New Figure #3 by Qigu Jiang, ink and colour on rice paper, 2008, 200 x 122 cm
I attended a small exhibition in 2009 of an artist trained in traditional Chinese brush painting doing large scale figurative works. Each brush painting I viewed that day was enormous and sometimes worked across more than one piece of paper. The works were expressive and some were considerations of historic pieces of art in the Western Canon. The nude as a subject is very unusual and rare in Chinese art:
As a youngster growing up in Shanghai, Qigu Jiang, professor of art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studied Chinese sui-mo (water-ink) painting. He first emulated China ’s old masters, practicing such traditional themes as bamboo and landscape. Upon his arrival in America , however, Qigu Jiang sought new ways to express himself. He began to explore the human figure in his work – despite the fact that his predecessors had failed to emphasize this form for thousands of years. [source]
Historically, this art is a newer expression as Qigu Jiang takes a very formal and traditional artistic expression and makes it very personal and contemporary. The primary expression in the paintings are the lines from a brush being moved across the paper. Fields of colour are used sparingly and sometimes splatters and drips interrupt the picture plane.
See the scale of his works as they were on display at the Koehnline Museum of Art in 2009 here.
After Per Hasselberg by Qigu Jiang, ink on gilded rice paper, 2007, 22 x 17 cm
Strength by Qigu Jiang, ink on rice paper, 1988, 34 x 50 cm
The Veiled Rat ATC by JaniceMarie Rochford, mixed media, 2.5″ x 3.5″.
Nearly all of my Artist of the Week features are work I found while at events in Chicago. This is one instance where art came to me in the mail. I received an ATC and two prints in the mail by JaniceMarie Rochford of the Fripperee blog. I don’t think all art should be aesthetic or comfortable, and the print below definitely pushed my 1980s nuclear phobia buttons. She sent a short artist statement with the work.
Everyday is like Sunday by JaniceMarie Rochford, relief print on Nepalese hand-made paper, 2.25″ x 4.25″.
“Trudging slowly over wet sand, back to the bench where your clothes were stolen.”
Morrisey’s Everyday is Like Sunday was inspired by a novel set in my own town of Melbourne as a group of people wait out a Nuclear Apocalypse in a beachside location. To me this has always been the bathing boxes at Brighton beach.
I imagine them here, bleached of colour as the shockwave hits. It’s the absence of the person mentioned in the first line of the song that evokes the lonliness of the end of the world.
Has our hero turned his back at just the wrong (right) moment?
The Cyclist by Josh Crow, oils on canvas, 44″ x 72″, 2012
The Cyclist by Josh Crow [detail]
Josh Crow has a wonderfully personal style of painting that comes from an eclectic variety of influences. I wanted to call it “Inner City Impressionism” as I walked through the gallery his work was on display in. There are influences from contemporary fashion photography and Realism as well. He works big and each piece is very painterly.
Strange Light by Josh Crow, oils on canvas, 28″ x 36″, 2012
He also has some works that were painted on leather, such as the one below. The suede worked really well for skin tones and had an interesting texture; it was an interesting departure from watercolor on paper. These works were stronger homages to fashion photography.
Stripped Tulle and Satin Dress by Josh Crow, watercolor on suede, 18.5″ x 26″, 2012
See more work by Josh Crow at his portfolio website here.
What Choose You? June 20, 2012 by Cathee A. Clausen, oils and ink on paper, 20″ x 16″
Cathee A. Clausen strikes me as one of those self-sustaining artists, one that is going to go ahead with the ideas and a personal creative vision regardless of what is going on in the rest of her life. She loves line work and drawing. The works I saw in person were from her Freedom series of works which have an emphasis on female figures expressed through Cathee Clausen’s unique drawing style. She does black and white line drawings and sometimes they have an accent color; her fully colored art works are my favorites.
She also uses an unusual substrate to work on. She draws and paints with water-proof media on Mylar and frames the art exposed without glass. The Mylar is translucent and has a unique surface quality because of this translucence. The art works remind me of stained glass in a wonderful way.
See more work by Cathee A. Clausen at her portfolio site here.
The best way to get to know Lynda Barry’s work is to head to the library or book store, buy it and carry it home. She overlaps comics / cartoons, painting and collage as published bodies of work. Her more recent works are the most multi-media. Her book One! Hundred! Demons!  will always be a favorite of mine. What It Is  won an Eisner Award. Her themes are partially auto-biographical, partially imaginary. The surreal and daily life overlap with interior thoughts, complete fictions and memories. She returns to the topic of creativity and who is assumed to be, who can or cannot be an artist over and over again. The things she loves and the things that haunt her co-exist in dynamic tension.
I was just stunned when I saw the work of this creative pair. Marilyn Endres and Eucled Moore are traditional wood turners who have started working multi-media. They are using glass seed beads to mosaic their wood turned pieces using a contemporary version of Huichol bead art and a variety of designs from around the world. They are blessedly tolerant of people touching their art works, and I think I even touched them as well. The works are large scale, have the highest level of skill and an exhaustive level of work in each piece. Works start at 24″ and go up in size. See more of their work at Kazi Studio online here.
Brian Zapien specializes in pencils and graphite with a focus on portraits and cityscapes. I had the opportunity to watch him work and he does not use many of the tools that Photorealist artists use: he does not use a grid, projection or magnification. He draws his works by hand, section by section, and shoots his own reference photographs, using film to avoid any pixelation or loss of definition in the printed photographs. The fine detail in his cityscapes is really amazing.
Summer in the City by Brian Zapien
Timeless Memories by Brian Zapien
Brian Zapien is an excellent example of an artist that is dedicated to perfection in his chosen medium. He is a local artist and his works reflect a love of the city and of architecture. See more work at his portfolio website here.