Spectral Landscape

Check out one of the current exhibitions at Mocca Gallery, titled ‘Spectral Landscape’. The show displays the works of artists, Sarah Anne Johnson, Peter Doig and Tim Gardner. In this exhibition wilderness scenes are filled with hallucinatory and pastoral images, interrupting the realism of the landscapes with the unexpected.

Here is the link to the show, which will be on until April 2nd!


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Painting Progression


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Hernan Bas notes

Hernan Bas


What he paints

Hardy boys and almost sexual boys


Humour and tragedy

Literature/ poetry – decadent/ impassioned –Jorris-karl huysmas , oscar wilde

Transcendental poets – emerson , Thoreau , Alcott

Dark romantics – poe, Melville, hawthorne , Dickinson

Death / supernatural

Romantic heroes, wayward dandies , young men

Sexual tension

Nihilism / desperation

Oil / acrylic



Loose brush strokes

Homo erotic


“ eccentric decadence”  being poor and decadent

Young men struggling with being closeted and coming out

Blake/ el Greco comparison  Elizabeth Peyton and Karen Kilimnik



Born 1978 miami fl

moved to Detroit recently

He graduated in 1996 from the New World School of the Arts in Miami



Hernan Bas (American, b. 1978). The Blue Line, 2005–06. Acrylic, gouache, water-based oil, and collage on paper. The Rubell Family Collection, Miami


“Ubu Roi (the war march),” 2009. 84×144 inches.


Hernan Bas, The Swan Prince, 2004, Acrylic and gouache on canvas, 30 x 40″, Rubell Family Collection, Miami.


“My art is always going to be queer in some way simply because of my interets – it probably has that sensibility, but I would not want to end up in an art historic gay chapter, I would like my art to touch upon universal matters”.



Ruebell family 10 yr survey at 31

rnan Bas will have his fifth solo exhibition at Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami (www.snitzer.com) in March 2011. In 2010 Bas will show at Victoria Miro Gallery and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris. Hernan Bas: Works from the Rubell Family Collection debuted in Miami at The Rubell Family Collection in December 2007.


Installation work


Mermaids and tortoise shell





vitamin P2










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Research Notes on Robert Williams

-born 1943 Albuquerque, New Mexico
-1963 moved to California
-went to Los Angeles City College and The Chouinard Art Institute
-Got a job offer from Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth as Art Director
-Underground comics worked on Zap Comics. Met Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton
-Did some commercial work ie/ Guns and Roses album cover
-Oil paintings wouldnt show in galleries/museums. Sold by word of mouth to Debbie Harry, Nicholas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio
-1992 MoCA in LA curator Paul Schimnel. Show with Jim Shaw, Chris Burden and Mike Kelly who wanted Robert. Feminist hated his work and his show flopped. Art world said ” Robert Williams in indefensible”
- Launched ‘Art Alternatives’ magazine. Publisher lost interest and dropped him.
-1994 launched Juxtapoz with 25,000 in circulation, 2005 over 75,000. Wanted to show NY art scene that representational art is not dead and is still evolving and great. 2005 show at Tony Shafrazi gallery NY with Rene Magritte, David La Chapelle.
Read comics as a kid, cars and b-movies also a big influence. Comics have a time element where every image only leads you to the next. Prefers painting because you can still have a strong narrative but you control everything.
-Defines his own work as Lowbrow Imagism
-Influenced Mudwig and Nate Van Dyke amongst others, anyone who loves Juxtapoz mag.
-comment by Mat Gleason, in the context that the artists art is in battle: “William kicks Jasper Johns in the balls, hard. They are in a large pool of blood formed by the recently slaughtered David Hockney.”
“He illustrates how biology leads people into temptation and that rationalism is the only salve to our animal hearts.
-His comic book interests fostered his Zombie Mystery Painting a book containing 40 paintings the introduction was written by Robert Crumb.
-Other books with Robert as author or artist: Conceptual Realism: In the Service of the Hypothetical; Lowbrow Art of Robert Williams; Kustom Kulture: Von Dutch, Ed “BIg Daddy” Roth, Robert Williams and Others; Pop Surrealism: The Rise of the Underground Art; The Hot Rod World of Robert Williams

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Hey everyone, today I had the pleasure of attending my former professor, Sean McQuay’s art show at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington. The exhibition explores themes such as time, distance and lingering thoughts and concepts. If you are in the Durham area, such as myself I recommend you check it out! The exhibition will be on for the whole month of march. The show is great to get you inspired and ready to channel your inner creativity.



