BUILT ENVIRONMENTS BY BEN TOLMAN

by Ariadna Zierold

ben tolman, illustration, monochrome, intricate, detail, city, cities, building, buildings, upper playground

Artist Ben Tolman creates incredibly intricate drawings that dig for the heart beneath the hard edges of the built environment. He lives and works in Washington DC. He received his MFA in 2012 from American University and his BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2005. He has exhibited work nationally and internationally including being an exhibited finalist in the  Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

ben tolman, illustration, monochrome, intricate, detail, city, cities, building, buildings, upper playground

Tolman has focused on the built environment—cities and suburbs, real and imagined, and the effects that they have, for better or for worse, on the people who inhabit them.

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LIGHTED APHORISMS BY RIK SMITS

by Ariadna Zierold

rik smits, illustration, drawing, monochrome, city, cities, cityscape, landscape, buildings, nature, pencil, upper playground

Rik Smits is a Dutch artist who works with several media. His large pencil drawings depict cities and landscapes sceneries, sometimes with a realistic attitude and other times with touches of surrealism or a narrative theme.

rik smits, illustration, drawing, monochrome, city, cities, cityscape, landscape, buildings, nature, pencil, upper playground

“My work deals with the relation between religion and capitalism, which is depicted in a scenery of architectural landscapes/cityscapes. These landscapes show the contours of an imaginary city. A city which breathes the human ambition towards power and status. Its large scale buildings reminds us of the industrial utopia’s which prevailed in the human mind, but failed to shine or provide peace and humanity in the real world.The most prominent facet of this city is perhaps its appearance, from which one can easily read that the main ideology of its inhabitants is Capitalism. But this ideology is beginning to manifest itself in a religious manner, and will maybe even become a religion itself.” Rik Smits

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DETAILED CITIES BY VASCO MOURAO

by Ariadna Zierold

vasco mourao, architecture, illustration, portugal, barcelona, city, cities, buildings, detailed, monochrome, drawing, intricate, upper playground

Vasco Mourao is an architect and illustrator originally from Portugal who now lives and works in Barcelona. His densely illustrated cities and structures are drawn entirely by hand and while all are of course fictional places, they often incorporate real buildings.

vasco mourao, architecture, illustration, portugal, barcelona, city, cities, buildings, detailed, monochrome, drawing, intricate, upper playground

Mourao has an unparalleled eye for detail and underlying structures that has led to a full-time career drawing buildings. He describes himself as having a ‘tendency for obsessive drawings,’ starting with an early focus on horses, but growing to encompass entire cities in his own intricate style.

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THE URBAN ACUPUNCTURE OF FRANCISCO DIAZ

by Ariadna Zierold

francisco diaz, pastelfd, wall, mural, city, nature, upper playground

Francisco Diaz sees modern cities full of “non-places” because of the irregular and not inclusive masterplanning. These places are the canvases for his paintings.

francisco diaz, pastelfd, wall, mural, city, nature, upper playground
He works on experiences, considering the space where he gets to create his work:  a city, a rural space, an open space or a closed space. Working with symbolism like arrowheads and flora, the pieces begin a dialogue about the nature of man and his surroundings. The existential, real, pure and tragic elements, almost forgotten in modern society.

francisco diaz, pastelfd, wall, mural, city, nature, upper playground francisco diaz, pastelfd, wall, mural, city, nature, upper playground francisco diaz, pastelfd, wall, mural, city, nature, upper playground

MOUNTAINS AND SKYSCRAPERS MADE FROM MAPS AND BOOKS

by Ariadna Zierold

ji zhou, civilized landscape, books, maps, mountains, city, buildings, the citrus report

Blocky skylines made from stacked books dominate one side of the gallery in Chinese artist Ji Zhou‘s new show at Klein Sun Gallery and first U.S. solo show, Civilized Landscape, while crinkled maps become mountain ranges on the other.

