IMPERMANENCE BY JUAN TRAVIESO

by Ariadna Zierold

juan travieso, cuba, painting, miami, new york, impermanence, decay, pop, realism, abstraction, animals, nature, upper playground

Juan Travieso is an artist based in Miami and New York.  His work explores notions of impermanence and decay through a combined language of pop, realism, and abstraction. Figures, be them humans or animals, are broken up into spaces and forms much like 3d models, speaking to both their temporality and transition into the digital age.

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IMPERMANENCE AND DECAY BY JUAN TRAVIESO

by Ariadna Zierold

juan travieso, painting, animal, human, impermanence, decay, digital, pop, realism, abstraction, icons, upper playground

Miami and New York based artist Juan Travieso‘s work explores notions of impermanence and decay through a combined language of pop, realism, and abstraction. Figures, be them humans or animals, are broken up into spaces and forms much like 3d models, speaking to both their temporality and transition into the digital age.

juan travieso, painting, animal, human, impermanence, decay, digital, pop, realism, abstraction, icons, upper playground

His paintings involve images ranging from Soviet propaganda and cartoons, to the iconic figures of the Cuban revolution. Woven inside is the personal and how these personal and cultural icons are in constant conflict and transformation. Ambitious and daring are qualities in the very flesh of his work. Travieso is a dynamic maker he approaches painting with great appetite and produces a feast for the eyes and mind.

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MASHED-UP PHOTO-REALISM BY SEAN NORVET

by Ariadna Zierold

sean norvet, illustration, painting, portrait, food, collage, realism, humor, cartoon, disturbing, upper playground

Sean Norvet is an artist and illustrator born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. His paintings are usually precisely executed in oils on panels, but his style and subjects reflect the media-saturated, commercialized environment we inhabit today. His work is often deconstructive and simultaneously jarring, intense, hilarious and disturbing.

sean norvet, illustration, painting, portrait, food, collage, realism, humor, cartoon, disturbing, upper playground

Norvet’s art is sometimes explosive, sometimes still, and often mashes up elegant photo-realism with two-dimensional cartoon buffoonery. His three-dimensional sculptural installations, usually involving food, offer a satiric, ephemeral cheapness in which the medium is the message. As urgent and commanding as his images are, he playfully invites viewers in to share the laugh.

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Sculpting in the Dark | RUSSELL CAMERON

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron’s grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. “Russell’s main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer.”

The realism and surrealism of Cameron’s beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us.

Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project “Flesh and Bone” to a gallery near you.

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (1)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (2)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (3)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (4)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (5)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (6)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (7)

Darkness is said to be the absence of light, but what if darkness is the evidence of life? One look at Russell Cameron's grotesque sculptures may have you gagging, but then suddenly a realization can hit the viewer: this IS life; this is what I avoid bringing into awareness, and just because I avoid it, it doesn't mean it's not there. "Russell's main objective when creating a sculpture is to give it life, feeling and a place among us, whether it be a classic bust or a deformed limb mounted on a sheet of wood the piece should speak and tell a story to the viewer." The realism and surrealism of Cameron's beautifully crafted sculptures made of metal, clay, paint and wood, brings to life the stories that live among us and in us. Russel Cameron is a self-taught sculptor from Brooklyn, New York, hopefully bringing his ongoing project "Flesh and Bone" to a gallery near you. Via news.upperplayground.com (8)
 

 

“TURNING THE TIDE” BY JENNY MORGAN

by Ariadna Zierold

jenny morgan, portrait, psychological, colorful, abstraction, realism, emotion, upper playground

Brooklyn based artist Jenny Morgan‘s vivid oil paintings capture an honesty about her subjects, drawn in a candid moment in the nude when they are at their most vulnerable. Morgan’s electrifying figurative work balances abstraction and realism, combining beautiful design aesthetics with her subject’s unique complexion and emotion. She has described her work as “psychological portraits”, focused on presenting the sitter’s psychological state.

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GORGEOUS PAINTINGS BY PAUL FENNIAK

by Ariadna Zierold

paul fenniak, realism, haunting, figurative, representation, canada, painting, upper playground

Paul Fenniak was born in 1965 in Toronto, Canada. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and a Master of Fine Art degree from Concordia University, Montreal.

paul fenniak, realism, haunting, figurative, representation, canada, painting, upper playground

He is a master of the psychological realism. There is a genuinely haunting, cinematic monumentality. It reminds one that the narrative as well as painterly possibilities of traditional, figurative representation are still far from exhausted.

