Magritte Opens at SFMOMA and Surrealism Lives On

Posted in Inside Scoop by Lori Zimmer on 17th May 2018

The imagery of René Magritte’s Surrealist masterpieces from the mid 1920s and 1930s continue to influence art and fashion today. Superfluous clouds, shrouded lovers, men in bowler hats, shiny green apples, a pipe (which isn’t a pipe of course!)… These fantastical and witty images come to mind when thinking of the Belgian Surrealist master.

 

René Magritte, Son of Man, 1964; oil on canvas; private collection; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

But a new exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art delves deeper into the mature artist, who departed his Surrealist style to explore other oeuvres. René Magritte: The Fifth Season, which opens on 19th May,celebrates the artist’s mid-life departure from his Surrealist aesthetic, which he returned to later in life.

 

René Magritte, Personal Values, 1952; oil on canvas; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchase through a gift of Phyllis C. Wattis; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Spread over 9 carefully curated galleries, the exhibition shows off 70 of Magritte’s mid-life works. During these years, Magritte flirted stylistically with art historical genres, borrowing the sensual strokes of Renoir,the lurid palette of Fauvism, the exaggerated markings of Expressionism, and pop imagery.

 

René Magritte, The Anniversary, 1959; oil on canvas; Art Gallery of Ontario, purchase, Corporations' Subscription Endowment; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

These pieces, although a departure from Surrealism, still feel exquisitely “Magritte”. The artist’s famous wit, his playfulness with scale, and his love of challenging context by placing ordinary objects into extraordinary scenarios, remained through his dalliance into other artistic styles.

 

René Magritte, The Happy Donor, 1966; oil on canvas; Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

The paradoxical exhibition will cover Magritte’s artistic practice from the 1940s through the 1960s, showing art lovers a new side to the Surrealist master, with a promise of unique immersive environments designed especially for the show. René Magritte: The Fifth Season runs from 19th May through to 28th October 2018.

 

René Magritte, The Enchanted Domain I, 1953; oil on canvas; Würth Collection, Künzelsau, Germany; © Charly Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Artists continue to be influenced by Magritte, both by his Surrealist style as well as his mixing of juxtaposition and scale to recontextualize ordinary-seeming objects, scenes and landscapes. Here are 3 artists whose work has that Magritte touch:

 

1. Peter Horvath

Canadian artist Peter Horvath uses collage to create evocative tableaus that touch on Surrealism, drawing from his vast collection of mid century magazines and periodicals.

 

Corn Flakes by Peter Horvath

 

Starting with vintage portraiture of pop icons and old Hollywood, Peter mixes saturated landscapes, text and scientific drawings to create spliced collages that deconstruct beauty and fame ideals of years past. With their billowy clouds and obscured faces, Peter’s pieces immediately call to mind Magritte’s “The Son of Man”.

 

2. KEELERTORNERO

Chin Keeler and Emma Tornero, working together as KEELERTORNERO, abandon their individuality in order to do a Surrealist act: painting collaboratively as one. Their paintings evoke the aesthetics of the 1940s and 1950s, mixing vintage fashion and styles with their own brand of oddity.  

 

John of the Stagbeetles by KEELERTORNERO

 

A clan of Marlene Dietrichs show off red lobster claws, while John Wayne meditates amongst  stag beetles. The resulting pieces are at once kitsch and contemplative, challenging context and scale just as Magritte did.

 

3. Super Future Kid 

Surrealist in name, Super Future Kid is a London-based artist whose work is a futuristic take on Surrealism. Mixing the fantastical with the everyday, her dreamy work is a mash up of cartoons, space-agey imagery and classic Sci-Fi, painted in a sickening sweet candy colored palette.

 

Unnaturally Lazy by Super Future Kid

 

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5 Next Level Urban Photographers

Posted in Inside Scoop by Lori Zimmer on 10th May 2018

Photographers have been capturing the magic of the city since commercial cameras became available in the mid-1800s, and they continue to find the mystery of the urban jungle to be intriguing. We’ve rounded up a group of photographers who view the urban landscape through a unique lens.

 

1. Pedro Correa 

Pedro Correa isn’t your typical urban photographer. The Belgian artist uses his camera like an Impressionist painter uses his brush, replicating the iconic heavy brushstroke of the Impressionist movement by capturing motion with his lens.

 

Playground by Pedro Correa

 

Urban scenes dissolve into dreamlike landscapes, their soft focus feeling more like faded memories than documentation of reality. Pedro’s background in painting is evident in his photography: his pieces are emotional and effortless, yet he honours the tradition of photography by leaving his captured image unaltered, editing in-camera before the decisive moment.

 

Winter of Our Youth 5 by Pedro Correa

 

2. Tomas Cambas 

The urban landscape is transformed into an abstraction of the simplistic beauty of geometry under Tomas Cambas’s lens. The Buenos Aires-based artist’s eye grazes over the angles and arcs of street scenes, pulling out spatial forms from the grit of the city.

