Artist + Curator Interviews, Event Photos, and News
Emilio Villalba is a modern San Francisco based artist with an iconic painting style. His new series, Talk to Me is currently on display featuring experimental portraiture rich in texture and distinctly muted palettes. Below, we were able to learn more about his investigative approach and the motives behind the work that he creates. Of course, we highly recommend you also swing by and check out the paintings for yourself!
Interview by Jessica Violetta
JV: Hi Emilio, we are honored to have you back in the gallery with new work on view. Your paintings are easily recognizable yet beginning to show signs of a slight shift in the way you have lightened things up for some and then highly reduced the imagery onto black in others. Can you talk more about this progression?
EV: These new high-key images started out as a way to “lighten” up the mood in my work, but I think I ended up with the opposite result, haha. These paintings felt more depressing and “emo” to me than my last series here at Modern Eden. I experimented by distorting the silhouettes more than usual, as well as the placement of the facial features which allowed the expressions to be pushed. For example, on Talk to Me and the The Lonely Painter Facing Death I thinned out the faces and ruined some of the definition to make them seem a bit longer. I felt that investigating a more “painterly” approach to this series would help out the visual concept a bit more. The movement of the paint would move the viewers eye around the piece easier as well giving the painting some weight by adding thicker, more textural brush application.
JV: Right, there feels to almost be a bit less specificity in the faces or people you are depicting in this series than in your previous work. So was this intentional?
EV: Yes, totally… since I was playing with a more painterly application, I felt that some of the features were getting in the way of the brush work as well as some features feeling unnecessary for a particular expression or composition. A lot of the paintings at one time had more features that have been painted over or scraped off. I really enjoyed this process, and I think will continue to explore it.
JV: That sounds like an interesting direction. When you are working, how exactly do you choose which features to fully render and which to fade away? Is this mostly an intuitive decision or something that you predetermine?
EV: I think a lot of it for me had to do with the mood or composition. I was really curious what features I could repeat and which features I could erase and convey a clearer statement of the expression, as well as relating those features back to the overall design. By pushing the brush work and color design I felt that I made up for the destruction or invisible features of the face, haha. Hopefully.
JV: I think you were successful in that attempt! As I mentioned, your work has become very recognizable. Would you say that you have landed upon a “style” or kind of painting that defines you as an artist and/or feels like one you would like to hold on to for a while?
EV: When I think of style, I think of design. Like, what kind of “look” am I going for, and then I adjust color and brushwork to fit that aesthetic. As far as landing or arriving upon a style to keep, I don’t know if the paintings will always look the same… the concepts however, or the idea behind the pieces have been pretty consistent for the last two years with this multiple feature body of work. When I first experimented with this look, my goal for that painting was to create a monster haha. I wanted to represent depression, and bi-polar disorder visually but in a calm sense. If anything, I would like to get to the point where my brushwork is more of the unique voice rather than the subject matter or having multiple features all over the faces haha. I would love to start exploring other subject matter, such as still life and landscape, and figure out a way to incorporate those into a show and still keep it cohesive. At this moment though, I’m still extremely addicted to painting portraits.
JV: I can completely understand that portrait addiction, it would be cool to see you do a landscape though. For Modern Eden's group show “A•Chroma” a few months ago, you contributed a few pencil drawings that were each so different from another and also quite different from your paintings. Of course, your life drawing technique is quite skilled. Can you tell us a bit about these pieces?
EV: Yeah, I love figure drawing and wish I could do it more often. For me, drawing and painting from life is the ultimate. I always tell people that drawing nudes from life is like training at the gym. It’s the best way to learn how to draw especially if you are interested in organic form. The poses range anywhere from 1 minute to 40 minutes, which to me is still really quick! I’ve learned how to make statements in that amount of time, but ideally I would like to get back to drawing longer poses and eventually painting from life. The figure drawings that were in the “A•Chroma” show are 5 minute to 20 or 30 minute poses. The one in color is from a “blind-contour” session where you draw without looking at your page haha. I always love the way those turn out. The final piece was one I did when I was a student actually, of my good friend and amazing painter, Kieran Collins. I was really into dynamic symmetry at the time, and limiting my lines to certain directions. Those were very tedious but fun experiments.
