that you need to use paint to achieve your goals? What gets lost in the translation from collage to paint?
I like to work pretty big so that’s the first “problem” with a collage. Also i’m a painter, it’s something that i want and need to do. After a couple day’s off i always feel the need to paint. I think that the translation from collage to a painting makes the image even stronger. With a collage it are all sharp pictures. It all has the same look and feel and the same quality. When it’s painted there’s more to see, the structure, the imperfections. The balance get’s more interesting.
– In the era of immediacy, the idea of turning something quite simple and fast (collage) into something more complex and time consuming (painting) seems really interesting and defying. Is there a sociopolitical comment in there? Do you feel your work process has a message on itself?
Never thought about it like that, but you are right about the time process. I do think that people should take more time for things. Lot’s of people go to fast just to get it out as quick as possible to get likes etc. We check out phones every 15 minutes, need a new Netflix serie at least every month. I do like to take time, see something evolve, enjoy the process. I must say it took time for me to get more patience. In the beginning i wanted a painting to be finished in a week. After that it became two or three weeks. Now i’m not thinking of time as much but more in result.
– What´s your definition of collage and how your work fits into that definition?
For me the collage is a tool, a sketch. They don’t need to be perfect. I don’t glue them or use the best papier etc. Sometimes i recycle collages that i used before. Strip parts that i like and use them for a new collage.
– Have you ever exhibited paper collage?
No, never did that, but thinking to do so in the future. Exhibit them together with my paintings to have a bigger body of work.
INVESTIGATING FEMININITY, HANDIEDAN TIME TRAVELS TO ‘THE FOURTH DIMENSION’
BY JAMIE MALESZKA
Dutch artist Handiedan’s muses revel not in earthly delights. Instead, her re-imagined pin-up girls prevail on the curiosities of Quantum Physics and the mysteries of Sacred Geometries and Cosmology. Theirs is a game of complexity, not coquetry.
Handiedan draws on both digitally created and found components to assemble her highly- elaborate collage-based reliefs. These pin-ups are three-dimensional in every sense. Using the cut-and-paste method of re-assemblage, the artist painstakingly incorporates layer upon layer of material to raise the surfaces of the work, giving it a sculptural appeal.
Unfettered by any particular epoch of time, Handiedan also borrows across historical styles—from the Baroque to the Victorian to the post-war eras—and re-purposes what she finds. She culls an array of printed ephemera, planetary charts, international currencies, playing cards, seals, maps and vintage magazine images. The result: symbol-soaked compositions that read as part meditation, part diary entry, part cosmic puzzle.
Jonathan LeVine Projects, now housed at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, has recently unveiled The Fourth Dimension: Time, Handiedan’s latest exhibition, and her debut solo show at the gallery. The new body of work continues on the artist’s signature trajectory of jaw-dropping sophistication and detail.
Handiedan is truly a one of one. MASS APPEAL linked up with the artist to learn more.
Let’s jump right into the power of the female gaze. The pieces are decidedly evocative and sexual, but also reverberate with intelligent. It’s not just pouty lips and rouged cheeks and curves. These women are also brandishing brains and spirit, and seemingly, are contemplating the sacred.
Yeah, there you go. The material that I use is actually the whole pinup thing. And I only use the old pinups because they are also a bit funny, like, “Oops, there goes my skirt!”Because back then that was super sexy, and now it’s like … not seen as risqué. And it’s also aesthetic. It’s part of culture, and shows how things change
What’s allowed, what’s not allowed.
Yes. I use the material, as almost the basis, and then I create something with more depth.
Who are these women to you?
Muses. But it’s also me, and also it’s personal. Or my love life, or maybe an imaginary person. But in the end, they represent an energy of strength and vulnerability. They also represent motion and time and change. You can see time, the passage of time, with the different poses in some of them. I studied photography. I love it when you have film stills and you put them on top of each other – to show action, by putting negatives on top of each other.
Aside from photography, what other practices have influenced you? What helped create your aesthetic?
I think it’s my curiosity. I think it’s natural. I always drew naturally, so I wanted to study, I wanted to got to art school, to learn something different. So, I did photography. Then I learned to work with computers and layers. And I noticed I always wanted to draw over the pictures. I started to find out that just one direction isn’t enough for me. I need to add something. So, I have this beautiful image, but what happens if I tear it apart and put it upside down? I think it’s a certain curiosity to refuel an existing image, or an image that has lived another life because of the old materials used. So, slowly, step by step, I thought, this is actually kind of cool.
