Annie Pootoogook’s detailed work describes everyday life in her home community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Her scenes of Inuit traditions include the less romantic but real integration of modern technologies such as video games and televisions as well as domestic abuse and tragedy. Her method, carefully outlined shapes in black filled with blocks of solid color, recalls traditional Inuit drawing while the subject matter reflects the unvarnished viewpoint of her generation.
Other drawings are more personal and abstract, illustrating an emotional landscape of mental anguish, such as “Sadness and Relief for My Brother,” and the austere but compelling, still life of the artist’s prescription- medicine bottle, cup and a single dangling key in “Composition (Annie’s Tylenol).” Cheerful domestic scenes such as a family opening Christmas presents (“Christmas”) are depicted with the same precision and calm attention to detail as the emotion-laden composition “Memory of My Life: Breaking Bottles.” From boingboing
Pootoogook’s body was found in the Rideau River in Ottawa in September – and the cause of her death is not known.
Nina Chanel Abney:
The role of politics, race, power, and sexuality are at the heart of much of Abney’s work. Her recent solo exhibition, Always A Winner, directly addressed police brutality and the #Blacklivesmatter movement in America. Her work pulls from contemporary politics and pop culture and addresses them through a practice of absurdly exaggerated forms, anti-realism, and an adamantly pop aesthetic. Her sensibility pulls from a vast mix of sources ranging from South Park to Romare Bearden. –Project for Empty Space
Ai Weiwei 艾未未 is a Chinese contemporary artist and activist who is highly and publicly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on human rights.
Having spent his formative years as an artist in New York in the 1980s, when… conceptual and performance art were dominant, he knows how to combine his life and art into a daring and politically charged performance that helps define how we see modern China. He’ll use any medium or genre—sculpture, ready-mades, photography, performance, architecture, tweets and blogs—to deliver his pungent message.
Ai’s persona—which, as with Warhol’s, is inseparable from his art—draws power from the contradictory roles that artists perform in modern culture. The loftiest are those of martyr, preacher and conscience. Not only has Ai been harassed and jailed, he has also continually called the Chinese regime to account.- Mark Stevens, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/is-ai-weiwei-chinas-most-dangerous-man-17989316/?no-ist
Study ofPerspective (1995 to 2003) is one of Ai Weiwei’s most controversial series, where he photographs himself flipping off important monuments around the world. He describes it as his personal form of rebellion against any government authority who blatantly or covertly disregard the freedoms of its citizens.
There can be a powerful assertion behind a single gesture when used in the proper context. With a raise of his middle finger, Ai champions the social responsibility and individualism of the generation, and shows just how fragile the powerful can truly be.
“There are no outdoor sports as graceful as throwing stones at a dictatorship.” says Ai Weiwei in an interview with BBC Radio 1 – http://www.theplaidzebra.com/that-time-ai-weiwei-flipped-off-the-worlds-most-important-monuments-to-prove-a-point-photos/
Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds is made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain.
Each seed has been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they are the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds form a seemingly infinite landscape.
Porcelain is almost synonymous with China and, to make this work, Ai Weiwei has manipulated traditional methods of crafting what has historically been one of China’s most prized exports. Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.
A short documentary about the process of making Sunflower Seeds can be found here.
Winnepeg born, Cree ancestry – his grandmother was a student at residential schools in Canada growing up.
He works with traditions of European historical painting styles – and creates new alternative narratives, and subverts nationalistic mythologies
The Fathers of Confederation:
Kent Monkman, The Daddies, 2016.
“It was a pretty deliberate effort to have people reflect on the last 150 years in terms of the Indigenous experience,” said Monkman of the show. “Canada’s 150 years old—what does that mean for the First People? When I thought about it, I thought it includes the worst period, because it goes all the way back to the signing of the treaties, the beginning of the reserve system, this legacy of incarceration, residential schools, sickness, the removal of children in the ’60s, missing and murdered women.
“So there’s a lot of material in the show that tries to encompass and stitch together this narrative that reflects back on 150 years.”
Amid the dark vestiges of history, though, there are moments of humour, too—as in much of Monkman’s work. Here, Monkman has arranged the exhibition as if it’s a memoir of Miss Chief, his time-travelling, trickster alter ego.
“I decided to stitch the narrative together as though it was her point of view, and to talk about each one of these themes and each one of these chapters as though it was in her voice.
“I think that it’s an effective way to deal with the subject matter, because she can be present in all of the different time periods… She could be present at the signing of the treaties, she could be there when the fathers of Confederation had their meeting to shape the country. That she’s always there and experiencing these things, or relating these experiences to her own community and her own family, makes it real.” (Canadian Art)http://canadianart.ca/features/kent-monkman-critiques-canada-150/
Kent Monkman, The Scream, 2016.