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CONTEMPORARY REALISM BY ROBERT C. JACKSON

by Ariadna Zierold

robert c. jackson, realism, food, americana, painting, upper playground

The still life paintings of Robert C. Jackson are so fresh and playful.  His work is characterized by rich, primary colors, fun collections and deep Americana.

robert c. jackson, realism, food, americana, painting, upper playground

The assured, accomplished hand of Jackson easily places him among our most important mid-career American Realist painters.  Although grounded in a technique that is near classical in its complex, meticulously rendered imagery, it is the subject matter itself that delights us with its irony.

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SOCIAL REALISM BY GUNO PARK

by Ariadna Zierold

guno park, illustration, drawing, realism, upper playground

Guno Park was born in Seoul, Korea, raised in Toronto, Canada and now currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

guno park, illustration, drawing, realism, upper playground

He has been exhibiting internationally, illustrating for various projects and teaching drawing courses in New York. He has a passion for drawing and education, with deep interests in social realism. His work hangs in many private and public collections and has been widely published for editorial, educational and commercial projects.

guno park, illustration, drawing, realism, upper playground guno park, illustration, drawing, realism, upper playground guno park, illustration, drawing, realism, upper playground

DYSTOPIAN WORKS OF JUAN FORD

by Ariadna Zierold

juan ford, australia, portrait, painting, realism, upper playground

Manipulating nature himself, Juan Ford is driven by questioning humans’ impact on the bush; but also by a quest to stretch himself creatively. Ford has perhaps been best known as a realist painter, with portraits appearing in such major exhibitions as the Archibald Prize. The shift to large-scale installations was grounded, he admits, in ambition.

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Megan Van Groll

Posted from The Citrus Report

Megan Van Groll studies her own relation to body, function, and gender through her neo-realist interpretations, and does so in a way that feels mundanely human while rendering each piece particularly poignant and oddly evocative. Her ability to recreate scenes where egos and their respective bodies collide is truly a gift, especially since she uses it as a personal reflective tool, not as some thrift store badge of pseudo-hipsterness. Instead, her artwork serves as an honest intersection point – a place, outside our dreams, where we’re able to relive and rework the dynamics at hand, all the while cuddling and cajoling the aspects of personhood that some of us would surely like to see go by the wayside. Her unabashed undertaking of food and femininity sets the stage for work that could spiral off in various directions, and we’re glad to have caught up with her while she solidifies her current approach.

As masks of identity are peeled back by Megan’s culinary art, her intense, seemingly over-pixelated images are so real that they veer over the top; all the while allowing the viewer enough space to come to a variety of conclusions. If you need something more abstract, off you go… but when it comes to food for thought, Megan Van Groll has an appetite.

by Evan La Ruffa


EL: Your work admittedly prods at the way women relate to food….for as much as it appears in your work, would you rather people make their own judgment, or is there a specific message you’re trying to get across?

MVG: This is a tricky question. Some people feel that all art is political — that it’s impossible for the artist to separate herself from her beliefs or opinions when creating a work of art. Others feel that art with any kind of agenda is propaganda, not art. I want to make art that asks a question, not that delivers an answer. I want to make art that inspires introspection among its viewers. I don’t have answers to my own questions, if I did, it wouldn’t be interesting enough for me to base a painting on. The process of creating the painting and hearing the perspective of viewers inspires a better understanding of the topic at hand.

EL: Your aesthetic is fairly honed in. All your stuff almost feels like part of a series. Has your work always followed a theme?

MVG: The questions and topics that personally interest me certainly play a role in determining what kind of art I choose to make. I often work by deciding upon a theme or approach for an entire series at one time, and write down examples for possible subject matter, along with a first draft for a future artist statement. Only after much writing and introspection will I begin work on the first painting in that series. It takes a painfully long time for me to uncover a pattern or theme in my ideas that I feel has a solid chance of becoming a series, so there’s usually a long period of thinking, digesting, and waiting…but when the time is right, inspiration will come as a flash and within thirty minutes or so I’ve begun to plan every painting in the series.

EL: How do you think you came to settle on your aesthetic? What aspect of your life made your particular expression what it is today?

MVG: I love to make visceral images that immediately engage the viewer, and for my work, a neo-realistic or narrative style is the most effective for this. I also love the process of painting realistically. My left brained, perfectionist, list-making side, absolutely loves the hours agonizing over the tiny details of the human form, and the countless brush strokes that finally achieve a human likeness. My work is definitely a stylized form of realism, and one of the things I want to explore with future paintings is how I can more effectively use this disconnection from complete photorealism as a communication tool in and of itself.