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The Artist Project

Hey guys, I’m going to the artist project today and I think everyone should check it out! It shows works from over 200 artists and It goes till Sunday!

Heres the info


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John Currin

brief bio

-       born in Boulder, Colorado in 1962

-       grew up in Connecticut

-       BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 1984

-       MFA from Yale in 1986


-       Peachy skin tone & frill from French Rococo paintings

-       Norman Rockwell

-       16th century German, Lucas Cranach

-       Distended anatomies and distorted proportions of Northern Renaissance & early Mannerist works

-       Face, makeup, mannerisms and hairstyles borrowed from contemporary advertisements, magazines and movies

cultural influences

-       looks to antiquity often

-       pinup magazines, school girls

-       movies

-       pornography

-       not interested as much in live models

-       pornography began when a friend offered him a magazine clipping of a cartoon that he thought Currin would find interesting, yet Currin found the pornographic image on the back much more stimulating

-       began using specifically Danish porn shots

-       “I love grand, classically nude paintings and there is really no situation where plausibly you have criss-crossing limbs and stuff like that except in pornography.”

-       “I thought it would be interesting to make them explicit and see if there is any mystery or any space left after you completely drain the potential. It’s like when you don’t show things, you build up a kind of voltage. So what happens if you totally open it up? Is the painting going to have any kind of energy at all? In a way, these are very unisexual paintings.”

-       Currin says his more sexual paintings were also inspired oddly by an Islamic dispute (a furious reaction to the publication by  a Danish newspaper in 2005 of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohamed)

-       Currin was angered by the fact that The New York Times and Time magazine wouldn’t publish the cartoon “After people had been killed over these things, they wouldn’t show people what it was about.”

-       He is worried about Europe and thinks that Europe is losing the war against Islam (he thinks there is a war against Islam)

-       He chooses to depict these sexual encounters as Europe

-       “Often, I find myself attracted to ideas that are ill-advised and bad…It’s not because I want to shock people or show how open-minded I am, but for some reason stupidity is a theme for me in painting and I find it liberating…I don’t know why, but I feel freer. But perhaps there is some need I have to redeem this silliness with something really solemn and somber and beautiful.”



stylistic techniques

-       idealizes women and exaggerates the concept of “beauty” present in renaissance art of thickness or fat (as a sign or presence of wealth)

-       exaggerates this through the rounding or bulging often of the stomach or breasts

-       faces are usually idealized and placated, seeming all too docile yet unsettling

-       initial preparation for painting includes much drawing before attacking the canvas

-       often times years are spent on small drawn drafts

-       oil paintings, muted colour palette to accentuate a feeling of coldness

-       colour palatte adds to the feeling of discomfort that can be drawn from his images

-       paintings on average take 2-3 years to complete


things I was particularly interested by/what drew me to Currin

-       most of his artwork is initially received with disgust but from what I have read, there is no critic that can deny his technically ability and stylistic prowess

I find myself being more draw to art works that make me feel uncomfortable. I think that is an aspect of art that almost everyone is intruigued by because we want to know what causes this discomfort. There is an eerie quality to Currin’s works that makes me feel inconclusive on his decisions while creating. The facial features and the placement of the hands on the figure are I think the cause of this discomfort. Currin references the hand placement of Da Vinci’s work many times. Awkward and almost unnatural gestures make the viewer feel ill at ease. The absent yet cheerful impressions commonly found in his works are often unsettling.

Something I found interesting through my research was the amount of times critics referred to Currin as satirist. In an interview with Daniel Kunitz for Blouin Artinfo Currin says “Whenever I see the word satire in a review, my heart sinks…I think of my work as pretty solemn, but it comes out as satire, I guess.” Its interesting how Currin’s art largely isn’t seen the way he intends.

I also found it interesting how he says his art radically changed after 9/11, and he mentions how it really affected him. He wondered in an interview if his fans would notice the change in his works.


Initially I was drawn to Currin because I admired his stylistic choices in muted tone and obvious distortion yet seemingly accurate proportion. The unease caused by his paintings was really appealing to me as an artwork. After reading interviews with him I appreciate him not only as a means of producing great works, but he seems to be an interesting person with interesting ideas that feel similar to mine. Currin says that no matter the amount of time a work takes he will not give up on it. I am the same in that way (although none of my works have yet to take 10 years to complete).

