Last week, the Lotte Museum in Seoul unveiled an expansive retrospective entitled Eternal Journey featuring the art of James Jean (interviewed). The exhibition features over 500 works from the American artist including pieces from his time as a comic book artist, sketchbooks, videos, digital art, and sculptures like a new eight foot tall stained glass obelisk. The highlight of the show though has the be the room with a series of large scale paintings, prime examples of Jean’s fantastical artistic vision and unparalleled imagination.
Photo credit: Giant Robot, @kurmanix, Brandon Shigeta, @bluednirvana, @mirandaleebohon, @slownote, @jiyoonmall, @ana.0k, @cohrojae, @hypebeastkr, @9.nee, @mrmrtrapgod, and the artist.
Discuss James Jean here.
James Jean had his first exhibition with Jonathan LeVine Gallery back in January 2009. Arrested Motion wrote about it here.
Josh Tiessen has a fascinating and unusual story. As a child he was considered one of the world’s top ten prodigy artists and the only known male art prodigy in North America. He is primarily self taught and has now grown into an articulate young man who is maintaining his passion, drive, devotion and unbelievable work ethic with his art. He’s been featured in over 90 exhibitions and has recieved over 60 prestigious awards and has been asked to speak and give interviews throughout his life. Unfortunately some surprising health issues and his concern for the environment shifted his ways of painting a few years ago and he was drawn to Natural Earth Paint’s idea of truly non-toxic painting. This is a sneak peak into the unique life of Josh Tiessen.Welcome Josh! Can you start by telling us a little bit about your personal history – where you grew up and how did that place or landscape affect your life as an artist?
I was born in Moscow, Russia, to Canadian parents working as professors and humanitarians. I had a Russian nanny who did lots of arts and crafts with me, and from the age of three she would teach me how to paint my stuffed animals with shading and perspective. Her two daughters were ballerinas so we went to the ballet often, as well as the circus, both of which had symphony orchestras. We also visited art galleries and outdoor art markets. A rich culture of the arts definitely had an effect on me early in life.
What art training did you recieve?I am primarily self-taught, but have been mentored under master artists, such as acclaimed wildlife artist Robert Bateman when I was 15 years old. I have travelled throughout Europe and North America, visiting museums and doing studies of notable masterpieces, and have also built a sizeable personal library of art history, the European masters, and artistic technique.
In your art training, were you ever taught about art supplies safety – How to protect yourself from toxic supplies and which supplies were toxic?
In my high school art classes we used water-soluble oils, which were safer due to not having to use any mediums or solvents, but there wasn’t any discussion about the heavy metals in the pigments, which are toxic. After high school I did a year-long mentorship under master artist and head professor of the School of the Arts at McMaster University. I don’t remember ever discussing the toxic hazards in an artists’ studio and the proper precautions to take. Even talking with older professional artists throughout my formative years, I may have occasionally been told not to use Turpentine, but that was pretty much the extent of advice about protection.
What types of paint and supplies did/do you primarily use and what were/are your safety precautions (if any)?
When I was nine years old I was discovered by an animal portrait artist who took me under her wing and passed on her skills in chalk pastel realism. While I am sure the pastel dust may have been toxic to inhale, our styles were very controlled so there weren’t clouds of pastel dust in the air or anything like that. As an animal lover with many pets she was conscious of keeping her studio free from fumes, as she rarely painted with acrylics or oils and did not use thinners.
Did you have any adverse health issues from using these supplies?
Due to my desire of wanting to cover larger surfaces, I switched from chalk pastel to heavy body acrylics. Many aspiring wildlife artists paint with acrylic (following after their hero, Bateman) since there is a perception that acrylics are not as toxic as oils, and are friendlier for the environment. By the time I was sixteen, I began branching out from the wildlife art world in Canada, incorporating old architecture and getting juried into the international Guild of Realism. When I realized that many of these seasoned realist painters (most double to triple my age) were using oils to achieve soft gradients, I began to transition. I began with Alkyd Oils and Odourless Mineral Spirits, as an easier transition from faster drying acrylics. I remember a commissioned painting that I was under pressure to complete by Christmas, and I was getting really sick from working on it. The stress, combined with the solvent-based AlkydOils, and even the OMS, caused sneezing, runny nose, headache, etc.
