It’s arresting – seeing six symmetrical circles holding the faces of little scowling children, all spread across the wall, three red paired against three black. Cast in Renaissance clothing, these children wear the exact color of the background, making the definition between the two an act of magic. Your eyes tell you where the headdress stops and where her shirt begins, but they only know because of delicate shadows and folds that are obvious in some places, but left invisible where the painted fabric is as tight as the canvas.
It’s hard to tell whether these are all the same little boy or girl – all of their faces have the same elegant roundness, the same crystal blue eyes and the same smooth perfect skin. But their expressions are subtly different – the four within the smaller circles seem to hold more contempt in their eyes, like they’re upset with how small their worlds are compared to the two children within the larger circles, whose expressions lie closer to curiosity or suspicion.
The only element offsetting perfect symmetry here comes in the clothing of these two children within the largest circles. The boy in red is bare-chested, wearing only a headdress while the child in the large black oval wears a shiny black shirt that grips his little body so tight he might as well not be wearing it at all.
The largest circles are stretched wider to form more of an oval shape – the smaller perfect circles play a supporting role by framing their larger counterpart and interacting with the opposite color across the wall. The abrupt visual contrast of the black versus red, along with the dagger stares coming from intense perfect children makes the whole wall come alive with ideas about conflict and disdain, youth and maturity. And the Renaissance headdresses hint at an address of institutionalized religion or just religion as a whole.
Perhaps the most dynamic part comes where the two colors meet – both children with the exact same grimacing glare pointed right at us, although it really seems like their unhappiness is actually rooted in their physical closeness to the antidote – the opposite color with a contrast too strong to look directly at.
Born in Seville, Spain in 1965, Salustiano has an exhibition list too long for even multiple pages on his website. He’s shown between 10-20 exhibitions per year since 2001, and began all the way back in 1994. Beginning in Spain, then moving to Portugal in 1999, he showed in Italy in 2000 and New York City in 2001, and has since had work displayed all over the world, from Seoul to Salzburg to Moscow.
Salustiano’s VOLTA comment read:
“For me, emotion is a key word in contemporary art and should continue to be so in the future. In recent years in the art world, artists have tried to flee from ’emotion’: saturated with every kind of visual stimulus, they have been more concerned with making an ‘impact’ on the spectator than in touching an emotional fibre. I strongly believe that emotion should be the principal motivation and purpose of the artist. For centuries art has emotionally impacted upon, moved or even perturbed the spectator; and this ‘interior’ movement has contributed to the evolution of mankind. I also think that even if the artist intends to stimulate the intellect of his or her audience, then this should be done through ’emotion’….”
For more of Salustiano’s work, see his website.
All photographs taken by Lindsey @VOLTA NY ’13 where Salustiano was represented by KAVACHNINA CONTEMPORARY in Miami.
flash acrylic paint on tyvek
12 x 30 feet (144 x 360 inches) Image from artist’s website.
“Stardust” is a flash of make-believe, tricking your eyes into seeing something only found through a very powerful telescope or on the background of a Mac. The wall is painted like its falling apart, crumbling to reveal the image that’s breaking through behind. A star appears to be exploding – mid-transition on its way to becoming a white dwarf or a black hole – something other than what it used to be. With an asymmetrical form glowing bright, white light springs from the center while the rest of it shines red through the clouds that cover it.
Image via Slow Show.
Adam Cvijanovic is a 54-year-old artist born in Cambridge, MA and now living in New York City. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Time Out NY, the New Yorker, along with ArtSlant, ARTnews, and Art Forum. He is currently represented by Postmasters Gallery in New York, and according to his CV he was continuously creating and exhibiting work from the mid-eighties until 2010, but hasn’t publicized making anything since.
For more of Adam’s work, see his Postmasters profile.
Image via Slow Show.
“Moving in with Richard Diebenkorn”
Alexandra Rozenman is an artist now living and working in New England after coming to America as a political refugee from Moscow at the end of the 80s. Her paintings reveal simple scenes of beauty and most often peace – a utopia so perfect that it could only exist within four walls of canvas. Her new show, “Transplanted” continues her exploration of scenic storytelling, using color and shape to serve as a narrative for each viewer to interpret on their own.
“Moving in with de Chirico”l art
What was the first thing you can remember painting?
I started painting when I was 5 taking classes at the Fine Art Museum in Moscow. There is a photograph taken at the dacha that my parents rented in 1977 for the summer. I am sitting at the easel looking very serious. Painting on an easel tells a story the same way my work does now: there is a house in the woods and a fairytale character: Petrushka ! ( Petrushka is a stock character of Russian folk puppetry, known at least since 17th century). I would not be surprised if I found out about him from a Stravinsky ballet that has the same name, because may be there was not always paper, but the theater was affordable, wonderful and available. This painting has two big eyes in the sky – one of the images in my work for the last 20 years.