KEHINDE WILEY: American artist, works in Brooklyn, NY
Wiley’s signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on specific paintings by Old Masters, replacing the European aristocrats depicted in those paintings with contemporary black subjects, drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.
The subjects in Wiley’s paintings often wear sneakers, hoodies, and baseball caps, gear associated with hip-hop culture, and are set against contrasting ornate decorative backgrounds that evoke earlier eras and a range of cultures.
Through the process of “street casting,” Wiley invites individuals, often strangers he encounters on the street, to sit for portraits. In this collaborative process, the model chooses a reproduction of a painting from a book and reenacts the pose of the painting’s figure. By inviting the subjects to select a work of art, Wiley gives them a measure of control over the way they’re portrayed.- https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/kehinde_wiley_new_republic/
Kehinde Wiley, Naomi and her Daughters, 2013, oil on canvas, 108×90 inches https://artotterblog.blogspot.ca/2015/02/black-history-month-kehinde-wiley.html
“He often references Old Masters paintings for the pose of the figure. Wiley’s paintings often blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation. Rendered in a realistic mode—while making references to specific Old Master paintings—Wiley creates a fusion of period styles, ranging from French Rococo, Islamic architecture and West African textile design to urban hip hop and the “Sea Foam Green” of a Martha Stewart Interiors color swatch. Wiley’s slightly larger than life size figures are depicted in a heroic manner, as their poses connote power and spiritual awakening. Wiley’s portrayal of masculinity is filtered through these poses of power and spirituality.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kehinde_Wiley
Hernan Bas (American painter) “His work indulges in the production of romantic, melancholic and old world imagery, and makes reference to Wilde, Huysmans and other writers of the Aesthetic and Decadent period in literature.” From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hernan_Bas
Captured at various thresholds – between youth and adulthood, innocence and experience, public and private realms – and situated within a shifting terrain of interior and exterior spaces, the figures in Hernan Bas’ paintings are charged with potential. Bringing to mind poles of intellect and physicality, the androgynous young men in these paintings engage in rituals of courtship, love and death that seem to be based on a theatrical exaggeration of emotion.- Victoria Miro
In 2008 there was an enourmous earthquake in Sichuan, Beichuan was badly damaged, killing an estimated more than 70,000-90,000 people, see https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/05/sichuan-earthquake-five-years-later/100513/
“Liu Xiaodong (lives and works in Bejing) is a painter of modern life, whose large-scale works serve as a kind of history painting for the emerging world. Liu locates the human dimension to such global issues as population displacement, environmental crisis and economic upheaval, but through carefully orchestrated compositions, he walks the line between artifice and reality. A leading figure among the Chinese Neo-Realist painters to emerge in the 1990s, his adherence to figurative painting amounts to a conceptual stance within a contemporary art context where photographic media dominate. “From http://www.lissongallery.com/artists/liu-xiaodong
“A leading figure in the “Neo-Realist” movement that emerged in China during the 1990s, Xiadong paints from life — often in plein air settings — and has an eye for narrative details, mannerisms, and subtle human interactions.”
“China’s changes and the changes that globalization has brought to China has lead to very significant changes. My hometown is a very, very small town. But the changes that happened there were also quite significant, including the construction of new buildings, the bankruptcy of a factory and the resulting of many people needing to find new jobs. I wanted to go back to my hometown and see this progress so that I could depict it in a way that represented the changes in China on a larger scale. I had to face the pessimism of a lot people.” -Liu Xiaodong
(Jincheng is a coal town, noted especially for its air pollution.)