Did you have concerns about safe disposal of toxic supplies?
Before I became aware of the toxicity of my supplies, I did not think about safe disposal. Granted, as a hyperrealist artist, I am very efficient with paint and quite fastidious in my studio, so very little gets thrown into the garbage. When an artist friend down in Florida, Beth Sistrunk, told me about how she takes her waste to a safe disposal it got me thinking, as no other artist I knew kept a special can for toxic waste. Since then I have had a separate garbage can that I can take to the local toxic waste centre in my town.You have shared that you are transitioning to a “non-toxic studio”. How did this process start and what have you been doing as part of this transition?Growing up in Russia we had a guard dog whose owner used to take it hunting, and it would return with ticks in its fur. My dad carefully removed them, but was unaware of being infected by Lyme bacteria. He fell ill first, then my mom, and eventually (after being misdiagnosed for over a decade) our whole family developed Chronic Lyme Disease. While Lyme bacteria had laid dormant in my body for many years, our integrative medical specialist noticed that my brother and I were breaking bones easily, often fatigued, and experiencing brain fog in spite of being discovered as prodigies by a global child prodigy expert. In addition to treatment and major dietary changes to help with symptoms, this doctor told me about the book Artist Beware by Michael McCann Ph.D., and I was shocked at what I discovered! I didn’t realize that an artist’s career could be fraught with so many environmental hazards. It made sense that artists throughout history have been known to die young or go mentally insane (i.e. Vincent van Gogh) due to high levels of toxicity in their art supplies. Artist Beware helped me realize that it wasn’t just solvents that were the problem, but the actual pigments themselves (i.e. cadmiums, cobalts, manganese, zinc, etc.) which are known carcinogens when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
Despite this new knowledge I couldn’t just throw out all my paint supplies (since I’m not independently wealthy LOL) but I started making small changes. Knowing I have a compromised immune-system due to Lyme, I needed to do something different if I wanted longevity in my career. At the advice of Dr. Rick Sponaugle (a Florida doctor who treated my family for Lyme in 2015) I got a hepa filter mask, as I was still using some toxic paint supplies. Even today, if I am ever using toxic materials, like varnish sprays, I wear this mask. As for my paints, as I ran out I replaced the toxic pigments with healthier pigments… gravitating to paint brands that were transparent with their pigments. I also stopped using Liquin (a popular modern medium) after finding out that it was made of petroleum distillates. I replaced this with Walnut Oil, which I ended up liking better due to its thin viscosity, allowing for fine detailed work.
How do you incorporate Natural Earth Paint products into your practice?
During this transition, I was trying to find a healthier solvent alternative for cleaning my brushes. Through scouring the internet, I came across Natural Earth Paint, and was thrilled to discover an affordable and natural solvent, Eco-Solve. I put the Eco-solve in a Sillicoil jar, which has a metal coil to clean my brushes on during a painting session and afterward. Occasionally, for a faster drying time, I mix the Eco-Solve with Walnut oil. I also use the Eco-Gesso kit, as it can be mixed into a thin formula and used to prime my Baltic birch panels with an air compressor and spray gun. This past year I have started using the natural pigments, which I admit was a bigger risk not knowing what the difference would be in comparison to the conventional pre-mixed paint brands I was used to. Leah, you were so helpful in honestly answering my questions about the pigments ahead of time, before I jumped in. Since I had already been pre-mixing custom paints and storing them in aluminum tubes, it wasn’t actually that much of a change to mix pigment with walnut oil. I am glad that the paints are keeping long-term, and I look forward to trying more pigments in the future 🙂
Do you have any tips for artists who also want to de-toxify their studio? Were there any challenges? What made the process easier? What have the benefits been?
One of the things I see many other artists doing is wearing thin rubber gloves. If you can’t change your paints, or don’t have time to mix raw pigment, I would suggest getting Green Country biodegradable natural rubber gloves, which I use on a regular basis. When I was treated for Lyme, blood tests revealed that I had the highest levels of the toxins benzene and toluene in my family, presumably from being an artist. It was crucial that I went through a detox regimen, which included high-dose IV Glutathione and Vitamin C, plus colon hydrotherapy and upwards to 100 supplements a day. I recommend looking into detox treatment if you’ve been painting for a long time with toxic paint supplies. One of the blessings in disguise through the process of being sick, is that’s it’s forced me to become more aware of my health, and also how my philosophy of environmental stewardship needs to be holistic throughout all areas of my life, including my studio. I try not to be paranoid or judge other artists. You also can’t live in a bubble, realizing that there are going to be times when you might have to compromise, due to time and money, but as long as you’re moving in the right direction that’s what matters.