What actually happened is that I had a little operation in 2006? Maybe ’07? It was not so serious, but I couldn’t move that much. My leg was not good for six weeks. But, I could work, so I canceled my freelance jobs and I was just, “Let’s put everything together I find fascinating.” That’s how it happened. This all started – and then I got this great response from people.
And still, if you ask me, “What is it?” I don’t know. But, I also I don’t wanna know. Because I have to think, if I know what it is, maybe I cannot create it anymore. It really is intuitive. When I’m in the flow and creating and then I finish, I sometimes step back and I think, “Oh, this is interesting, how did I do this?” It’s like I’m looking at it with almost new eyes.
A poet said to me recently, “Don’t write the poem that you want to write. Write the poem that wants to be written.” When you begin work on a new piece, do you have a finished image in mind?
No. Not at all.
The piece tells you where it’s going?
Yes. Exactly. Gives direction.
From where are you sourcing all the different components?
I collect and people send me stuff, like notes and centerfolds, and that’s awesome because those are really hard to find in Europe. There’s also the web.
Once you’re in the flow and creating, does the actual act of “making” become meditative?
Yes, definitely. Definitely. It takes a long time. First I do everything digitally, and then print it out. It’s definitely meditation. And sometimes when I’m restless and I’m in a rush and I need to continue a piece and work on it every day, the process forces me to calm down, because I cannot cut faster than I can. So then it’s like, this really interesting …Sometimes even a little bit of an internal fight, because you are like, “I want to do this or that,” and you have all these ideas, and it makes you slow down and say, “Okay. Just these.”
Your pieces have a sculptural component to them. The show’s title The Fourth Dimension: Time reminds me of a theater term—“breaking the fourth wall.” It’s as if the work is “breaking the fourth wall” of the picture frame and reaching across the divide to the viewer.
Yeah. Oh, that’s beautiful. I love that. Yeah, it’s definitely… The fourth dimension of time, for me, is also the way of working, the process of working. It can be fast, but also slow. It’s space and time. And in the fourth dimension, things can travel through time. So it’s time travel too, the ability to go back and forth.
And the analog and digital techniques you use further that time travel notion.
Yes. It’s always a combination. And absolutely, the materials are all literally from different times.
And in the work, you’ve almost created your own time.
Yeah! Like some little bubble somewhere. Its own special universe.
On average, how much time is spent creating a piece?
The designing of the image usually goes really fast, but it’ll be a long day. Maybe, sometimes in one day, I’ll have the image, and then the whole montage thing would take a couple of days, depending, maybe a week. I start in the morning, and then work through the night. Really, the whole image, the design of the image is really short. The whole cutting process will vary. On the smaller pieces, full-time, maybe two to three weeks of cutting. For the large pieces, closer to one and a half months.
What has the work taught you along the way?
It’s an interesting question. I’ve learned a lot about myself. And again, still, I don’t know actually why I do this. In the first years, I was really unsure and insecure about it, and I questioned everything. And still, now, I don’t know why I do it. But it just … this (motioning to the work) happens. So maybe I’m like this portal, I don’t know. This happened, and it has developed. And I’m really grateful fo it. I’ve learned that I’m a collector and I have a really big eye for details and overview. Sometimes people step in my studio and they think it’s all paper and stuff, a lot of material. They might see it all as chaos. But, I see the structure. And (Laughs) I’m not afraid of losing stuff.
You are not particularly precious about every little detail?
No. I am really good at letting go. Of course, sometimes I paste something or I lose something and then I think, “Where is it?” And then I think, “Oh, that’s just meant to be.” So I try to really let go.
I mean there are so many possibilities to pursue. But I created this sort of framework that I can work within, where I can go crazy. But, there is still this framework with some rules. Rules with ornaments and the pinups and the use of currency, and of course new items come in, but I have this space. And that’s really safe for me to go crazy.
Would you describe this show as being your most personal work yet?
On one hand, yes. But on the other hand, it’s symbolic. My other pieces were also really … All my pieces are personal, of course. But now it was a little more… touchable for me. If you see the pieces from other shows, they are also really personal, but in a different way. I was more working as a scientist, and now it’s more … this is emotional.
We’re excited to release a limited edition print by Handiedan in conjunction with her debut solo exhibition at the gallery, The Fourth Dimension: Time.