 

J by Tomas Cambas

 

Rather than sharing a narrative of city life, his abstract photographs show a unique and quiet solitude devoid of people, giving a fresh and unexpected perspective on urban photography. Tomas’s works allow abstract art lovers to seamlessly blend photography into their collections.

 

D by Tomas Cambas

 

3. Steven Irwin

The energy and chaos of urban life comes through in Steven Irwin’s heavily manipulated photo montages. Cityscapes are scratched, stained, spattered and layered together digitally to create imagery that feels aggressive, tumultuous and rough, balanced with bursts and spurts of color.

 

Tower III by Steven Irwin

 

Steven’s technique, although digital, is reminiscent of damaged and weathered film negatives, the fading skylines boldly showing through his purposeful markings.

 

Metropolis by Steven Irwin

 

4. Riccardo Magherini 

Tokyo is a city of constant movement, its dense population continually moving about in contrasting scenes of the ancient and the hypermodern that make up the Japanese capital. Riccardo captures the buzz of the city and the passage of time with his multiple exposed photographs.

 

NY #02 by Riccardo Magherini

 

The photographer will set up a shot and record how the scene changes throughout the day. He then superimposes the frames on top of one another. The resulting pieces not only have an energetic movement, but can be read like an anthropomorphic diary, written from the location’s point of view. Riccardo has also captured the vibrancy of Florence, New York and Hong Kong.

 

Talat Noi by Riccardo Magherini

 

5. Nick Miners 

When he’s not photographing the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland, Nick Miners is fascinated by the hard edges and angles of the often controversial Brutalist architecture.

Urban Geometry - Oxord Street by Nick Miners

 

Nick finds the mixed perceptions of the Brutalist movement to be a personal challenge, what many critics find to be “ugly” architecture, he uses as inspiration to create beautiful imagery. Shooting this architecture exclusively in black and white, Miner pushes the contrast to high levels, transforming these rough details into dynamic patterned imagery.

 

Urban Geometry - Brutalist Hotel by Nick Miners

 

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The Artist Painting Nature's Patterns

Posted in In the Studio by Aimee Morris on 01st May 2018

For as long as she’s been an artist, Helen Wells has been fascinated by the patterns and motifs that exist in nature. From fossils and feathers to snowflakes and seashells, nature’s bounty is Helen’s muse and she incorporates its patterns into her ink and watercolour works with delicate precision. Helen won the Winsor and Newton Watercolour Revolution competition in 2014. She has since exhibited around the UK and her works can be found in private collections worldwide.

 

 

What themes and ideas are you exploring with your art?

My artwork is intuitive and intricate, often featuring ideas and imagery from the subconscious. I use expressive mark-making to create abstract pieces that feature repetition and rhythm, layers of complexity and organic forms. I’m fascinated by the interplay of colours, shapes and patterns.

 

The Garden at The Water's Edge by Helen Wells

 

My paintings are rarely envisioned but develop over days as I respond to the materials and the marks on the page, creating complex illusionary landscapes. I’m mesmerized by the beauty, colours and patterns in our natural world. I’ll frequently have a love affair with something where I become obsessed with it for a while; from snow flake structures to patterns on shells.

 

 

Tell us about your processes

I experiment in my sketchbooks and will sometimes take a germ of an idea from these and use it as a springboard for a larger work. Most of my work is painted in watercolour. There is something about the unpredictability of this kind of paint which I find alluring and magical.

 

 

I love the way the paint and colour mixes with the water on the page and creates unexpected patterns. I love the transparency of it, the ability to build up layer after layer of paint. There’s a slight wild-childness about watercolour - it doesn’t always do what you want it to do, and I love it all the more for that.

 

Sunset Waters by Helen Wells

 

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

As a child I was always drawing. I loved spending hours creating elaborate and intricate patterns from my imagination. I used to get through so much paper that my dad started to buy me large rolls of wallpaper lining-paper to keep up with my insatiable demand for more paper.

 

 

So drawing and painting was something which came innately me as a child. But I only became a full-time artist later in life. I took a rather circuitous route to get here as a profession and it is perhaps all the sweeter for it.

 

 

What does being creative mean to you?

Creativity is making your ideas manifest. It’s singing your song, dancing your dance and embracing your weirdness. It’s being true to who you are and creating the things that only you can create. The hope is that someone else will see what you have created and that they will connect with it.

 

The Sea's Spell by Helen Wells

 

Tell us about your studio space - what do you love about it?

I am very lucky to have two rooms at the top of our house in Hastings. I’ve painted the walls and floor white to maximize the light. Having painted wooden floors also means I can roll back the rugs and make a real mess without any worries.

 

 

Browse Helen's Works >> 

 

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