Brooklyn based John Lisle’s art is a duality. It is in many ways dreamy and atmospheric, but it’s also at the same time clear and direct. More than anything his pieces tell a story of worlds that could be real but aren’t, or characters and figures reimagined in ways you’ve never seen before.
Check out this selection of the creations by Kristian Jones, a British illustrator featuring children facing our modern technology. Jones is a freelance illustrator / artist living in the centre of the UK just outside of sunny Birmingham, producing work for magazines, clothing ranges and working for various bands and clubnights on the Birmingham music scene crafting posters and artwork of an alternative nature. His style preys on the innocence of childhood imagination, surreal worlds and fictional creatures.
For years, Nathan Ota has been pursuing new worlds, both dark and fantastic, to explore in his paintings. Ota has used his stand-ins – a blind bird, a drunk monkey, a one-eyed robot lost in the woods – to travel through dreamlands that hold fantasies and tragedies.
His early influences came from television cartoons, comic books, photographs and punk rock flyers. Classical art never really interested him so he turned to work by artists he could really relate to: Robert Williams, Olivia, Puss Head, Raymond Pettibon. In high school, Nathan always found himself gravitating toward popular culture—then he discovered graffiti. He still dabbled a little in graffiti once he entered Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, but a whole new world of art was unfolding before his eyes with illustration. Ota didn’t know what he wanted to do when he entered college and left it to the hands of the instructors to lead him in some direction. That’s when he became an illustrator.
Many of Jon Boam’s characters sport animal heads or conical hats, but his fascination with otherworldly architecture, his twists on conventional fantasy designs and his unsettling cyborg creations add a richer, darker note to his illustrations. Simple, almost child-like images grow out into intricate narratives, and almost-familiar characters find themselves in unexpected scenes.
His illustrations play with complex eccentricities, blending architecture and biology in a single character design, packing his subjects with outlandish objects and inviting us to guess at their purpose, and taking a simple scene and adding two degrees of weirdness where one would be comfortable. He makes it difficult to separate the technological from the mystical and figure out where humans end and machines begin.
Yosuke Ueno is a self-taught Japanese artist, working in the style of pop surrealism. Born in Japan in 1977, he has been creating his unique and colorful world since his early age, and as a result Ueno’s first solo exhibition was in 1994 in Yamaguchi, when he was just 16 years old.
Weird, creepy but in a beautiful kind of way, Ueno’s art stands out for its interesting juxtapositions and hidden symbolism. Skulls, swans, scissors and amazing characters appear in his paintings, making you wonder what kind of hidden message they all carry.
Palma de Mallorca, Spain based artist Andrea Castro paints delicate oil work portraits overlaid by thick, expressive strokes of color. Castro, who originally studied fashion design, works in the overlap between abstract and figurative art, often adding details such as beading or embroidery to her works.
She considers art as another language, another way to express yourself. She’s fascinated by the idea of reaching everybody around the world, whichever the language they may speak, and connect with them through her character’s emotions or stories. She wants the observer to identify with her own artistic idiom and to vent of all those feelings we all have felt overtaking ourselves at some point. To do that she creates internal conversations with the subjects of her paintings, they tell her what they want to transmit as she’s giving them shape.
Kris Knight is a Canadian painter whose work examines performance in relation to the construction, portrayal and boundaries of sexual and asexual identities. Drawing from personal histories of rural escapism through imagination, Knight paints disenchanted characters that are lost between youth and adulthood; they hide their secrets, but desperately long to let them go.
His mythical and ambiguous portraits are a synthesis of fantasy and real-world memory; they tiptoe between the dichotomies of pretty and menace, hunter and hunted, innocence and the erotic.
Chicago artist and musician Gregory Jacobsen chooses to render in his awkward acrylic, confidently sensual world flags in butts, shit beaks, and fleshy chunks of meat caught in seemingly intimate moments.
The candy-coated colors draw the viewer in, only to confront them with a heap of labia coupled with mangy flesh slabs in a chunky meat heap, or a cheery young girl toppled over with a flag stuck in her vagina, a voyeuristic pig smirking behind her. The viewer doesn’t exactly know how to feel, confronted with these awkward, intimate affairs rendered in unsuspecting hues, an effect Jacobsen is after.
Much like the piles of fleshy, gloopy shapes that walk a fine line between vagina and open wound, the exact purpose of his work is difficult to pin down. Obsessed with failure, ambiguity, and comedic tragedy, Jacobsen appears to care for the characters he creates without fetishizing them.
Amandine Urruty lives and works on her bed, with a suit case full of pens always nearby. After studying at University for long years and a brief career in underground music, Amandine spreads her repertoire of beasts and her gallery of weird characters on all kind of mediums, on paper as on walls. As she masters techniques of traditional drawing, Urruty offers us a cheerful gallery of deviant portraits, associating grotesque outfits with baroque decorum which miraculously reconcile lovers of alchemistic symbolism to young ladies with too much make up.
Urruty trusts her instincts and draws inspiration from a wealth of eclectic interests which span the wide gap between high art and pop culture. Revelling in the mystique of her decision making process, she engages in the creation of a unique and personal symbolism, which unveils and unravels itself over the course of time.