Dutch-artist Handiedan pushes the boundaries of mixed-media work by creating collage based reliefs of classic female pin-ups using both digitally created and found components. Deeply influenced by scientific and spiritual interests – from Quantum Physics, Cosmology and Numerology to Sacred Geometries, Metaphysics and Eastern Philosophies – each work is a treasure trove of symbols that embrace the various forms of vital energy permeating the universe and mirror the eternal motion of life.
Stoney Creek artist Josh Tiessen showcases his creative process in YouTube video for Occidental Babylon
Stoney Creek artist Josh Tiessen is giving art enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at his creative process in a new YouTube video.
The video features Photoshop time-lapse and speed painting of Tiessen’s largest oil painting to date, Occidental Babylon.
Featuring spotted hyenas from Sub-Saharan Africa juxtaposed on a Wild West scene, Occidental Babylon was inspired by the California Gold Rush town of Bodie, famous for its saloon brawls, stagecoach robberies and weekly shootouts.
Beginning in 1848, $34 million in gold was extracted from local mines, but by the 1880s, the town was in decline. In 1932, Bodie’s weather-beaten buildings were razed in a catastrophic fire.
Occidental Babylon took Tiessen 1,200 hours over eight months to complete.
Tiessen explains his rationale for Occidental Babylon in a passage on his website.
Spotted hyenas reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, so it’s logical to wonder why a pack of thirteen hyenas are roaming through a western town! Hyenas are carrion scavengers, able to break down bone with their strong teeth and jaws, extracting as much marrow nutrient as possible. Traditionally, the hyena has been a symbol for the unstable or sinister, and in some African cultures it is viewed as a grave robber. The Lion King’s hyena trio: Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed, entrenched character traits of savagery and cowardice in pop culture. For me, the concept of hyenas inhabiting an immoral western town came from Isaiah’s prophecy of judgment concerning Babylon, stating that desert creatures such as hyenas would one day inhabit its strongholds, a symbolic picture of how Babylon, the world’s greatest city, would be laid to waste by the Persian Empire.
Kevin Cyr Documents Working-Class Vehicles in ‘Labor Day’
By Andy Smith
In a new collection of paintings and drawings, Kevin Cyr pays tribute to the working class via worn vehicles spotted and documented around New York City. “Labor Day” at Jonathan Levine Projects in New Jersey progresses the artist’s love affair with the concept of what vehicles say about the people who drive them. Cyr first appeared in the pages of this magazine in Hi-Fructose Vol. 10, and he’s part of the “Turn the Page: The First 10 Years of Hi-Fructose” exhibit, currently at Crocker Art Museum.
“In a culture in which people are easily lured by the appeal of status-enhancing symbols, Cyr finds beauty in derelict cars,” a statement says. “With a devoted attention to detail, he paints old vehicles—primarily vans and commercial trucks—covered in graffiti, rust, scratches, scuffs, dents and other marks of distinction. By meticulously illustrating every imperfection and sign of age, Cyr’s work serves as a documentation of time, place and the evolution of the American landscape.”
East Coast Curator Jonathan LeVine Brings an All-Star Lineup to Heron Arts
BY SHAYNA YASUHARA
Heron Arts has invited East Coaster Jonathan LeVine to guest curate their upcoming “East Looks West” art show, opening this Saturday. The show is a celebration of two coasts interconnected stylistically, digitally and by the artists themselves—many who are west coast natives and transplants alike.
The lineup on this show is pretty nuts. Highlighting one or two top artists from this list would be a disservice because pretty much each of these artists could pack a room on their own. So, here is the list in full: AJ Fosik, Anthony Ausgang, Augustine Kofie, Ben Venom, Brett Amory, Camille Rose Garcia, Carlos Ramirez, Christian Clayton, Cryptik, David Choong Lee, Gary Baseman, Isabel Samaras, Jeffrey Gillette, Jeremy Fish, Josh Agle (Shag), Mario Martinez (Mars-1), Seonna Hong, Shepard Fairey, Souther Salazar, Tim Biskup and Tristan Eaton.
Jonathan Levine has taken aesthetic cues from underground music and punk culture, and his selection of celebrated artists has made him a standout contemporary art curator to watch. He officially put himself on the contemporary art map when he opened up Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York City back in 2005.