Do you have any routines required for the creation of your work?
In ideal world I prefer to work in the morning after 2-3 cups of strong black tea. Afterwards I eat good lunch and have a nap! Then work for 2-3 hours more. I like to feel alienated when I work. I like listening to a very loud music (something nobody will guess I do). With the schedule I have right now ( I started my own private art school www.artschool99.com) and am teaching almost every day for 5 hours or so). I am trying to cut out pieces of time for myself and just make it work. A tight schedule became one of my art materials:)
“Moving in with Leonardo”
How do you find the right color scheme for each scene?
I don’t think I find the right color. I allow colors to find me. Paint floats and has its own mind based on subject matter, technique, materials, time, space. It is alive for me and my goal is to allow it to grow up (like a plant) and only later – some time in the middle of the painting process – start changing it, based on my instinct, ideas and goals. Each painting is different.
Where do you hope to take the viewer with your paintings, and why?
I tell my viewer a story, allow them to enter into the world of magic and hope that they will get curious and will spend some time thinking and looking around. My work expresses longing for understanding and being understood, for non-belonging and finding a place to be. Playfulness in my work points to instability of life – visually, culturally and literally. I am working playing on the conflicts between identity and assimilation, tradition and modernity, so each viewer can take my messages and interpret them any way they want and discover for themselves. I want the viewer to start wondering after looking at my paintings, if maybe things are a bit different sometimes, maybe something can still be both beautiful and interesting at the same time.
“Moving in with Winslow Homer”
How would you describe your style of painting?
In todays world “style” is usually a combination of many different styles, isms and personal history or/and an artists place in the world. Inside my work liquid layers and thick abstractly painted surfaces meet familiar landscapes, and create a place where I explore the world through the mixture of autobiography, symbolism and philosophy. I am a mix of Moscow alternative cultural scene of the 1980’s ( my visual vocabulary, environments, approach to a hidden metaphor are all coming from their ), Painting for paintings sake, Abstract Expressionism, New image painting, Fauvism , 16th-17th century Romanticism and Symbolism can all be found in my work.
My favorite artists are: Bruegel, Vermeer, Turner, Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Snyder and Frida Kahlo. For many many years my work has been compared to Marc Chagall. I like his early work and am even really related to his first wife (Bella Rosenfeld) – my Great Grand father is her younger brother, but I don’t think that he is my main influence. However, if there is a group of artists called “Jewish Artists” I am sure I am a part of it.
How does “Transplanted” expand upon the styles and themes your work has already been exploring?
For me “Transplanted” has a seed of placing myself in the world of art. Thoughts and practice on what it is to be a painter in the 21st century. Saying that replanted artists, immigrants from the disintegrated homeland, like myself, survive against all odds
And, kind of a random one: what’s your favorite color?
I don’t think I have one favorite color. I love color. It depends on what it is for. There is one color that I strongly dislike: pink. I agree with Matisse who said that:”The use of expressive colors is felt to be one of the basic elements of the modern mentality, an historical necessity, beyond choice.”
“Re-thinking Malevich in Moscow”
From Alexandra: “Re-thinking series was 15
years ago and is sort of a mother of ‘moving in.'”
See Alexandra’s website for more of her work.
“Transplanted” is on view at the Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge, MA from January 3 – April 8, 2013.
Contemporary artist Shari Rubeck uses watercolor and acrylics to create simple scenes filled with glamour, curiosity and chaos. Each brightly colored artwork beautifully explores the human psyche, with a suggested meaning that’s left open to interpretation . Her style is multi-faceted, each series develops its own sort of visual voice that usually involves some kind of animal imagery along with a sense of raw purity, the paint allowed to run and swirl organically in confined areas of the composition.
“Lion Girl” is a watercolor and graphite work that shows a woman standing defiantly, hands on her hips as her serene face is overlaid with that of a powerful lion roaring, the color of his mane melting into her fiery tethered dress. A girl in a blue dress leans impossibly far to the right in “Sharp Intrusion,” her head hidden by a glowing red space helmet with five birds flying towards it, as if they were working as a team to knock her over.
What’s the first thing you can remember painting?
The inside of my parent’s station wagon with crayons is one of my earliest artistic memories. But my first memory of painting would have to be when I received a good quality set of brushes and went to town filling large pieces of watercolor paper with all varieties of brushstrokes until I could think of no more.
