Memphis-based Alex Paulus’ paintings reflect the denial of a shitty existence. Paulus has created a crowded installation of grotesque figurative paintings that are unapologetically in your face and ridiculously successful. He combines acrylic, oil and paint marker to create a variety of textures, which also add depth to his works.
A variety of misshapen and jumbled characters inhabit Alex’s canvases, and his figures are depicted trying out VR headsets, swimming with dolphins and windsurfing on a Papa John slice of pizza. Alex’s work is surreal, yet the topical and pop culture references he includes not only add humor but also keeps them grounded in a familiar sort of reality.
New York based Alfred Steiner describes his work as drawing influence from both “art historical and pop cultural sources, especially those with a penchant for the grotesque,” and lists Hieronymus Bosch and Homer Simpson among his inspirations.
Steiner’s cartoonish watercolors are made through a laborious process: he slowly gathers fragments of unseemly images—including those of toys, half-eaten fruit, rotting teeth, dead insects, sea creatures, artillery, and sexual organs—that he then pieces together into narrative compositions or resemblances of pop culture icons. Steiner’s practice is also informed by the artist’s prior 15-year career as a copyright and trademark lawyer, and his extensive knowledge of intellectual property regulations.
Brooklyn based Christian Rex Van Minnen‘s paintings are part Old Masters, part mad scientist, part carnival. Classical still life and portraiture are reimagined with sumptuous beauty that paradoxically can be hard to look at. But it is van Minnen’s masterful technique and eye that draw the viewer again to consider that which looks impossible.
“I think it’s interesting to take away the eyes and mouth. In a way it makes it easier on the viewer, myself included. It allows for a more prolonged voyeurism and freedom to explore the figure. Like staring at a blind man.” Christian Rex Van Minnen
Thierry Bruet has painted and sculpted for over 35 years. His grand canvases shaped by a consciously classical slant and executed with traditional oil techniques, are witty, satirical and replete with carefully observed details. One side of him tends towards caricature and the grotesque, the other towards elegance and refinement.
Jessica Stoller uses clay and the grotesque as a vehicle to explore the constructed world of idealized femininity, gathering imagery across cultural lines and histories. The clay is sculpted, draped, carved, woven, and piped to create a wide range of bewildering effects. Porcelain is her primary medium, a historically weighted material that is intrinsically linked to notions of desire, mystery, and consumption.
Karel Havlíček was a Czech painter who began drawing at the age of 38 years. Working only at night, he followed a ritual reminiscent of the conditioning of the automatic practices. His drawings without premeditation recall, by their spontaneity, spiritualist production. He felt drawn to the monstrous, grotesque or the pathological.
He found fulfillment in visiting natural museums, reading his favorite Kant and Schopenhauer and especially in drawing. He drew a picture every day for tens of years. The communist regime did not allow to display his work and so he was recognized only by a few artists and writers.
Aida Makoto was born in 1965 and gained a Masters in Fine Art from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1991. From the outset of his career, Aida began to paint in the style of ‘strangeness’ that identifies him today and which saw him regularly exhibiting across Japan from 1992, and from 2001 internationally in Germany, London and the USA.
It is perhaps easy to write off Makoto as a pop artist out to shock with images of grotesque sexuality, young girls and violence. However, a deeper look into his philosophy as an artist shows he is using traditional themes to comment on contemporary Japanese society.
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.
Mattis Dovier has a talent for creating GIFs that are pleasing to the eye but have a habit of turning your stomach ever so slightly. His eye-popping GIFs are on another level.
Dovier works in an unmistakable style, one he described as “stripped of unnecessary details.” First Dovier draws each frame by hand in low resolution. Then he fills in shadows with pixel grids converted in Photoshop’s bitmap mode. The end result is somewhere between numeric and classic aesthetics like engravings, as well as the screentone process characteristic of manga.
Mason Lindroth’s work exists somewhere between the realm of a hellish nightmare, surreal art, and collages. It’s all those things, and also none of them. Lindroth’s repeated animated aesthetic is wholly unique. The objects themselves are grotesque, ranging from eerie blank-staring faces to vintage stock-like footage of families. Nothing blends together, it becomes a distorted conglomerate of gif-able lo-fi clipart.
You can recognize Lindroth work due to the sparing, dotty Apple II-like visuals and use of claymation. The aesthetic compliments Mason’s interest in warping the ordinary: black-and-white is the status quo, whereas color can punctuate a peculiar presence with immediacy.