“My concerns lie in why more and more cities are becoming visually identical and boring in their cityscapes.” 

ji zhou, civilized landscape, books, maps, mountains, city, buildings, the citrus report

Ji Zhou specializes in capturing ephemeral ideas and moments in beautifully composed photographs. For example, after a fire in his Beijing studio coated it in ash, he responded with Dust (2010), a photo series in which every surface is colored with monochrome, ashy grey. In Civilized Landscape, he responds to the construct of civilization as a whole.

ji zhou, civilized landscape, books, maps, mountains, city, buildings, the citrus report

The “Maps” portion was improvised and sculpted straight from Zhou’s imagination, while the “Maquette” cityscapes are the result of meticulous planning. Zhou sees books as “channels to receive and accumulate knowledge,” while maps are two dimensional repositories of information: “My opinions on cities and civilization mainly comes from books I’ve read,” he says, “Associating maps with landscapes is almost an innate relationship to me, a theory probably be caused by my teenage dreams about the world.”

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Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 @ De Young Museum

tress man bus stop 602x600 Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 @ De Young Museum de young museum arthur tress 1964

San Francisco in 1964 was probably a very interesting place to be. GOP conventions, the Beatles, growing city, and Arthur Tress was there to capture it. Right now at the de Young Museum in SF, there is a great exhibition on display titled Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964.

In the summer of 1964, San Francisco was ground zero for an historic culture clash as the site of the 28th Republican National Convention and the launch of the Beatles’ first North American tour. In the midst of the excitement, a young photographer new to the city was snapping pictures not of the politicians or musicians but of the people in the crowds and on the streets. Arthur Tress, an accomplished American photographer, made more than nine hundred negatives in San Francisco during the spring and summer of 1964—among his earliest documentary work. Exulting in juxtapositions of the mundane and the absurd, Tress captured the chaos of civil rights demonstrations and political rallies, the idiosyncratic moments of San Francisco’s locals, the peculiar contents of shop windows, a miscellany of odd signs and much more.

Tress developed and printed his black-and-white negatives in a communal darkroom in the city’s Castro district before departing San Francisco in the fall of 1964. The vintage prints were packed away in his sister’s house, coming to light again only in 2009. The rediscovery of this forgotten body of work inspired the photographer to revisit his early negatives, and Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 is the delightful outcome.

Tress 25 605x601 Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 @ De Young Museum de young museum arthur tress 1964

tress ringo 605x602 Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 @ De Young Museum de young museum arthur tress 1964

Weirdo

tears and coyotes blood web 605x475 Weirdo weirdo old crow tattoo and gallery oakland

Weirdo has been a NW graffiti artist for over 10 years. He’s done a few of the biggest solo mural projects in the Seattle, and has worked hand in hand with the city to make it a more colorful place. His latest body of work is a series of canvases for the Old Crow Gallery, and really shows his new level of photo realism on a smaller scale. ~Jen Vertz (www.weirdocult.com)

What else have you been up to in the last year?
Well, one of the biggest things was going to Art Basel in 2011 this year to paint on a wall with Lords, and my crew OSH PT. It was amazing to experience Basel first hand, and to be out there with everyone was a real fun time. Another big thing was being forced to move last fall, it took too much time out of my schedule.

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Tell me a bit about Art Basel…
It was one of the most intense mural situations I’ve ever been in, with so many people painting at the same time. It was really inspiring, both motivational, and creatively as well. I also hope I get to do it again in 2012, I wouldn’t want to miss it again.

Screen shot 2012 02 27 at 9.18.07 PM Weirdo weirdo old crow tattoo and gallery oakland

What about moving studios?
It’s been different. Things have happened and changed in my life- the art building I used to be a part of is no longer- the state kicked everyone out of the 619 Western Arts Building for an upcoming tunnel project for Seattle, and that’s been a huge influence over the last year. The move took a month, searching for a place took a few months, and I found a good small work space, but for my bigger pieces, I’m actually still looking for a work area. I’ve done a few pieces outside, but it’s not always easy- like the 25′ long mural for Razorfish marketing I just did in December under the highway… so the move changed a lot for me, but I’m still doin’ it.

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What’s coming up for you in the future?
After the “Sweeping of Giants” show at the Old Crow in Oakland, I have a solo show in May at the Vermillion Gallery in Seattle that I’m really excited about. I’ll be doing a 40′ long mural installation in the gallery, it’s going to be really fucking big! In between those shows in April, I’ll be headed to Nashville to paint a mural on the outside of the AIA’s [American Institute of Architecture] residence of the year for 2011, which is a great honor to be able to put artwork on the outside of someone else’s artwork! What a trip…! Next week I will have a coffin in the “Boxes of Death” show by Electric Coffin that will be headed on a tour down the West Coast… I’ve been busy lately!

Dark Matter 605x598 Weirdo weirdo old crow tattoo and gallery oakland

How are you handling the busy schedule?
Working close to my home really helps, my studio is just downstairs from my apartment. Not taking too many projects at once, but picking the right ones and knowing when to say no. You say yes to what sounds interesting and challenging, and no to what isn’t going to push you as an artist. I thrive on being challenged. If it’s new or big or scary- anything like that I always say yes. And it’s taken many years to figure some of this out. Doing work out of WA state keeps me on a very strict deadline, which I like a lot. You have to finish by your flight out… The pressure is what I work well under.

Any big goals for the next year?
Mainly for 2012 is to become more nationally recognized for my art, and doing more fine art based mural projects rather than commercial ones. As always working on my technical skills to become stronger with realism and to master my tools. And I’m still a free agent, but soon I want to be represented by a gallery. I’ve had a few offers, just not the right ones.

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You can catch up with Weirdo at the “Sweeping of Giants” show at the Old Crow Gallery in Oakland on March 10th from 6-10, or from the 9th through the 11th he will be painting live at the UC Berkley Campus on a mural project near the Anthropology Department. Catch up with him www.facebook.com/weirdocult for more details. www.weirdocult.com/

From The Citrus Report

Posted By The Citrus Report

Hush

3 paintings lo Hush Street Art newcastle interview Hush 941 geary

Hush is the moniker of UK-based artist known worldwide for his beautifully constructed abstract Geisha images that are a juxtaposition of both traditional graffiti and abstract expressionism. Heavily inspired by the aesthetic of street art and armed with an in-depth technique that includes painting, screen printing, spray-painting and collage, he has continued to create new works that instantly draw the eye in and holds the viewer’s focus. —James Pawlish / The Citrus Report


JP: Who is HUSH? Tells us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been making art, did you have any sort of formal training?

Hush: I’ve been making art all my life, from first experiences in graffiti to graphic design. I always made my own art and have been painting seriously for the last fifteen years. I studied illustration & graphic design at art school for five years.

Sirens light lo Hush Street Art newcastle interview Hush 941 geary

I read an interview where you used the phrases “action painting” and “pure expressionism” to describe your practice. Do you find abstract expressionism and graffiti to have similarities in terms of approach and hand style?

I think now that graffiti has had time to be reflected on as an art form, there would be a serious argument for the action of tagging, dubs etc to be taken seriously as a form of abstract expressionism or action painting and can be seen as a contemporary art form. Of course this is down to the viewers discretion, but that is true in how all art is viewed I suppose.

Tell us a bit about your creative process and the method of distressing your canvases.

I play with lots of ideas in the paintings that I make and like to reference a lot of movements, past and present. I have always loved that old graf rule about how a throw can go over a tag, a dub over a throw, a piece over a dub and so on.

I love the transient way in which work on the street evolves and usually looks more at home the longer it settles, gets tagged over, degrades and fades. I try to create all these actions and mistakes in the studio. I always create two of each painting and work on them simultaneously, partly for the fact that I will take more risks on one, so my work progresses; there does come a point where I will only finish one as it becomes obvious which one is working.

I also do this so that when i make a new painting i can go over the discarded painting and leave remains of it visible to the viewer. I kind of take pleasure in knowing that there was a good piece and lots of work underneath a painting. It always feels uncomfortable working on a clean canvas, I like the feel and textures of a worked-on canvas. It gives it some life straight away and the complexity of a piece matters to me, I like the viewer to discover this.

sirens dark large lo Hush Street Art newcastle interview Hush 941 geary

I understand you worked in Japan for quite some time…What was that like, and how did it shape your style?

I worked and lived in South East Asia for a few years; it was an extremely important influence on my life both philosophically and visually. The way the East, especially the youth, adopt western styles and cultural influences but struggle with holding onto traditional values is of interest to me and my work. The place is a melting pot and very inspirational. It has influenced my work greatly and has me thinking about a combination of factors; when you add my interpretation of this, we end up with a very eclectic mix. I try to capture and contradict these cross cultural differences and influences in my work.

Your work seems to be a juxtaposition of everything from pop art and abstraction to anime and comics. Are you tying to break the bridge between “high” and “low” art?

Not so much the anime these days but it is still an influence. However, when I see graffiti, especially tagging, as a form of expressionism or a political action, and when lots of it is seen in one place on the street, it creates a visual image like nothing else I can compare it to. It’s beautiful.

Taking it from the street and applying it to the work you make in the gallery setting is difficult. That’s why I approach it as action painting; it could easily be determined as abstract expressionism also. You need to capture that instantaneous decision to make the mark. That’s why I have canvases continuously around the studio. I throw everything at them, tag them, throws, the lot. It feels like it carries a bit of that excitement. It also places this movement into a category that is continuing to build on past art movements, which every new movement does.

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A large portion of your work is centered on the female form. Is there any specific reason why?

I like to keep the eyes dark so the viewer can’t connect with the personality, the figures then become somewhat serene or mysterious. The figures are important in finishing the composition of the piece as before they are formed it’s purely abstraction.

When I make my art I try to translate my interest in tagging, graff, decay and street art aesthetics into my work and juxtapose it with images of beauty, sensuality and the female form; allowing the later to be seen in a more positive way. The act of a tag is no doubt beautiful in its own right but fusing the two together in an expressionist action creates something in its own right and puts questions out there.

What artists have been a big influence on you?

There’s a lot of talent out there but my real influences are Eduardo Paolozzi, Mimmo Rotella, Matthew Ritche, Takashi Murakami, Designers Republic, Inka Essenhigh, Simon Bisley, Roy Lichenstien, Banksy, Peter Blake, Vaughan Oliver, Ian Swift and Robert Rauschenberg, to name a few. James Jean, David Choe, Connor Harrington, and Brad Downey have all been creating fantastic work lately.

I’m influenced by every person in the scene. Probably every artist, past and future! Definitely music has an influence on my work, coming from that whole dance music, electro, hip hop scene, it just makes the work more relevant and seems to make sense in the way that it compliments the work – even in the way that it doesn’t take itself too seriously as well.

large siren lo Hush Street Art newcastle interview Hush 941 geary

You’re not a stranger to San Francisco, having had a sold out show in 2010 at Shooting Gallery. What is it you love about the city? Do you find yourself getting inspiration from the local arts scene?

I’ve shown a few times here now with Fifty24SF Gallery, Shooting Gallery, White Walls & 941 Geary. I love the place, the people, the liberal attitudes, everybody seems to have a creative awareness here, it’s a very inspiring place. I have had the pleasure of meeting and hooking up with a lot of artists living and working in SF from Apex, Neon & Vulcan to Eine, Blek le Rat & Roa to Aaron Nagel, Casey Gray & Brett Armory…. from that list you can imagine how inspiring it can be.