What do you think watercolor adds to the creation of a piece?
Watercolors are fresh, light and have an immediate quality. I am working to bring that sense of luminescence to some of my larger acrylic paintings on linen.
What do you like about including animals in your work? Particularly bunnies?
Animals are a big part of my life and psyche. They are present often in my thoughts, dreams and work. They are my connection to the subtle workings of the world. They are magical, intuitive, and fierce, connected and make wonderful story tellers. As a human race we have turned our backs on them. Should technology suddenly drop off we would look to them for knowledge, guidance and find ourselves thanking them once again for sustenance.
The Bunnies arrived on the ‘scene’ soon after I began ‘working’ a puppet, named ‘Bunny’ for my son in his struggle to find comfort of sleep at bedtime. Bunny has a tremendously silly, but slightly cynical sense of humor and became my artistic story teller. The bunnies illustrate humor in the serious and not so serious sides of life’s events and emotions.
Who are the people your works represent?
The figures in my work represent all of us – humans and humanness. Some pieces are more representative of my own self and direct experiences, while others are observations from distant perspectives.
What do empty backgrounds allow for in your work and how do you choose a background for each character?
I fluctuate between giving color & detail to the areas surrounding my characters and leaving them alone in their space. An intense drive to express an idea, message or observation leaves me feeling that the figures can communicate strongly without anything around them. The blank or negative space is carefully considered and tells much about the tensions while simultaneously allowing for areas of visual repose.
What do you like about the image of a figure with a mismatched head?
A figure with mismatched head…isn’t that what we all are? Or I could elaborate and say that we are all different degrees of mask wearers. My Ego series transformed into the Alter Egos. The first Alter Ego shows a human wearing a bunni mask or a bunni wearing a human – there is some ambiguity. I have always been intrigued by masks and what they can represent. There is so much that goes on ‘backstage’. I do also love the weight of a head that is too large for its body; whether mechanical or creature.
What are some of the art websites or blogs you follow?
Some sites that I am affiliated with or keep up with are: BlueCanvas, Twitter, ARTCZAR, Elisa Contemporary, Artsrogueisland, GalleryZ, ColoColo, Hallway Gallery, and now of course ThingsWorthDescribing. I find many intriguing sites on random searches but may only visit them once.
Minor Situations is her newest series of bunny paintings that’s by far the most adorable – fluffy floppy characters shown after a small disappointment like burning toast, letting balloons go, or spilling milk. Their little bunny faces look so downtrodden, and their long ears allow for an exaggerated sense of unhappiness as they fall down the back of every bunny. Simple scenes against bright-colored backgrounds, these works are lovable in a silly sad way.
For more of Shari’s work, head to her website Art in Mind.
These characters come from the 1699 French novel Les Aventures de Télémaque that fills a gap in Homer’s Odyssey, telling of Ulysses son Telemachus’ educational travels with a mentor that turns out to be the goddess of wisdom Minerva. The author Fénelon tells of how Telemachus fell in love with this beautiful nymph Eucharis but his duty as a son demanded that he leave her and find his missing father.
In this scene they say goodbye, an image that David makes so powerful and real with a warm white light that sets their light skin aglow. Telemachus stares straight out at us, his face still babyish and framed by blonde curls, like a lamb who doesn’t know to be scared as it’s naively lead toward slaughter. That’s not what happens in this story though. Telemachus is rewarded for sacrificing in the name of his father, and at the end of the story he learns his mentor has been the goddess of wisdom this whole time and he reaches Ithaca safely and smarter and stronger than ever.
Eucharis wraps her arms gently around his neck, leaning her head on his shoulder, eyes downcast because she knows she’s about to be left behind and there’s nothing she can do about it. Telemachus has his right hand placed gently on her leg as a temporary consolation prize, holding his spear in the other hand, fingers spread across it as he leans back and acknowledges the viewer with his sad blue-eyed stare. A skinny ghost of a dog peeks his head out of the darkness in the right-hand corner, staring up at his master as another faithful admirer, but perhaps one that actually gets to come along.
This painting currently belongs to the Getty Museum in LA whose website reads, “David painted The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis during his exile in Brussels. The use of saturated reds and blues contrasted with flesh-tones and combined with a clarity of line and form typifies the Neoclassical style, which is characteristic of David’s late history paintings.”
“The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis” by Jacques-Louis David
Oil on canvas
34 1/2 x 40 1/2 in.
For corrections and additions to my telling of this French novel, please email me. I did a good amount of research but unfortunately I can’t speak French and may have got a few things wrong.