In 2017, the gallery was relocated to Jersey City and now goes by Jonathan LeVine Projects. The new location is part of Mana Contemporary, an arts organization that LeVine has teamed up with to expand past the gallery walls and out into new territories, including public murals and pop-up exhibitions.
In anticipation of this show, we wanted to find out more for Jonathan LeVine on the accessibility of visual art in the digital age and collaborating with Heron Arts.
How did you get in touch with Heron Arts?
I know Director Tova Lobatz from her days with White Walls Gallery and Noah Antieau from his Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans. We are part of a tight-knit art community that revolves around the type of artwork championed in Hi-Fructose and Juxtapoz Magazine. Late last year, Noah invited me out to curate a show at Heron Arts and thus our conversation began.
Do you plan to do more projects out on the west coast?
I would like to do more projects on the west coast and specifically with Heron Arts in SF. This our first time working together but we have talked about other future projects.
What do you look for when considering new artists to work with?
First and foremost, I have to like the work. It has to speak to me and get me excited. I am typically looking for something new, something that I haven’t seen before. I look for consistency in the work and professionalism on the part of the artist. These days I typically work with mid-career artists but I still pick up some emerging artists as well. I like to keep my program interesting.
Any trends within the art world you are seeing?
It is hard to read trend these days because social media has created this abundance of art to look at, and as a result, you can’t really pinpoint a movement happening. If anything, the trend is art moving from being on walls to being online and being greatly accessible to the general public. As a result, I think the average person is engaged more with the visual arts than they used to be.
Heron Arts & Jonathan LeVine Projects Present: “East Looking West” Opening Reception at Heron Arts Saturday, September 16, 7-10pm
INTERVIEW WITH HANDIEDAN + THE FOURTH DIMENSION: TIME @ JONATHAN LEVINE PROJECTS
By Kylie Dexter
Complex and detailed collages with pop culture vintage beauties, fiercely independent and submerged in earthy colours, are the best way for me to describe Handiedan’s works. Tiny fragments that create a visual narrative that is nostalgic, with touches of dark vestiges. As the viewer, we stand back away from a piece and we don’t see snippets and scraps, these are images made from fractured parts of something that once had another life, on a different page.
I spoke with Handiedan about her incredible upcoming exhibition at Jonathan LeVine Projects opening on October 14, 2017. ‘The fourth dimension: Time’ is Handiedan’s most personal show to date and comprises a selection of new works sharing the artist’s complex experience of passing and evolving through time.
‘The fourth dimension: Time’ is Handiedan’s most personal show to date and comprises a selection of new works sharing the artist’s complex experience of passing and evolving through time. Handiedan’s collaged bas-reliefs give visual form to the wonderings, memories, visions and unconscious associations stemming from it.
Deeply influenced by scientific and spiritual interests – from Quantum Physics, Cosmology and Numerology to Sacred Geometries, Metaphysics and Eastern Philosophies – her art embraces the various forms of vital energy endlessly permeating the universe and mirrors the eternal motion of life in its kaleidoscopic manifestations.
Recently Handiedan has focused on the Fourth dimension of spacetime as a privileged standpoint from where this perpetual and ever changing flow can be deeply perceived as a continuum.
Protagonists of the works are the iconic pin-ups clearly inspired by the burlesque universe. The artist digitally composes their bodies by assembling anatomical parts of different pre-existing pin-up images from the 1920-1940s, transforming them into images reminiscent of the Neo-Classical and Victorian ages, the Parisian Belle Époque, up to the 1940’s and Post-War sexy imagery.
With luscious liveliness their forms bend in and out the background to personify Handiedan’s investigation in femininity. They stand for the Lover and the Mother, embodying sexual freeing and tender love, strength and vulnerability. At once mistresses and goddesses, these creatures are endowed with a symbolic power that can be traced down to the archetype of Mother Earth (or Mother Nature) in which all ancient cultures identified the natural course of the circle of life with its transitory stages of birth, change, decay and renewal. Other recurrent images in the work refer to this: the skull, traditionally a visual reminder of death, and the butterfly, a living example of transformation and evolution.
Handiedan is always inspired by the the Golden Ratio, also known as divine proportion, whose presence in all realms from quantum levels to the eternal motion of planets and galaxies is proof of a universal law connecting everything. The pin-ups inhabit a visual world filled with Fibonacci spirals, fractal patterns, planetary charts and the sacred geometric form of the Flower of Life, all scientifically or symbolically representing the universal harmony ruling nature and life.