Why do you think it’s important to detoxify your studio?
You may be healthy now, as your body can mask the toxins like mine did for years until my immunity was compromised. But if or when you have health struggles, a toxic studio will only exacerbate your symptoms. It will also have harmful effects on others who come into your studio, like your children and pets who may be more susceptible. A toxic studio also contributes to global pollution. As a Christian I am a firm believer in the sanctity of our bodies and the intrinsic value of the natural world created by God, so having a healthy non-toxic studio is ideal for me, and maybe even a spiritual calling. Instead of an unbiblical philosophy of ‘trashing this world’ in favour of a heavenly escape, I believe a more accurate depiction of Jesus’ teaching was for the redemption (restoration) of the earth, which includes all facets of life, including the art world. We have been given these amazing natural resources, raw pigments, allowing us to develop a vast array of colours. Instead of evaluating success by economic gain, which ultimately leads to exploitation, we need to prioritize ethical and responsible decisions in the art supply industry.
Which artists throughout time inspire you the most?
Some of my favourite artists include, in the pinnacle of German Romanticism, Caspar David Friedrich, for his incredibly symbolic and existential landscapes with lone figures. I am also drawn to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 19th century English painters, enchanted with medieval art and natural imagery, combined with modern realist sensibilities. I love van Gogh for his colour palette and resonate with his mystical faith, as seen in his extensive letters. In addition to visual art I love reading, and have always been enthralled by the fiction of C.S. Lewis, especially The Chronicles of Narnia which have inspired some of my works. For wildlife artists, Robert Bateman is still my favourite, and I look to him for his intriguing compositional structure. He also personally encouraged me to get involved in conservation, and after being mentored by him I joined a local conservation group, donating prints to raise funds which saved a portion of conservation land not far from where I live.
What is the main inspiration for your work?
The main theme behind my work is the interaction between the natural world and man-made structures. Through my studies in liberal arts, i draw upon history, philosophy, and religious studies, which can be seen in the stories I write to go with my paintings. My extensive travels also greatly inform my work. I have been fortunate to travel overseas from a young age, and have been on numerous road trips across North America, taking my camera and sketch book and compiling reference material for future paintings.
How do you find balance and stay connected to the natural world in the typically disconnected, busy-ness of todays world?
While my studio is located halfway between Toronto and Niagara Falls, it faces the Niagara Escarpment in the Golden Horseshoe Region, which is home to some of the most beautiful sights in Ontario including many waterfalls and hiking trails. Also, a mile down the road is Lake Ontario, where I enjoy walking along the waterfront trail. It takes intentionality to get outdoors, as I paint 6-10 hours a day and don’t always find the right balance, but I’m always working on it 🙂
One of the things I’ve tried to be more intentional about is taking one day a week away from my studio, following the Judeo-Christian practice of sabbath, which was a tradition that permeated society through to the last century. While painting I listen to audio books, lectures and podcasts, and recently was challenged by pastors in Portland, A.J. Swoboda and John Mark Comer, who encourage their congregations to stop working for one day of the week in order to spend time with family, go out in nature, and do things that are life-giving. I find this practice, literally, a breath of fresh air! Along with this I’ve been trying to limit screens on my day off, especially getting away from social media. I’m thankful my parents limited TV and video games during my childhood. This, along with homeschooling, freed me up to spend time outdoors and develop my art. Sure, I’m not always up on the latest TV shows or movies like other 20-somethings, but it’s worth the peace and joy of being more unplugged.
How would you describe your artistic style?
The way I describe my style is narrative hyperrealism. My process always begins with imaginative sketches, and only after that do I source photographic references, usually taken by me. For the last five years I have painted on non-quadrilateral shaped birch panels, allowing the shape of the subject matter to dictate the shape of the painting. While my style does not neatly fit into any genre, much of my recent work has been embraced by the New Contemporary movement that shares in common values such as craftsmanship and juxtaposition, eschewing the unnecessary distinction between high and low brow art. Wildlife art has traditionally been marginalized to low brow, but I am encouraged to see these contemporary movements being so amenable to my subject matter, which most often includes animals. Earlier this year I was approached by the owners of Antler Gallery in Portland to exhibit in their Talon Gallery anniversary show. I was happy to contribute my work Defending the Paint, and be surrounded by other artists also innovating with nature and animal art.