“I really like going to places that are in chaos or in a not entirely functional/developed state. I think that these places can more really show people’s true attitudes, their lives and the environments in which they exist. I see it as an opportunity to break through these circumstances and in a very honestly manner explore their realities. These troubled environments also give me the power to breakthrough my own preconceptions and perspectives of painting through which I can express my own desires.”- Liu Xiaodong, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seed/liu-xiadong_b_4142462.html
He says : ‘Society and art’, he says, ‘should be like breathing – one breathes in and the other breathes out’
Kerry James Marshall
Kerry James Marshall uses painting, sculptural installations, collage, video, and photography to comment on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. He is well known for paintings that focus on black subjects historically excluded from the artistic canon, and has explored issues of race and history through imagery ranging from abstraction to comics. Marshall said in a 2012 interview with Art + Auctionthat “it is possible to transcend what is perceived to be the limitations of a race-conscious kind of work. It is a limitation only if you accept someone else’s foreclosure from the outside. From http://www.jackshainman.com/artists/kerryjames-marshall/
Marshall, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama and grew up in the South Central area of Los Angeles, first became aware of the invisibility of black people within what he calls “the visual field” not by visiting museums but by reading comic books. “There were no black superheroes,” he recalls. “When they did introduce the Black Panther in Fantastic Four [in 1966], I became acutely aware that the black superhero was a strange phenomenon – an exception to the rule. Then I started noticing the same thing everywhere else. Black figures were never the central subjects in art-history books.”-Alastair Sooke, Kerry James Marshall: Challenging Racism in Art History http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141023-i-show-black-is-beautiful
“Unapologetically self-absorbed, Freud embodied a notion that comes to us from the Renaissance, and which has been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “Every artist paints himself.” Freud remained aloof from his sitters, a rapport that comes through in his work, referring to the work as “purely autobiographical” and the people he painted as merely the vehicle for figurative innovations: “I use the people to invent my pictures with, and I can work more freely when they are there.”- http://www.theartstory.org/artist-freud-lucian.htm
“Lucien Freud -(Grandson of Sigmumd Freud) British painter and draughtsman. Freud spent most of his career in Paddington, London, an inner-city area whose seediness is reflected in Freud’s often sombre and moody interiors and cityscapes. In the 1940s he was principally interested in drawing, especially the face.”
“By the late 1950s brushmarks became spatial as he began to describe the face and body in terms of shape and structure, and often in female nudes the brushstrokes help to suggest shape. Throughout his career Freud’s palette remained distinctly muted.”
“A close relationship with sitters was often important for Freud. His mother sat for an extensive series in the early 1970s after she was widowed, and his daughters Bella and Esther modelled nude, together and individually.” From http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/lucian-freud-1120
See the somewhat hilarious documentary about Lucien Freud made for the BBC by a journalist who stalked the artist for years, including details about food eaten, eg: “a glass of burgundy and half a roast partridge”
Night Portrait, Face Down
Oil on Canvas
Jenny Saville is a contemporary British painter associated with the Young British Artists. She is known for her large-scale painted depictions of nude women. Saville works and lives in Oxford, England. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Saville
Video of Jenny Saville discussing her interest in women’s bodies as a subject in her painting:
Cecily Brown (UK artist)
“Presenting a world that pulses with excesses and appetites, Cecily Brown explores the breadth of human experience in tactile oil paintings. Broadly inspired by the history of painting—from Rubens and Veronese to the muscular expressionism of Willem de Kooning—Brown’s personal vision transcends classical notions of genre and narrative, freeing subject matter from its original context and positioning it within a new aesthetic reality. ” From http://www.gagosian.com/artists/cecily-brown
“London-born painter Cecily Brown creates vivid, atmospheric depictions of fragmented bodies, often in erotic positions, that are depicted among swells of color and gesture. Her energetic brushwork and sensual use of paint have earned her comparison to Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon. Drawing on a wide-range of art historical references—from 17th-century French Classicism to Abstract Expressionism” From https://www.artsy.net/artist/cecily-brown
Sanam Khatibi – (Iranian artist working in Antwerp) In one fell, sensual swoop, Sanam Khatibi refutes the idea that orientalism is a monopoly of men (and, moreover, something of a bygone age). In her first solo exhibition at trampoline Gallery, the Iranian-born artist taps into a range of well known visual motifs from art history to create enigmatic, archetypal worlds in her paintings.- Grete Simkuté, http://sanamkhatibi.com/texts/
Working across painting, sculpture, embroidery, and tapestry, Khatibi envisions scenes that emphasize primal impulses and power struggles among human beings. “I am interested in the male-female interaction, and the thin line that exists between our fears and desires,” Khatibi says. – Casey Lesser, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-these-20-female-artists-are-pushing-figurative-painting-forward
Sanam Khatibi’s practice deals with the cause and effect of trauma and loss. Fascinated by the traumatic events that mark a person’s life, her work explores ideas of memory and of personal and collective experience by creating a series of unsettling narratives, provoking a sensation of the uncanny that is simultaneously familiar and strange.
Khatibi’s drawings and paintings are a disquieting reminder of the afflictions that are imposed through loss. Drawing on the pervasive anxiety of natural disasters, Khatibi’s works emanate a visceral anguish, which are marked by our instinctive and primal fears.
The intricate nature of Khatibi’s works implies an intimate relationship with her subjects, representing an antithesis to the apathetic distance that is projected by the mediated image. From http://waterside-contemporary.com/artists/sanam-khatibi/