JV: Do you have a favorite piece in the current display?
EV: haha oh man, um I think my favorite piece might be She’s Gone because it’s the most emotional portrait I think I have done in terms of expression haha. Is that cheesy? I really liked the way it looked framed, almost as if the shoulder was resting on the bottom of the frame. Each painting though, I really enjoyed making. I can’t wait to make more pieces and continue to explore this look. The level of focus shifted a bit from the last series because now I’m painting a lot more from imagination rather than a photo reference. It makes me step back and really think about the design and movement more.
JV: I don't think that anything relating to emotional expression is cheesy, especially in the art world! I have found that many artists are unable to pinpoint their favorite work so it is great to learn why one is more compelling for you.
We are also excited to be offering limited edition prints of at least two of your paintings for this show! It is always fun to see how beautifully original art can propagate in the form of a print. Do you ever have this in mind when working?
EV: Thanks! Yeah I’m really excited about the prints. I never thought I would have prints of my work made. We never plan the prints until the pieces are done, so I’m not thinking about a reproduction of the work while I'm working on them. Once we have all the pieces photographed, the owners of Modern Eden (Bradley and Kim) and I look over them and we decide which ones to run test prints of and then decide from there. I think they do a way better job picking out which ones to print than I do haha. Bradley does an extremely beautiful job making sure the prints match the original.
JV: I agree! Bradley and Kim both have a great eye for presentation and they pay an important amount of attention to detail in print reproduction. What, if any, do you find to be your biggest struggles or challenges when approaching your work and what advice can you give for overcoming them?
EV: Hmm, well, I mess up all the time!! I have to constantly remind myself to be patient and take my time. I have a full time job with weird hours so there are days when I start a piece and I rush it because I know I won’t be able to paint for 2 or 3 days which absolutely frustrates me, because there are areas I need to finish while the paint is still wet. So if I don’t finish an area that needs that I would have to repaint it during the next sitting. There are other little things that throw me off sometimes like lighting in my work space not being consistent, but for the most part is just having a deadline for the amount of time I have to paint. The dream would be to have at least 4 days a week in a row to work without interruption etc.
Thanks to Emilio for the insightful glimpse into his process! You can come and take a look at his current work in person at the gallery anytime between October 14-29.
Event photos from the opening reception of Crystal Morey's Delicate Dependencies and Emilio Villalba's Talk to Me on October 14, 2016. Thanks to everyone who made it out last Friday to celebrate, support, and take in all the incredible art by these two top Bay-Area contemporary artists. Both shows run through October 29 and can be viewed at the links above.
Crystal Morey is an Oakland based sculptor with a pristine and evocative new series called "Delicate Dependencies" opening tomorrow at Modern Eden. We are delighted to have had the chance to gain a glimpse into her studio process and the enlightening depth behind the work that she creates.
Interview by Jessica Violetta
JV: “Delicate Dependencies” is a new body of work for you, can you tell us where the ideas for these sculptures began? Tell us about the imagery you chose to include.
CM: In Delicate Dependencies, I wanted to create a dreamlike, captivating space; one filled with emotive hybrid creatures, here to warn us of our current trajectory toward environmental downfall. These figures are meant to show the sinuous connections between all living creatures, and the balance that must excites, in a healthy natural world.
I like to research animals that I find relatable in their actions and intriguing visually. In “Delicate Dependencies” I decided to focus on animals from the western United States, creatures that have an interesting history or trajectory, ones closely affected by human expansion.
I am interested in what we consider to be “fringe” or “indicator” species. These creatures are often the first indicators and casualties of environmental change, and are often found at both ends of the food chain – small creatures being susceptible to minute habitat changes and larger creatures affected by disruptions in a long food chain. These interests led me to include creatures such as a brown bear, red fox, peregrine falcon, mountain lion and California bighorn to name a few.
JV: There seems to be new, natural elements in your sculptures, can you tell us about the use of leaves and what they mean visually?
CM: The leaves are a completely new addition and one I am really fond of. I have been thinking about adaptation, natural evolution, and human driven environmental change and the addition of plant life into my work became the next step. Human and animal relationships have been very important in my work and thinking about the entire biosphere led me to this inclusion. I am interested in a chain of elements, of all living things being interconnected and dependent on each other for long-term viability.
