The 11th Publication
Art By: Nick Cave
Artists Of Every
This month we are taking a look through multi-dimensions to discover more amazing artists and the work they do. Explore these following interviews and galleries as we take you through the failures and success of these brilliant creators like you.
Curated By: Imani D.
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American artist Alex Katz talks to Adrian Searle. Now 85, Katz speaks about his earliest paintings of his brother to his most recent works, and reveals his art-school rules -- and how to paint eternity.
Cecily Brown is considered a central figure in the resurgence of painting at the turn of the century. We met the praised British painter at her New York studio for a talk about borrowing imagery from other artists, and how she has always responded to dark, scary art. “Art was something that seemed very glamorous and dangerous to me as a child.”
Brown nurtured an early fascination with the “scary” art, such as Francis Bacon, and would rummage her parents’ art books for the very darkest pictures, such as a particular painting by George Grosz of a butcher shop with human meat in it: “I had sneak looks at it, like you might look at Playboy or something.” Brown, who had been painting naked women for several years, felt an urge to move on to painting men and boys.
The painting ‘Young Spartans Exercising’ by Edgar Degas (1860) helped her move on to this: “Lots of artists are like magpies, where you steal or you take or you borrow what you need from somebody. But then obviously – and hopefully – it gets transformed.” This is characteristic of how Brown draws inspiration from her favourite painters and paintings, absorbing and changing images and ultimately making them her own. “The element of surprise has to be there.” Brown prefers to “contradict” herself, and to push her paintings to a degree where she actually risks losing something good.
Nick Cave was born in Fulton, Missouri in 1959. He creates “Soundsuits”—surreally majestic objects blending fashion and sculpture—that originated as metaphorical suits of armor in response to the Rodney King beatings and have evolved into vehicles for empowerment. Fully concealing the body, the “Soundsuits” serve as an alien second skin that obscures race, gender, and class, allowing viewers to look without bias towards the wearer’s identity. Cave regularly performs in the sculptures himself, dancing either before the public or for the camera, activating their full potential as costume, musical instrument, and living icon.
The artist also works with choreographers, dancers, and amateur performers to produce lavish community celebrations in untraditional venues for art. Dazzling in their movement, Cave’s sculptures are crafted in collaboration with artisans from a dizzying array of materials that include beads, raffia, buttons, sequins, twigs, fur, and fabric. The “Soundsuits” are also displayed in exhibitions as static sculptures, arranged as groups of figures in formation that are striking in their diversity and powerful stance. Cave’s sculptures also include non-figurative assemblages, intricate accumulations of found objects that project out from the wall, and installations enveloping entire rooms.
Fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon is best known for her colorful paintings and hand lettering. She works for clients around the world including MoMA, REI, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, and Random House Publishing, among many others. She is the author of seven books, including the starving-artist-myth-smashing Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist, and many illustrated books. She was named one of 40 Women Over 40 to Watch in 2015 and she is featured in the 2017 book, 200 Women Who Will Change the Way you See the World. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
Wangechi Mutu observes: “Females carry the marks, language and nuances of their culture more than the male. Anything that is desired or despised is always placed on the female body.” Piecing together magazine imagery with painted surfaces and found materials, Mutu’s collages explore the split nature of cultural identity, referencing colonial history, fashion and contemporary African politics.
In Adult Female Sexual Organs, Mutu uses a Victorian medical diagram as a base: an archetype of biased anthropology and sexual repression. The head is a caricatured mask – made of packing tape, its material makes reference to bandages, migration, and cheap ‘quick-fix’ solutions. Mutu portrays the inner and outer ideals of self with physical attributes clipped from lifestyle magazines: the woman’s face being a racial distortion, her mind occupied by a prototypical white model. Drawing from the aesthetics of traditional African crafts, Mutu engages in her own form of story telling; her works document the contemporary myth-making of endangered cultural heritage.
In his youth, Sharp served an apprenticeship on the 6 line of the IRT where he challenged the industrial power of 600 miles of steel and machinery running like a blood vessel through the city, blasting through the tunnels and thundering along the “el” over miles of rubble where apartment buildings once stood. Sharp with his partner Delta wrested the Pelham Bay Express from the hegemonic grip of Madseen UA. They proclaimed, "we are here, we will not be ignored.
They were on hand to be major players in the last years of significant aerosol painting on the legendary trains of new york. Those years saw the end of the old culture of innocent creation and achievement that brightened the destroyed city, turning deferred-maintenance wrecks into brilliant canvases that put a new face on the concept of public ownership.
The story is one of owning nothing yet owning it all, infusing the faceless grid with your own identity, your own spirit, finding freedom that transcends captivity, giving form and color as medicine for a community in pain.
Sharp’s paintings today carry all this heritage in their DNA. The elegant, proliferating wild-style lettering is in dynamic tension with the grid and calls the background to life; a visual metaphor in which the energy of the soul finds expression in the circumstances of the given life. The futurists glorified and emulated modernism and industrial power and speed. The graffiti writers took hold of this powerful infrastructure and transformed it, restoring the spirit of Ogun, the yoruba divinity of iron, to the naked trains. The rythm of writing is exuberant motion and crackling energy. The message is within the form itself which could only have evolved on a moving object. Sharp today paints not far from his roots as a youth on the streets, where you must invent yourself through cultural expression to achieve Ghetto Celebrity Status.
Daniel Richter is a German artist known for his large-scale paintings inspired by mass media and contemporary culture as seen in his painting Lonely Old Slogan (2006). Working within the tradition of Expressionism, Richter’s practice could be seen as following in the tradition of Edvard Munch and James Ensor.
“At least for me, when you do something you have not mastered yet, there is a long process of not really being aware of yourself and by the moment you finish this process you can regard the pictures as a product of your own thinking,” he said of painting. “And when you look at the works and try to look at it as someone else, not as yourself, you actually learn about the way you see the world.” Born on December 18, 1962 in Eutin, Germany, he was a student of Werner Büttner at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts during the 1990s, and later worked as Albert Oehlen’s studio assistant. Over the years, Richter’s work has evolved from the wild abstractions of his youth towards politically based representational imagery. Today, he lives and works between Berlin and Hamburg, Germany. Richter’s works are held in the collections of the Kunstmuseum Bonn, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Weserburg Museum of Modern Art in Bremen, among others.