The pen drawings and doodles ‘tattooed’ on the bodies and in the background, like her cartoon-like alter ego, Amėlie, stand for Handiedan’s personal involvement in this energy flow. The background also incorporates ornamental details like old currencies, stamps, music sheets, share certificates, science maps, playing cards and cigar bands collected from Handiedan’s travels around the world and filled with hidden personal meanings. The vintage aspect of the items suggests their own hidden stories and the artworks release an evocative power both on a personal level and from a cultural point of view, ideally traveling through real and symbolic places distant in time and space.
Handiedan gathers all those visual fragments that trigger her own personal associations and digitally combines them on the computer following a fast-paced intuitive drive. The creative process shifts into a more meditative slow-paced stage as she assembles the printed layers of paper with refined craftsmanship. Each detail is printed on multiple sheets of paper that are masterfully hand-cut and carefully pasted over to reach a sculpted quality. The found collage material is also weaved and patiently pasted through the layers. While the collage technique naturally lends itself to the combination of the most diverse elements, the multi-layered depth gives material shape to the fourth dimension and enables to fully experience the interconnectedness of everything. As a result, Handiedan’s art carries an organic unity and the visual motifs used by the artist harmonically coexist into a single yet richly complex experience that instantly strikes for its exuberant liveliness while the countless details scattered all over ask for the gaze to slowly wander and linger around it.
Firstly, in the unlikely event our followers may not know your work, can you tell us a little about your process and how you create your amazing pieces?
There are two phases in creating my collages. My creations are a complex layered ‘cut and paste’ mixture of both digitally and hand cut paper collages and found material.
The first phase consists in digitally put together the found imagery. Classic pin-up body parts over a backdrop of baroque and Victorian designs, culled out of international currency, old music sheets, insurance and share certificates, science and solar system maps and my own pen-drawn character and doodles.
This digital design is the basis for a series of hand cut collages.
The second phase entails re-building the basic design through multiple printing and ‘weaving’ original collage material with the printed paper layers. This again could be culled from international currencies and stamps, antique sheet music ornaments, playing cards, cigar bands, Asian newspapers, science maps, share certificates and whatever fits.
I keep collaging till the artwork stands out in a relief of paper layers, almost three-dimensional. Then I add some final touches through sketching and doodling on the piece and finally I mount the collage on a carefully selected ornamental frame “mostly antique” that becomes part of the artwork itself.
I am loving where we are headed in the art/VR movement. I know you recently worked on a VR project titled ‘Handria’. This is whole new way to create, can you tell us more about this project and what was involved to create Handria?
Yes, thank you! I’m super excited about this development and movement and even more excited by being able to explore the possibilities of it. A great inspiration.
Last summer I was invited by RIOSD to be part of their VR project and to create a Handiedan’s collage universe in VR with the Tiltbrush software. I went ‘underground’ for 55 hours into VR, creating a 3D virtual collage art & drawings universe, named Handria.
‘Handria’ has been presented by the RIOSD team at Edinburgh Fringe, Future Play Festival, that started the 3rd of August and runs till the 26th and I can’t wait to show you more in the near future, when I’ll be traveling to the US.
I’m excited for your solo show and to see your new mixed media hand cut collages at Jonathan LeVine Projects, in October. How is the preparation going for that show? Are you able to share any of the pieces or the theme with us yet?
The preparations are going very well and I’m super excited to show you the new art. The theme and show title is ‘The fourth dimension: Time’. It will be my most personal show to date and comprises a selection of new works sharing my complex experience of passing and evolving through time.
It’ll be influenced by my scientific and spiritual interests – from Quantum Physics, Cosmology and Numerology to Sacred Geometries, Metaphysics and Eastern Philosophies.
So many hours are spent creating your works, what’s a day in the studio like for you? How do you keep yourself entertained while creating the collages?
I tend to keep it like a regular work with weekdays and try to keep up a healthy rhythm: 7-9 hours a day, 5 days a week. I listen to music, audio books, documentaries, movies, have a good walk or lunch break on the side of a canal, and watch the boats passing by.
Your vintage pin-ups feature predominantly throughout your work, where did your initial interest start, and what/who are your inspirations?
My strong fascination for all different kinds of old and vintage graphic material inspired me to start collecting and combine this imagery into one strong image. I’m always inspired by the (photo) graphic, collage and cartoon world.