Your paintings are incredibly detailed, how long do you spend on each one?
Each painting takes 300-1200 hours to complete, so it’s a long process from the inception of an idea to finished painting. It usually takes a couple years for a painting idea and concept sketch to develop before it makes it onto the panel, which then takes 2-8 months.
We at Natural Earth Paint are hoping to inspire a “Slow Art Movement” and encourage artists to slow down their process and take the time to hone their craft, create their own art materials like the Old Masters, and develop a real connection with their process – allowing the inspiration to come at it’s own time and taking the time needed to create it. This reminds me of your work, does this resonate with you at all?
Most definitely! While I’m not opposed to using the best of technology to my advantage (i.e. Photoshop for composing paintings and choosing palette) you’re right about some of the benefits of returning to traditional Old Masters techniques. I’ve been designated as the youngest Associate Living Master by Art Renewal Center, the world’s largest organization for championing representational living artists. Some artists gravitate to more immediate and intuitive artistic styles, but for me, since I care about highlighting the particularity and complexity of the natural world, a slower approach is necessary in the studio, and outdoors where careful observation is so important.
I really respect what you’re doing at Natural Earth Paint, as it definitely does coincide with the relatively recent return to Old Masters’ techniques, as seen in the burgeoning growth of art atelier academies.
Tell us about your upcoming show and how can we see more of your art?
Four years ago I began working on a series of paintings inspired by prophetic poetry in the book of Isaiah in the Bible: “The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland … yet you have not called on me, Israel” (Isa. 43:20-22). I have applied these prophecies, which contrast the nations’ lack of honour for their Creator, disregarding the environment, with animals taking up residence in abandoned human civilizations. Through my work I hope to offer streams of hope within the post-apocalyptic wasteland, highlighting the God-given mandate of caring for animals and the environment, which is also a relevant theme for today.This series of paintings will be unveiled at my debut international solo exhibition Streams in the Wasteland, featuring twelve paintings at Jonathan LeVine Projects, a New York based gallery now located in Jersey City. The exhibition opening is on May 4th from 6-8pm. You can find more of my work on my website: www.joshtiessen.com and on Instagram and Facebook (@joshtiessen).Read article on Natural Earth Paint
Julia Ibbini‘s laser-cut paper designs are inspired by differing cultures, geometry, and other, unexpected influences. The artist has a online exhibition that runs April 3 through May 3 with Jonathan Levine Projects. Ibbini says that the algorithm-driven aspects of her creations and contemporary sensibility “contrasts with traditional ornament and craftsmanship resulting in highly detailed, multi-faceted pieces.”
Jonathan Levine Projects explains her process. “Each work begins with a single line and a circle which are then are built into a digital unit. Once the drawings are complete, they are cut in numerous layers out of paper and mylar using a customized laser machine. The final work is finished entirely by hand with each part glued individually and juxtaposed against ink poured over mylar to create an intensity of contrast and color.”
See more of her work below.
United Emirates-based artist Julia Ibbini sources elements from Islamic geometry, embroidery, meenakari enamel work, and even electronic music to inspire the designs that compose her laser-cut paper works. The complex patterns and layers of her colorful compositions are a metaphor for the artist’s multicultural background as a dual national from Jordan and the UK, and share elements of symbolism seen in the Middle East region. Ibbini uses computer algorithms to create digital designs that she laser cuts onto paper. She then layers these detailed pieces and hand-paints them with ink in brilliant shades of pink, blue, yellow, and orange. Her solo exhibition The Sublime Line opens April 3, 2019, at Jonathan LeVine Projects and runs through May 3, 2019. You can see more of her detailed compositions on her website and Instagram.
How did your journey as an artist begin?
I’ve been making art since I was a very young child and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. However, it took until my early 30’s to actually label myself an artist. I spent most of my 20’s crippled with self-doubt about my abilities and then at some point, something changed. I had the thought “right, enough with that BS, I’m going to just try and make stuff.” I guess it started there.