When being asked about the connections he draws between his pornographic works and Islamic conflict he says “ ‘Neither do I understand the connection, actually,’ Currin confesses, laughing slightly.” This quote made him feel more real to me, because I idealize his works so much, this grounded him and made him more personable which I found interesting. Although he wishes his art to carry heavy meaning, he is very playful when addressing his works and his lifestyle.

works cited

“About This Artwork: John Currin, Nude on a Table, 2001.” The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 2012.

“John Currin: The filth and the fury.” The Independent, 2 Derry Street London, March 16, 2008.

“A Can of Worms.” Frieze Magazine, Stuart Morgan, March/April 1996.

“John Currin.” Artinfo, Daniel Kunitz, March 14, 2011.


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Alex Grey – Hope’s Presentation

Alex Grey

Who is he?

Alex Grey is an American, contemporary visionary artist who was born on November 29, 1953.  He was grown from an artistic family hold; his father who was a graphic designer, encouraged young Grey’s drawing ability. Currently he is married to his wife Allyson Rymland Grey (also an artist) who he met at the Boston Museum School. The two of them take their marriage and friendship to a different level in encouraging each other’s greatest potential as artists.


How did he become?

The story of how he began his career (life) as a visionary artist is quite interesting. In his earlier days, at a party in, Grey took LSD for the first time and during this significant acid trip, Grey had a numinous vision of a tunnel changing from black to grey to white. The way he interpreted the visions he had, was a resolution to the dualistic polarities that he had been struggling with in his art, and it inspired him to change his last name to “Grey,” The representation of a middle path between extremes. In addition to this, by shifting his family name, Velzy, to the middle-name slot, his initials also reflected this path, becoming the abbreviation for “average”. (AVG)

Sacred Mirror Series

Grey’s Sacred Mirrors are situated at Chapel of Sacred Mirrors as a sancuary for contemplation in New York City.  These Sacred Mirrors series is a totally unique work of contemporary sacred art created by Alex Grey. This installation of 21 framed images, consisting of 19 paintings and two etched mirrors, examines the anatomy of body, mind and spirit in subtle detail. Each painting presents a life-sized figure for the viewers to mirror the images as their own self.

These paintings are made as representations of the human body, portraying its physical and energetic systems, are both rigorously precise and vividly visionary. They reveal the miracle of life’s evolutionary complexity, the unity of human experience beyond all racial, class and gender divides, and the vistas of possibility inherent in human consciousness. Alex Grey has combined wisdoms, anatomical accuracy and post-modern eclecticism to create, universally accessible, eternally relevant and resonant symbols.

Grey contributed a decade of his life time to create these paintings and contributions.

On September 22, 2004, the Foundation opened the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM) as a sanctuary for contemplation in New York City. Countless paintings by the Greys are on display at CoSM, and the associated MicroCoSM Gallery holds exhibits yearly, featuring sacred art from other contemporary artists as well. Now his sacred mirros Chapel has been moved to a larger more permanent facility.

Alex’s more recent paintings depict transpersonal/cosmic beings composed from flaming grid-works of eyes. The eyes are a metaphor to human consciousness (usually the third eye)

Grey’s work focuses on spiritual and visionary art

His body of work spans a variety of forms including performance art, installation art, sculpture, visionary art, and painting. He is also on the board of advisors for theCenter for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, and is the Chair of Wisdom University’s Sacred Art Department

Grey, taught artistic anatomy and figure sculpture at New York University and he continues to teach art courses through The Open Center, the Naropa Institute, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the Omega Institute. Grey has also made speeches worldwide at conferences and gatherings about the positive effect that the judicious use of psychedelics has had on his life and art.


Personal comments on his art:


It is a big loss to undervalue Alex Grey’s art and his intentions as a fantasy or imaginary perspective. The background philosophy within his art; which I will share during my presentation, bases on the fundamental reality of our spiritual existence. Whether we are aware of it or not, him and many others believe in reincarnation and the existence of spirits living in a physical body. In addition the energetic eminence from our physical bodies; typically the aura then the emotional, mental, and etheric layers are portrayed in his paintings and their potential functions as well.