There are so many hidden symbols and meanings in your pieces, you can spend a lot of time viewing those details scattered throughout the background, I would love if you would elaborate on these patterns and symbols and why they are important to you?
Symbols teach you a lot about life, they tell the story of life and elaborate hidden stories that can’t be explained literally. Examples of symbols that are strong subjects in my new work are the skull, the butterfly and the golden ratio. All of them refer to ideas of rebirth, growth, transformation, the eternal motion of life, energy, time, everything is (part of) the same all.
I can’t finish without talking about your large scale murals, which are mind blowing and often in the perfect surroundings, featured on stunning buildings! How do you begin the process for these works? What’s the hardest part about creating these walls?
After I receive the exact wall dimensions, I digitally design the piece for the wall. Bringing my pieces outdoors is not just an enlargement and just pasting paper on a wall, but it feels as an extension of my art. I want to integrate and fuse the image with the building. The building has to suite the image and vice versa. They correspond and become one. It’s like my original collages: every piece has its corresponding frame. A fusion of artwork and frame. It is actually difficult to name the most difficult part, as I see the process as a whole. From getting the design with all the measurements into the exact fit for the building, till getting up in the lift, spending long days in unexpected weather while pasting the paper on the stone walls.
Apart from your upcoming solo show, what can we expect to see from you in the next year?
I will be working on new mural projects, a selection of group shows and I’d like to spend time to develop the VR Handiedan universe. This gives me so much energy and I am super excited to explore the boundaries of this new technique and looking very forward to share more with you!
Delusional – 1st Annual Juried Group Exhibition Winners
Words by Nicole Gordon and Photos by @just_a_spectator and Penn Eastburn
August 9th was a great night for all, especially the 42 artists selected as winners of Delusional: Jonathan LeVine’s Search for the Next Great Artist. It was the gallery’s first annual juried exhibition. We know there was an overwhelming response, with applicants in the thousands, making the selection process an extremely hard and difficult task for the gallery. The work reflected a variety of mediums that showcased current trends in contemporary art. The gallery hopes to bring new talent to their audience and open doors for their future endeavors.
With that being said, the 1st place winner from Canada was Josh Tiessen, the 2nd place winner from United Arab Emirates was Julia Ibbini and the 3rd place winner from New York was Ronald Gonzalez. Honorable Mention went to Diana Carolina Lopez from Mexico, Jim Salvati from California and Jim Woodring from Washington.
First Place: Josh Tiessen
Second Place: Julia Ibbini
Third Place: Ronald Gonzalez
Honorable Mention: Diana Carolina Lopez
Honorable Mention: Jim Salvati
Honorable Mention: Jim Woodring
I certainly had my favorites and loved seeing the work of Risa Tochigi, Trent Taft, Stickman, Julian Clavijo, and Will Kurtz among others.
Once again, congratulations to all of the artist’s that won. I know there was also a special thanks stated to all of the artist’s that submitted their work, too. There was so much talent on the two floors that my heart was actually racing super fast from excitement! That is how I felt about the variety of mediums used and the level of talent displayed at the gallery.
JEREMY FISH TALKS ART, SAN FRANCISCO, AND HIS NEW COLLABORATION WITH ABSOLUTEXTRACTS
Jeremy Fish and AbsoluteXtracts have teamed up for a new cannabis vape pen, which features Fish’s artwork and a particular strain and flavor of oil curated by Fish as well. Check out the video to hear Fish talk about his connection to San Francisco, this collaboration, and his signature style of artwork as well.
Jonathan LeVine Projects Announced as North Jersey Indie Rock Fest Sponsor
N.J. Racket is beyond honored to announce that Jersey City’s own Jonathan LeVine Projects will be a sponsor of Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids’Second Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival. Owner and proprietor Jonathan LeVine is known internationally as one of the pioneers of the street art movement in the early 2000s, and his gallery is considered to be one of the premiere galleries in the world for transgressive and subversive pop surrealism.
LeVine has been running his own gallery for sixteen years, having recently relocated to Jersey City from Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, where he had been since 2005 following a move from Philadelphia. Jonathan LeVine Projects is most well-known for bringing street and underground artists to the forefront of art culture and into the focus of elite collectors from around the world. Perhaps most notably was Shepard Fairey, creator of “Andre the Giant has a Posse” and President Obama’s 2008 “Hope” campaign poster, whom LeVine featured in the 2007 exhibition E Pluribus Venom. Yet, almost in spite of his successes, LeVine maintains his “blue-collar,” Jersey punk identity.