What do artists do all day? What happens in your studio?
It starts with tea. Then I survey the complete chaos that is my workspace. My work is very meticulous, but it needs to be made in a space that is strewn with paper and other detritus. Once I’ve mapped out my day – all the machines (three computers and my laser cutter) are switched on and it’s sort of a dance between the machines and the physical assembly of the work for the rest of the day. Punctuated with more tea.
Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with technology and machines?
My entire practice is deeply intertwined with technology. I work very quickly – almost frantically, I want the work to be highly detailed and multi-faceted – but, I make a lot of mistakes and frequent changes. Computers make that process possible.
I’m always very careful to make sure a human element remains in the work. It’s that play between my hands (and all the human error that comes with them) and the machine’s precision that makes the work special.
What are you most proud of?
How my practice has progressed and evolved.
I was invited to take part in the Islamic Arts Festival at the Sharjah Art Museum last December. It’s a fabulous space and the pieces I showed there were some of my most complex. The opening was one of those moments where I was able to step back and realize how far the work had come.
What’s life like in the United Arab Emirates?
Hot. It frequently hits 50°C (that’s over 120°F) in the summer, winters are fantastic though.
It’s a very young country and there’s a tremendous energy and will to succeed, particularly in Dubai. Everything happens at a very fast pace. I have spent my whole life here so I’ve literally seen cities rise from the desert in the span of three decades, which is incredible.
What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not making work?
I run. I love distance running and when I have enough time to train I run ultra-marathons. The furthest I’ve run so far is 100km (62 miles) through the mountains in a day.
If you hadn’t become an artist, what do you think you would have become?
Probably very lost.
Press release March 4, 2019
Susannah Martin JUST NATURE March 17 to May 26, 2019 at the Kunstforum of the TU Darmstadt
Press Tour: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 11 am Vernissage: Saturday, March 16, 2019 6 pm
For the first time, the exhibition JUST NATURE pays tribute in large part to the painterly work of the US artist Susannah Martin in the Rhine-Main region.
“Art is never chaste.” (Pablo Picasso)
The exhibition JUST NATURE in the spring of 2019 will deal with concepts of freedom that are reflected in the relationship between man and nature.
Which images of nature are prevalent in contemporary culture and how is the human body represented in the landscape? The exhibition JUST NATURE in the Kunstforum of the TU Darmstadt compares the predominantly digital life with the question of the relationship between man and nature and enquires into possible social utopias beyond the Internet and the virtual world.
In our exhibition LOST IN TRANSITION at the Kunstforum TU DArmstadt – From Fugitive, Ephemeral (September 24 to December 10, 2017), the American artist William Lamson´s video work “In the roaring garden” discusses the thoughts of the transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862 ). Thoreau described the question of the possibility of a simple life in nature, a remarkably current theme, in his 1854 published book “ Walden-Or Life in the Woods”. These suggestions are taken up in JUST NATURE.
The exhibition, curated by Julia Reichelt, focuses on the work of the American artist Susannah Martin (* 1964, New York). Her paintings, which are dedicated to the classic theme of ” the Nude in Landscape”, are not only surprising due to complex allusions. Known motifs can be found in it as well as certain periods of art history, such as the painting “Déjeuner sur l Herbe” (The breakfast in the open) by Éduard Manet (1863) or the period of the “ Lebensreform” movement around 1900.
Susannah Martin finds a completely unique pictorial language to represent the relationship of the nude in nature. For her, the exposed human being, devoid of any social indicators, is a symbol of the human being par excellence. In its relation to nature, the antagonistic gap between the natural and the natural state and the human being as a consumer or cultural being is reflected: “I am interested in exploring the nature of our enslavement to our own cultural creations and our psychic battle for liberation from these addictions ” (Susannah Martin)
Supporting Program Public Guided Tours Thursday, March 21, 2019, 6 pm also an introduction for interested teachers of all school types and Sunday, April 28, 2019, 5 pm
Reading Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 8 pm Cheating: Margarete Stokowski – The Downfall of the Patriarchate Moderation: Lisa Hille, Wilhelm Köhler Hall of the TU Darmstadt (next to the TU Kunstforum) – in cooperation with the Festival Sex @ TheCity
Conversation with the artist Thursday, May 23, 2019, 6 pm Susannah Martin in conversation with Julia Reichelt Lecture Sunday, May 26, 2019, 5 pm – Finissage – “ Lebensreform heute?! “ (Prof. Kai Buchholz, h_da Darmstadt) followed by a short tour and aperitif.