EL: It feels to me like you’re trying out real-life situations through the fantasy of painting yourself into the scene, kind of like a dream…how do u view it?

MVG: There’s an element of surrealism to this aspect of my work. I of course wouldn’t be able to have a fight with myself, or walk around naked in public spaces. If I could, photography would be the most effective medium for me to use. I enjoy the fantastical result of creating a painting of something you can’t photograph. That’s been an effective tool for visual engagement, it’s also pretty fun.

EL: “Bakery Brawl” seems like a scene you were actually a part of, in fact, you describe it as a “double self-portrait”…explain that…

MVG: I love to watch my initial ideas unfold into something unexpected. Every painting I make turns out, in retrospect, to reflect whatever is going on in my world or my mind at the time that I make it. Bakery Brawl is a great example of this. I found a photo of two prostitutes at the beginning of a catfight and that was the basis for the pose of the two women in that painting. I recreated it with new reference images and I ended up using myself as the model. I didn’t intend for it to become a double self portrait when I first planned the painting, but I think it’s interesting that it did. The aggression reflected on a personal point of tension in my life as a young person — and a young painter — figuring things out, figuring myself out and where I fit in this world — and particularly the art world. When I became cognizant of this, I realized that this personal dialogue parallels the rather complicated current state of gender roles. In its own way and without intending to, Bakery Brawl marked the expansion of my artistic focus from the personal to the interpersonal, exploring identity construction within the framework of female relationships and communities.

EL: In your artist statement, you say “I’m fascinated by the obsessive, erotic, and somewhat dark role of food in the female consciousness.” How do you see food as both erotic and dark? Can they be so at the same time?

MVG: Food is such a sensual matter. Even just texturally speaking; it can be soft, lush, sweet, dripping, messy, fleshy, warm, spongey… It nourishes us, and satisfies our hunger and cravings. We have a complicated relationship to our food, especially women and especially American women. We both crave certain foods — and are even addicted to these foods — and fear and loathe them. A cupcake, to name an example, is not just a cupcake. It’s a loaded cultural symbol — for guilty pleasure, for excess, for reward, for personal responsibility, broken goals, self-loathing and for everything we don’t like about ourselves. For everything personal we know is in our power to change, and we can’t get there.

EL: Do you find that people are often perplexed by what you’re getting at, or do folks usually interpret your work the way you do? how does that affect what you decide to do next? or does it?

MVG: I want people to be a little perplexed. I don’t want my work to be a one-liner. I want it to be both accessible enough that you don’t need a Masters degree in Art History to feel that it holds cultural value for you, but complex enough that you feel compelled to explore the visual and psychological space of the image. That’s the challenge of painting semi-realistically and the anxiety of realistic painters: that the image might only be interpreted literally.

The process of choosing what to paint next is a natural evolution of my past work, the interpretation of it by others, and the dialogue that results. Hearing the perspectives of other people about my work has helped me understand new dimensions I didn’t anticipate. That’s the best part, for me – engaging the viewer in a dialogue, opening a portal for discussion. I encourage feedback. The interpretations of viewers does make its way into my future painting decisions, and any artist who claims otherwise is either fooling themselves or lying. However, it’s a delicate balancing act to choose when to listen and when not to; focusing too much on the potential reactions of viewers is paralyzing, unproductive, and clogs innovation.

EL: Besides making a commentary on food as it relates to femininity, what other aspects of your world view inform your art?

MVG: My father was in the Army for over twenty years so I moved around a lot when I was a kid, spending five of my earliest years in Germany. Constantly readjusting to new places every year or two and not having one place to honestly call a hometown resulted in a fascination with the psychology of identity formation. How we become who we are and how we come to understand ourselves relative to other people, societies, and cultural expectations such as gender roles or racial stereotypes is an underlying theme in all of my work.

EL: Are there other social dynamics, internalized or otherwise, that you look forward to engaging through your work in the future?

MVG: Absolutely. I’m very interested in exploring themes of identity — and my future work will likely be more immersed in this topic than my last few paintings, and probably in a more personal way.

EL: What are you working on now?

MVG: Just this week I had one of the aforementioned flashes of inspiration and began planning a new series. I’m not yet ready to talk about it more than I have, though. I’m still in draft mode.

EL: Name one artist or musician we should check out…

MVG: I’m really enjoying the intricate, colorful paintings of Michelle Hinebrook. I recently purchased a print of one of her pieces titled Sugarcoat from 20