His art works are not imagined or created from his mind but they are rather the sacred visions from his own spirit and the origin of where we come from. The descriptive lines of light which Grey use, represents the energetic experience and existence in our everyday lives in a beyond three-dimensional level.


His art opens up a new perspective or the clarification of our identities and consciousness.


more info on his website:

www.alexgrey.com, www.cosm.org/art/alexgrey


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Kehinde Wiley

• Los Angeles native (1997) and New York based visual artist
• Resides: New York, New York and Beijing, China
• His mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after school art classes, and at the age of 12
o Spent a short time at an art school in Russia
• BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999
• MFA from Yale University, School of Art in 2001
• Puma AG commissioned Wiley to paint four portraits of prominent African football players
o Patterns from his paintings were incorporated into Puma athletic gear
• Grew up in South Central Los Angeles in the late 80’s
o Influenced by the environment that was driven by some of the defining elements of hip-hop: the violence, anti-social behavior, streets on fire

• situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition
• contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others
• usually paints with oils and enamels on canvas
• engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world
• Wiley’s portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem (Initially)
• As his practice grew, his eye led him toward an international view, including models found in urban landscapes throughout the world
o Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, among others (World Stage Series)
• The models, dressed in their everyday clothing
o based on the notion of far-reaching Western ideals of style
o assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings
• juxtaposition of the “old” inherited by the “new”
o provides a discourse that is at once visceral and cerebral in scope
• Wiley’s figurative paintings and sculptures “quote historical sources and position young black men within the field of power.”
• His paintings evoke a modern style instilling a unique and contemporary manner, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain mute
• Ornate, floral backgrounds that are responsive to the figure and the space around them
o sheer decorative devices
• A sense of horror vacui (‘fear of empty spaces’)
• Takes pictures of models, then paints them using references of historical paintings (appropriates classical painting poses with photographs of models)

• Classical European paintings of noblemen, royalty and aristocrats
o Influenced by portraitists such as Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Titian (Tiziano Vicelli), Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, among others
• “I was trained to paint the body by copying the Old Master paintings, so in some weird way this is a return to how I earned my chops — spending a lot of time at museums and staring at white flesh.”
o Referencing wealthy men in classical paintings, but painting “black”, urban youth
o assuming the poses of colonial masters, the former bosses of the Old World
• backgrounds from wallpaper or architectural façade ornamentation of buildings
• backgrounds in the World Stage Series: traditional decorative objects, textiles, or devotional objects of that culture to draw upon
• cast all models on the streets of New York
o The World Stage, on the streets of that respective country
• “I loved when I walked into LACMA as a kid and seeing Kerry James Marshall’s grand barbershop painting. But it was thrown into very sharp relief when thinking about the absence of other black images in that museum. There was something absolutely heroic and fascinating about being able to feel a certain relationship to the institution and the fact that these people happen to look like me on some level.”
o Why he mainly paints African Americans
• Sees them as painting himself
o Believes everyone should be celebrated and displayed in a space of grace (art institutions—all cultures should be celebrated)

“THE WORLD STAGE” (series):
• Comprised of what he believes are countries on the conversation block in the 21st century
• Chosen by level of curiosity, also the broader, global, political importance
o strategically for America, and the world community at large
• “As I’ve been traveling, I started to notice that the way many people in other parts of the world interact with American culture is through black American expression. It’s an interesting phenomenon. And increasingly, I want to engage with that question. If I am finding completely unknown guys on the streets of America, what does that look like when it happens in West Africa, in India?”
o based these paintings on their specific culture’s (historical) paintings rather than western paintings

• The vibrant colour schemes and ornate backgrounds
o Fills the space of the canvas
o Use of lines and design
• *I tend to fill the space of my canvas/paper as well, working in a type of “horror vacui” style
• *the colour schemes in my work are like Wiley’s, bright and vibrant
• References historical paintings and poses
o *I reference historical paintings/classical paintings more for their narrative aspect and symbolism
• his use of juxtaposing the “new” and “old” in a way that unique and not so relatable
o puts the “minority” into power and importance (something that was not portrayed in portraits back in the day)

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Inka Essenhigh

INKA ESSENHIGH Born 1969 in Belfonte, Pennsylvania EDUCATION 1991 Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio 1993 School of Visual Arts, NYC Lives and works in New York ” Her slick, enamel paintings of humanoid figures in a schematic … Continue reading

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