Pictures of the exhibition Available for download at bit.ly/2GtsTl7 Susannah Martin JUST NATURE March 17 to May 26, 2019 at the Kunstforum of the TU Darmstadt Hochschulstr.1, 64289 Darmstadt Opening hours of the exhibition Wednesday to Sunday, 1 to 6 pm
More information at www.tu-darmstadt.de/kunstforum . This exhibition is part of the Sex @ TheCity festival
heliumTALK and Jonathan answer questions and focused on the first question which elaborated on the topic of how to ensure longevity as an artist. They will continue these talks, and are always keen on hearing what you want them to go on about. They are currently also looking into inviting special guests to some of their future conversations on heliumTALK.
When you look at the work of artist Win Wallace from Austin, Texas, you are experiencing a suspicious appetite that a mature fruit will make you realize later is rotten.
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Burying the dark details of personal mythology under the impressive color choices and striking compositions comes to life through the curiosity that Win Wallace awakens in the audience, taking strange and extraterrestrial characters hostage to the minister’s eyes. The artist, who is also interested in music since her high school years, is the origin of her black-and-white works based on poster and demo covers she prepared for groups from underground-punk and rock scenes. In his dark, black-and-white works, which he considers his all day somut works inde as the karanlık sun inde in his colorful drawings, he turns into concrete dreams revived in the moonlight.
Do you remember your first drawings? How old were you and what were you drawing?
The first drawing that came to me when I thought about it was 8 or 9 years old. My mother had written me and my sister in art classes for kids at the art center in the city where we grew up. Lessons were in the basement of an old building. Our teacher, Mrs. O’Connor was wearing a shawl and a hat with flowers on it. We sat down on a chair in the corner and tried to draw it throughout the course. I was doing this for the first time. It was incredible for me to try to draw the person I was looking at and get lost in the curls of the shawl. At that age, I felt something inside me changed.
What were the first inspirations that influenced you as an art career?
My parents’ house had a lot of art books, books of the classical period. My favorite amongst them was Jose Clemente Orozco, David Siquieros and Diego Rivera’s wall paintings. This book has become my obsession. In fact, the volume of the book was ruined because I always carried it and took it everywhere, and my father was not pleased. The stories in the book were very detailed and filled with shocking images that were so intriguing.
I’m not so sure I don’t choose art as my own career path. When you look at my life, you can actually say that my ”career Hay is more in the service sector. I have been working in various restaurants and bars since I was 15 years old. Since the hours of the service sector were generally flexible, it was possible to draw during the day and go to work at night.
” Balance is very important, not only in terms of aesthetics, but also in the light and dark elements of the story conveyed by a work. My hope is that my work comes to life. I’m not talking about the realism of my drawings in the photographic sense, but my goal is to create a sense of vitality. Ler
You work in black and white and colors. When it comes to the use of color, I think that the choices are quite striking, you have a great feeling in both tonal choices and details. Why is black and white important to you? How do you decide if a job is black or white?
I don’t have a decision about drawing a drawing, ink or color. When an image in my mind starts to appear, I know what materials I will use right now. The origin of my pencil and ink works actually come from the concert posters I made for various groups by imitating artists such as Pushead, Posada or Raymond Pettibon. I also have the quality to produce a black-and-white work right after every colorful work. I work much faster in my black-and-white work, and it helps me to open a clean page after a time-consuming colored drawing.
In your work, you are fed by different interactions as iconography and style. Can you explain the process of creating a composition? How do you select and position images?
Yes, there are many art forms that I am impressed with, especially Baroque and other, classical ğ art movements. And of course, these interactions are reflected in my drawings. The balance is very important, not only in the aesthetic sense, but also in the light and dark elements of the story conveyed by a work. My hope is that my work comes to life. Not to mention the realism of my drawings in the photographic sense, but my aim is to create a sense of vitality. And, of course, life is for us all of the beautiful things that delight like flowers or music, and sad and tragic things like death and loss. I hope that I can achieve a balance of this opposition in my good work.
‘When I think in many ways, I actually want people to approach my work as a scene they encounter in a garden without waiting in the middle of the night.’
