Sunday, February 28, 2010

Naoko Ito - Urban Nature

Naoko Ito. Born in Tokyo, lives/works in New York.

I saw these works from Itos "Urban Nature" 2009 series awhile back and was hoping to find some more information to flesh out a post but I have drawn blanks. That said I like these pieces and had to share them. The rest of Naoko's works vary greatly but these objects resonate with me greatly.

Elements of the work remind me of characteristics in Japanese culture and others link to the concepts of urban living. I think mostly this is because the Japanese seem to balance urban living and with such a strong traditional cultural connection so well. They seem to find room for everything, all be it compartmentalized. I think you can see where I am going with this. Shinto shines and bonsai trees, small pockets of tranquility that have strong roots in the spiritual history of Japan. With the development of Japan as a industrial power, its advance on cutting edge technology and head-strong charge into western consumer commerce its often a surprise to find pockets where Japans cultural heritage is so prevalent, yet it is.

Isolated or insulated?

I wonder if the idea around the trees/wood being encapsulated is to preserve or to protect? Its the fact it was once a living thing fulled with energy but now lifeless also factored in?

The manner in which is has been laid out and divided by basic man-made building materials such as glass jars, bricks and planks of wood a pointer towards the manner in which we construct and manipulate or environment?

I still feel there is something both beautiful yet tragic about the works as a whole. Some deeper critic of the way we alter the spaces we living in. How the manner in which we live impacts on the natural energies that move about us even inside urban environments. The struggle in ourselves as people/individuals to balance the spiritual nature of things with fundamentally basic flaw modern man exerts in his need to control or destroy everything around him.

Tonight I think I will watch "Lost in translation".

Work of Naoko Ito found here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mike Giant

Mike Giant is an artist that is a living breathing personification of his artwork. His website bio reads thus -

"Birth. Upstate New York. Drawing. New Mexico. BMX bikes. Heavy Metal. Skateboarding. Punk rock. Hip-hop. Thailand. College. Dishwasher. Raves. Lorelei. First tattoo. San Francisco. Dharma. Think Skateboards. Angi. London. Adult bookstore. Computer animation. Tattooing. New York City. Newskool. Skullz Press. Everlasting. Track bikes. Brooke and Leia. Tokyo. Tattoo 13. Plum Village. Albuquerque. Stay Gold. REBEL8. Manifestations. Ordained minister. Megan. 36. Amsterdam. Right here. Right now."

I love his work. His early art influences stem from his love skateboarding and BMX. He always mused with the idea of doing art full time and living a life true to his own moralistic code. He did later submit work to "Think" skateboards where his old school, straight out black and white style was well received and easily transferred to decks. He credits growing old with his move away from skateboarding towards BMX and cycling as he watched his friends constantly get "beat up" trying to land tricks. He became deeply entrenched in local "Cycle Gangs" where the militant clean/green ethos was complimentary to his religious views (Mike is also a devote Buddhist and vegan). In recent years Mike has moved into tattooing as another outlet for his creative expressions. This along with his Rebel 8 label now allow him the opportunity he always wanted, to live life his way off his art.

Working with rough pencil guides or sometimes no reference at all Giant uses sharpie markers to create his bold black and white works. As well as tattooing he is also an accomplished graf artist and still commits work to walls in his home city L.A.

Find more about Mike Giant here on his website. His label Rebel 8 blog here.

Mike Giant Interview from David Mongan on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Aaron Nagel - Shot to the heart

Arhh. Bon Jovi song titles, forgive me, I work in music. It is strange how the mind works. No sooner had I typed the final line on the last post and I remembered I had a few links I E-mailed myself while on break at work. Amongst these was the paintings of Aaron Nagel.

In the process of looking at his work/practice I'm excited to find his blog has details on his process and snap-shots of works in progress. More then that he has outlined some of the masters he has tried to emulated in his work. This level of openness is so refreshing.

Aaron was born in San Francisco in 1980 and while being an accomplished designer he received not formal training as a painter and moved quickly from acrylics to oils. His works are a surreal mix of iconic religious imagery with compositions being documented from life models he photographs digitally. I guess it is this modern take on established narratives that draws me to his work. The designers intelligent borrowing of symbols that echo back with great visual weight. The creation of new metaphor (namely blackened hands) and all it lends towards.

Check out his process pieces and a few final works but also visit his blog and website. Not to be missed!

Quick review/rant.

Just looking back over what I have covered thus far on the blog:

  • First couple of posts just being rants
  • Painted trucks of Kevin Cyr, awesome integration of street elements.
  • A post on the modern art of the "Buff"
  • The beautiful world of Swoon, I wonder love to holiday inside her head.
  • The uplifting work of Faith47, every time I see her work I think of "The Power of One"
  • Josh Keyes burning deer, first time I saw his work I flipped.
  • Matias Bechtold and Evol, miniature city-scapes. Takes me back to Lego.
  • Aryz graf artist/muralist, the way he renders is amazing and then the SCALE!
  • Missbugs, taking that cut and paste to the streets.
  • Kate MacDowell, erie anamorphic works made from illuminated porcelain.
  • AJ Fosik, modern American totems!
  • John John Jesse, hyper-real rock n' roll illustrations.
Or if you like:

  • Rant
  • Rant
  • Painter
  • Street/Painting/Concept
  • Street/Object/Assemblage
  • Street/Graf
  • Painter/Sculpture
  • Street/Object/Installation
  • Street/Graf
  • Street/Mixed media/Screen printing
  • Sculpture/Object
  • Painter/Object/Assemblage
  • Painter/Illustrator

... and I guess this is another little rant. Not sure what to post next. Maybe something close to the heart, so to speak.

Edit: I notice I also need to be paying some attention to the links list both adding and covering some of the artists I have linked.

Monday, February 8, 2010

John John Jesse - Painting like an American poet

John John Jesse has been dubbed a leading force in the field of painting emerging in the early 2000's described as Juxtapoz gonzo-pop. His works are derived almost as a revisiting of the days of his youth growing up in the New York's Lower East side in the 70's and 80's. At this time most of his neighbourhood streets stood vacant enticing the congregation of both the fringe dwelling punk counter-culture and impoverished drug community. Jesse is frank about his own ventures in these respective inner city sub-cultures, spending time playing as part of the band Nausea while being hooked on heroin. His move to into doing art was more of a therapy then a conscious decision, using art to fill in time between support meetings for his addiction. His choice to commit full-time to art began to pay off with the popular interest in his Demonica Erotica series. While the days of hedonistic drugs/sex/roll-n-roll are far behind him the characters he meet still live in the world he has created for them within his work. Often blurring with references and meaning that could just as easily been divulged from the mind of the psychotropic Gonzo himself. Sexually suggestive uniformed school girls and religious icons are other recurring themes which once again link back to Jesse's childhood where was raised a strict Catholic and schooled as such for over 8 years. I guess for me I am drawn to his use of iconographic images, strong punk feminine portraits and the surreal alternative reality they seem to live in that the rest of use have blinked and missed. A world full of pastel pink free spirits that gives the rest of us hope that we could one day taste freedom and forbidden fruit. I look at Jesse's work and think of something I was told from Hunter S. Thompson ... which I had to Google again to remember properly -

"Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final." —The Great Shark Hunt, 1979

Juxtapoz gonzo-pop indeed. For more proof of John John Jesse's unique perspectives on life/living/art look up "D.I.Y or Die" on Youtube. Awesome watch.

Images stolen from his home website here. Googled too. So much borrowed from Fecal Face interview here.