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Can you imagine walking into an art gallery expecting to see paintings, but only seeing large photographs of everyday people instead? Artwork as realistic as the paintings created by German artist David Uessem could trick anyone into thinking they’ve just looked at a photo. Uessem is known for taking snapshots of everyday life and painting realistic portraits of the pictures with his own authentic twist.
Artwork can overwhelm you with emotion or bring up certain memories from your past. When I first saw artist Richard Hart’s painting of an individual, that seems to be a woman based on the facial features, gazing blankly into the distance with what looks like the weight of the world on her shoulders, I immediately felt her pain.
The painting was inspired by a picture of a sculpture created by author Malvina Hoffman. I couldn’t stop staring at this one particular piece of art. The eyes in Hart’s painting drew me in and allowed me to feel a sense of sadness and loss of hope.The simplicity of the colors blue, black and white somewhat represent a darkness that hangs over them. Around her eyes, there’s a huge presence of the colors black and dark blue, demonstrating she’s tired and possibly feeling defeated. There’s a small amount of the color white in her eyes that could be illustrating just a small bit of optimism, that things could still get better.
Since the 18th century, the industrial revolution industry has created a way of life that harms nature, from deforestation to air pollution. Many political advocacy groups, like the Environmental Defense Fund, have taken action to reduce industrial growth, while others have decided to let their voice be heard in a different way.
North Carolina based contemporary artist Brian Mashburn uses his artwork to express his feelings about the matter. Mashburn is known for his hyperrealistic oil paintings, which typically depict a post-apocalyptic world, in which animals habitats are encroached upon by human activity, and human beings are few in numbers. At first glance, his pieces portray beautiful scenes of nature, but the meaning behind his work runs a little deeper. The artist showcases the beauty of the environment by including animals and outdoor scenery in his paintings. He then brings you back to reality by displaying the negative effects of urbanization, while maintaining the fact that nature and industrial urban areas coexist. Though they exist in the same space, they appear to be on different scales.
Can you imagine walking into a museum and seeing a canopy made of 150,000 Australian native flowers? What about a suspending display of 8,000 flowers hanging from a gallery ceiling, or 30,000 flowers in a Berlin museum to welcome the spring season? Those things may seem extravagant, but that’s because they really are. Rebecca Louise Law is an installation artist based in East London who develops art exhibits with decaying flowers.
“The complexity of flowers as a material fascinated me,” said Law, in a 2016 interview for CNN Style. “I think because they are ephemeral and a challenge, flowers have kept me on my toes. They’re really difficult to work with.”
In many ways, Kelly Durette’s illustrations look as though they could easily fit among the pages of a fashion or bridal magazine. The women she draws are exquisite, eyes focused, with hands grazing the curves of their cheeks. Yet there is one distinct difference between Durette’s women and the ones that often appear on the covers of Vogue — hers are not among the living. The curls of their hair are held in place by decorative bones, skulls and tissue are exposed by a decaying face, and their lips are cracked with age. Durette has taken the looks of models and flipped them, emphasizing macabre elements to both challenge and promote the beauty of her subjects.
The Ontario-based, self-taught artist has often had her work categorized in the “Day of the Dead” genre. Of course, the skulls and balance of bright tones through primary and colored pencils speaks to a certain aesthetic. But Durette’s focus transcends the popular style by having a particular focus on the anatomy of her subjects. She tells the alternative art magazine Creep Machine, “I have always been fascinated by medical illness, anatomy and what happens to the body after death. It’s not meant to be creepy, but rather to draw these beautiful women and add a touch of the macabre without losing the overall sexiness.” Consequently, her work generally inspires a realistic feel, as opposed to the painterly qualities of many “Day of the Dead” pieces. Durette’s work literally feels as though its subjects are decaying; the pinks of the muscles can be seen past the paling skin.
There are some street artists that have the ability to paint such magnificent murals that you couldn’t imagine the building looking any other way. A mural titled “Mirandas en Transito” which is outside of the museum Instituto de Investigaciones Culturales Museo in Mexicali, is the work of an artist who has such artistic capabilities. This mural features shapes that have the ability to flow with the edges of the building. Fernando Corona possesses a talent where he is able to utilize the shape of the building to animate his murals and give them a natural flow that can’t be found in most two-dimensional art. The mural also features several pairs of black-and-white eyes looking in different directions. The simple color choices in the eyes are contrasted with several yellow, green, purple and orange triangles, which gives the mural a geometric sharpness balanced by the soft lines of the eyes throughout the mural.
With the birth of social media, several rare, innovative contemporary art styles and materials have garnered major attention, from packing tape murals to hyper-realistic paintings. The work of nineteen year old Kenyan artist, Katanu Kay fits into this category. She chooses to wield kitenge, a fabric used in most of East Africa, in her paintings. Kay breathes life into her work by draping her subjects in the cloth.
“The kitenge fabric in my art signifies all the different kinds of cultures represented by Africa because Africa is so culturally diverse. It’s so interesting to me that every single pattern and color holds a different deeper meaning,” Kay explained in an interview with the China Global Television Network (Africa).
How does one define contemporary art? Everybody’s perception is different. Some would define contemporary art as i sculpting, performance, photography, installation or even videography. It’s all about how a person looks at it, however thing is for sure, art is a form of self expression.
Canadian artist Sara Cwynar creates artwork through photography and installation. She captures images with a camera and couples them with actual objects such as photographs, fruits, cups, flowers or even books, only to reproduce the items as another full image.
“My process begins with a massive personal archive of found objects, and involves reprinting and reworking the images, taking them out of collective spaces and into ones [spaces] open for personal intervention,” said Cwynar in an interview with independent publisher Lavalette.