LeVine’s passion for the local punk scene is effervescent. Growing up in Trenton, he made a home of the iconic ‘80s nightclub City Gardens, which served as a suburban waystation between Manhattan and Philly for all the up-and-coming bands of the time, as well as a proving ground for local talent. When we spoke, LeVine gave me a veritable history lesson in all things punk rock, recalling every band, every label, every promoter that made up the scene that he loved and would shape his life. In his late twenties, LeVine played drums in a band he started with James Salerno called Drywater. The band would gig throughout New Jersey and New York when VFW shows were becoming a big thing. It was at these types of underground shows that LeVine would become friends with Neil Sabatino, then of Stick Figure Suicide.
In addition to actively performing, LeVine also started hosting art shows at local punk bars, which began when he approached then Maxwell’s owner Steve Fallon about hosting a single show and instead, Fallon allowed him to do all the art shows for a year. LeVine said of this period of his career, “I was learning. I made lots of mistakes and lost lots of money. I barely survived, but that’s what I did, and I learned from that.” LeVine would parlay the opportunity at Maxwell’s into a four-year residency at CBGB’s gallery, owned by fellow New Jersey punk legend Hilly Kristal.
Eventually, however, LeVine would have to walk away from these projects. “I was thirty years old and I was living in downtown Jersey City, and I was working three part-time jobs, I was playing in a band, I was managing my band, I was curating art shows out of bars…I worked in real estate, I worked for the Jersey City as a visual arts coordinator, and I could see ahead that people that were ten to twenty years older than me were stuck in the same thing were they were doing – all the grassroots, D.I.Y. stuff, living in a shitty loft – and I never wanted that for myself. I never wanted to be a poor starving artist, but I was.” LeVine moved back to Trenton where he began to reevaluate and refocus himself. “It was hard for me because I had to give up my rock and roll fantasy.”
This time was a turning point in LeVine’s life, as he would open his first gallery in New Hope, Pennsylvania in 2001; and while he had to let go of his rock and roll fantasy, it was his admiration and appreciation for the underground art style that truly set him and his gallery apart from the rest. To this day, LeVine credits his punk roots for instilling a work ethic and sense of perseverance in him that was crucial for his success.
Now, after running his gallery for a total of sixteen years in four different locations, LeVine has been able to, at least partially, turn his attention back toward music. LeVine says that he hardly played music at all for twelve years, but since moving to a house in New Jersey, he now finds himself playing drums again at least five days a week. LeVine has also since reconnected with former bandmate James Salerno, and the two formed a new band called Cyclone Static.
“Playing drums regularly is a way to meditate,” LeVine says. “There’s no pressure. I feel like I’ve had enough success in my life that I feel satisfied, whereas when I was younger I took everything more seriously and I would beat myself up. But now I’m pushing fifty and playing in this band. It’s just kind of fucking hilarious to me. It’s just been fun. It’s been really fuckin’ fun.”
Still, it’s not in LeVine’s nature to half-ass anything he does. Cyclone Static began recording demos and, following the 2016 inaugural North Jersey Indie Rock Festival, LeVine reconnected with Mint 400 owner Neil Sabatino, who signed the band to his label. In that time, Cyclone Static has been very active, opening for such notable bands as Piebald, Local H, Red Aunts, The Vibrators, and Scream. The band is currently working on recording an album, of which LeVine says he “dreams big, but is realistic” and also is “excited to see what Neil and I can accomplish together.”
Speaking as the other sponsor of the Second Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival, there is nobody better to sponsor this event than Jonathan LeVine. He has been active in this community for thirty years, watching trends, people, places come and go, and he has reached a level of success that many would think, coming from a working-class Trenton suburb, is unobtainable. But LeVine stands now as an example of the great achievements that can be borne from this community with enough of a work ethic, enough perseverance, and a willingness to never quit on your dreams.
Thank you, Jonathan, for your support, and best of luck to you on all your future projects.
JONATHAN LEVINE PROJECTS’ SELECTION FOR URBAN ART FAIR NYC
Jonathan LeVine Projects has put on an impressive selection for Urban Art Fair New York in booth 6.02. Their exhibit features work by Augustine Kofie, DALeast, Dan Witz, EVOL, Faith47 and Prefab77. Also on view will be a selection of twenty limited edition prints by an array of artists. Check out a small selection of these artists’ work below