I’ve read that they have divided their work into three categories: ballads, allegories and stories. Can you explain these categories and how they define them?
These categories are not really very descriptive, they only allow me to draw around the three main forms of my work with flexible lines. The ıy Balads lar describe how I feel about my work and my portraits that include stories, songs and memories of a person. My pen and ink works usually have a shorter message or story, so I think of them as bir short Kalem. My colorful dolu daytime karakter works, which are more luminous, detailed stories, are full of characters and objects that resemble more than their own forms, and which together form a metaphor like “pride beraber or and greed Daha, so I like them as an allegory.
It is not easy to fully understand the subjects that you are dealing with. In almost all of them, surreal, strange and sometimes dark feeling is a common feature, but when it comes to the subject of drawing, there are layers of meaning that do not immediately turn to the viewer. What can you tell a viewer who wants to take more of what he sees from his work?
It’s a conscious choice for me to let my business speak of different layers. One of the things I like about figurative work is that they are accessible to everyone, because everyone can recognize the forms of human, animal and plant, for which there is no need for an art education or history. I hope that everyone who looks at my work can be in a private place to get in touch with them. But I also love art history and the symbolism that has accumulated in this history, not only in fine arts, but also in literature and mythology. So if someone knows about art history and can interpret my work through these layers, how nice ve But I don’t want to impose any restriction on how anyone will look at my job and how to interpret it, because it’s stealing your own life. In many ways,
Another common point in his work is his detailed figurative structures. What are the features that attract you to this style? Have you ever thought about turning to a more abstract approach?
First of all, I can say that trying to draw a pile of leaves and flowers in a natural and realistic way is a very abstract experience in itself. Almost all of the art works that I met in children, books or churches were figurative. I felt that even when I saw abstract or even conceptual works that I liked very much, it did not overlap with my own practice. I also love concrete stories and their possibilities.
Since high school, you have made concert flyers and posters for many rock and punk bands in the underground scene. You even took part in different groups. Does music continue to feed creativity? What kind of music do you listen to while working?
Music is a big part of my life, not just creativity. I still do music, I love recording or going on stage. We have a group with guitarist Brett Bradford, former member of Scratch Acid, a really great and impressive group of leaders in the Texas punk rock movement with The Big Boys, The Dicks and some other great bands.
There is a satisfaction from stealing and satisfying your creativity faster. It creates a very good balance against the prolonged, isolated and occasionally tiring nature of painting. And of course my studio plays music all the time: Thin Lizzy, Pharoah Sanders, High on Fire, Stevie Wonder, Tammy Wynette, from the ’70s, early Peace Mancho …
What are your recent discoveries? Art, music, literature, or any other field …
Ufommamut, a magnificent heavy metal band from Italy, is one of my favorite discoveries. I also discovered another group called We are the Astreoid from Austin. They are very good, especially if you listen to live as it is very enjoyable. As for the visual arts, I met with my work with Jonathan Levin Projects, and I met Susannah Martin and Arinze Stanley … I think they are great in every way. Since I’ve been drawing so much lately, I’m ashamed to embarrass myself that the books are a little bit empty. But I keep reading Isabel Allende’s books slowly. Of course, he’s not a new writer to discover, but that’s what I’ve been reading lately.
Who do you prefer to be friends in your daily life, and what do you stay away from?
In my social life, I used to be more creative with the musicians. I think Austin will always be a city of music rather than visual arts. I have serious social anxiety like most of us, so I’m not even sure how to think about this question. In my daily life, I refrain from driving meat, hard drugs and (if possible) motorways.
What are you working on these days? Are there any projects or plans you want to share?
I am currently working on two solo exhibitions for Jonathan Levine Projects in Dallas and Craighead Green Gallery. These two will require me to be happily in my studio for the next few months. I have a lot of work to do and I’m really happy for the opportunities people have to meet with my work.
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As promised we are keeping up our candid talk about the business, and the people, and the weirdness that is called The Art World!
Please send us your questions if you have any for Jonathan and Jorg. They are definitely not finished with part 3, they are still up for more talks, so write to email@example.com and they will see if they have some answers for you.
A new episode is online! Listen to part 3 of the ongoing conversations with Jonathan LeVine / Jonathan LeVine Projects here: