Colombian illustrator Juan Osorno’s surreal astro-anatomical illustrations are not only an expression of the imagination but of the very experience of drawing. Faces that cave into landscapes and galaxies, anatomically precise studies of a hand that spill into a cascade of blood vein-like roots.
Osorno’s work is imbued with the scientific precision of botanical drawings and an almost mathematical examination of perspective and space within the two-dimensional paper palette. The combination of beautiful natural elements like geometric shapes, constellations and the human body make very interesting images, showing a deeper, more emotional, layer than the images you find in anatomical books.
Blake Neubert is an American painter, illustrator and writer now based in Fort Collins, Colorado. His art specifically concentrates on the last quarter of the 19th-century American West and images of cowboys, ranchers, and American Indians.
Although he began his career painting relatively standard Western Americana, he has recently blazed a bold new trail into more strange and surreal work. On his Instagram page and YouTube channel, you’ll find multiple videos of what is quickly becoming a signature style: he paints a figure, typically something you’d expect to see in your great aunt’s collection of kitschy thrift store art, then to finish the piece, slides a razor blade across the top layer of paint to reveal a hidden perversity beneath.
The finished work is a morbid curiosity—you just can’t help but stare and wonder why exactly Superman has terrifying bloodshot eyes or how the blonde beauty got a ball gag in her mouth.
Toronto based Elly Smallwood is a contemporary artist who focuses on expressive portraits. In her portraits, Smallwood explores the distortion of the face through movement and expression by abstracting the form through messy brush strokes and sometimes even layering multiple images/sketches over the top.
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.
Midwest based painter Stuart Snoddy works on paper and on canvas. He moves between the wistful and the contemplative.
“I paint fantasy. I paint the fantasy of me. This is my story complete with the screw-ups, the pleasures, and the pleasant fictions. Who am I? I wasn’t born here. I have never known a “blood” relative. I’ve never looked upon the face of someone with the same genes as I have. Never seen my eyes in someone else. I paint people that surface from a yearning imagination. Some are illuminated by the refulgence of past encounters like a glowing filament in a freshly turned off light bulb. And some come from…who knows, or wherever. I guess I just miss my friends. Nostalgia is real sticky stuff. But this fantasy nurtures the narratives of our lives as cohesive intellectual and emotional beings. I indulge it.” Stuart Snoddy
Surface often provides the dominant metaphor in the work of Sally Bourke and more recently this has turned towards thinking about the nature of fabric and its relationship to skin with its capacity to project an image of self and to protect at one and the same time.
The faces and scenes she portrays in her work are attempts to make reconciliations with her past, live in the present and imagine the future. She paints people from the inside out. At any given moment she is working on around ten to twenty paintings at a time in the studio. That way she can sit with them and see which demands her attention the most. She works across multiple mediums and is constantly experimenting with them to create new ways of telling her stories.
UK artist Carl Beazley’s portraits are twisted and multiplied, clearly surreal, yet based on real faces with their pores and blemishes. Completely self-taught, the 26-year old artist credits his unique point of view to being able to find his own voice absent the outside influence of teachers or mentors.
“By not going to University and not studying the all different painting techniques from history, I feel it has given me the freedom of learning from trial and error. I am always trying to look for something new and original that’s never been done before, and although I love the paintings of the old masters, it is important to me to look to the future so that in a hundred years from now we have our own history, not just a regurgitated version of the generation that came before us. If we don’t try to take art to the next level by looking forward, we will just end up going in circles.” Carl Beazley
Daniel Boccato worked on wall-mounted sculptures moulded with corrugated plastic, tarp and tape. His work preserves the spontaneity of preliminary sketches, its frank, childlike energy amplified in strong colors and punchy 3-D. Each piece originates in a throw-away mould which once painted and reinforced with fibreglass and epoxy is discarded, leaving only the negative impression marks of the final surface.
Sam Jedig‘s works raise an question about how we interpret ourselves and reality as it is presented to us through the steady flow of images of mass culture. The fragments of images in the works have been removed from their original context in what concerns both time and place. The safe and well-known world is turned upside-down by these new and unexpected juxtapositions. Sam Jedig’s point is that this “real world” only exists as long as we, together, maintain and confirm its existence.
George Raftopoulos was born in Sydney in 1972, the son of Greek parents. In the 1970s, the Raftopouloses found themselves to be the only Greek family in the New South Wales town of Grenfell. George had questions of cultural identity in his youth and continues to do so in his paintings today.
Raftopoulos’s paintings have always possessed an expressionist fierceness. He describes his method of painting as an “interactive process”, in that it is undertaken without the safety net of preliminary studies. His work of the mid-1990s was full of human/animal hybrids, inhabiting a world that combined playfulness with anxiety and apprehension.
Line plays a key role in his current painting, and his line is both economical and swift. It is as firm and elastic as cartilage. Most of Raftopoulos’s works of the last couple of years have turned on a single color, which sets the temper of the painting. Recently that sole color has often been a primary color.