I also find that the leaves speak to the delicacy and balance of our rapidly changing environment. They represent the inescapable cycle of growth, fullness and decent, a theme I am very interested in exploring.
JV: I love the phrase that you use when describing part of your influence as “human interdependence with the land and animals around us”. Is it possible for you to elaborate on how exactly this influences you?
CM: So much of what we see and hear about the state of our world is very upsetting. With humanitarian crises, natural habitat destruction, and wildlife devastation at the forefront, I think we can become desensitized, making us unable or unwilling to take in more information. For these reasons I choose a different method. I see “beauty” and “emotion” as having a power to reach people, to share a poignant, delicate and human moment. My hope is to create empathy for our environment and the creatures that live within it. I hope to stir a curiosity rooted in our relationship to plants and animals around us, and that we are here to share this planet together.
JV: You mention in your biography that you had an “alternative upbringing” and I can only assume that, by this, you are referring to being raised in the Sierra Nevada's, can you explain?
CM: Many of my inspirations and interests in the natural world stem from an alternative upbringing, one I closely connected to the landscape around me. For much of my early childhood we lived in unique dwellings without modern amenities such and electricity or pluming and chose not to indulge in television or mainstream radio. This lifestyle allowed for plenty of time to explore the forests, lakes and river canyons of the area, creating a strong relationship in the way I saw myself as a tiny component in vast sea of natural landscape.
As I have become older, with new life experiences, now living in an urban city, my perspective has changed and the world doesn’t feel as large, wild and free. Through living in an urban environment, manipulated and controlled by humans, the fragile quality of the natural world has become more apparent to me. I no longer see natural landscape as an expansive, never-ending space, I see it as a finite, irreplaceable space we must nurture and protect.
Nostalgia, memory and longing also play a distinct role in my work. I often find myself wishing I could return to the naïve child I was, engulfed in the magical wood, filled with imagination and wonderment, unburdened by the realities of today. And yet, I choose to live in the city of Oakland because I don’t want to ignore modern life. I want to be part of the art culture and environmental conversation about what is happening now, and how we as artists can use our voices to encourage ideas to change.
JV: About how long does is take for you to create one of your pieces? Is there a part to the process that you enjoy the most and/or least?
CM: I build all of my sculptures by hand, using porcelain clay. I start with a composition and gesture in my mind, I then visualize the piece with the emotion and thoughts I would like to convey. From there, I source photographic references for human and animal components to reference as I sculpt. I usually start by sculpting the legs, then move to the torso, the head and onto the arms and hands. Once all of the elements are in place, I then work up layers of detail. I love the intricate details like toes, horns feathers, fur, teeth, and the gestural composition I can create in the arms, hand and fingers. Porcelain is a very delicate material that takes time to set up and dry, this means I can often work on multiple pieces during the same time period. Once a piece has been sculpted, it must completely dry before being fired to roughly 2200° F in a ceramic kiln. From start to finish, including drying time, a piece can take about two months. Creating sculptures with porcelain can be very challenging, but I love the history associated with material and the delicacy and translucency I am able to achieve.
JV: Your current work is so gentle and provocative and we are so excited to see it in person. Any ideas of where your art will take you next?
CM: As a full time studio artist, I am continually trying to challenge myself with new projects. I find it important to deepen my interest, themes and concepts while also pushing my abilities. Through this new collection of work, I have enjoyed the new addition of trees, leaves, leading me to new adaptations of plant and animal. In the next year I hope to continue to expand on these ideas and can’t wait to see where I end up!
I really appreciate your time and interest in my work and I am so happy to share my thoughts and work with you! For more information, please visit my website at www.crystalmorey.com or follow my work on Instagram @cmorey! Thank you!
Delicate Dependencies is on display from October 14–29, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco.
Tracy Lewis is another fantastic artist among many who are currently on display for the “Femme to Femme Fatale” Beautiful Bizarre group show this month. Known for her delicate yet evocative watercolors, Tracy’s art has understandably become highly sought after in galleries and the homes of her admirers. She graciously extends her knowledge to those interested via workshops in California, where she lives, as well as vacation destinations.
Interview by Jessica Violetta.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Omniscient by Tracy Lewis
On view through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco for Femme to Femme Fatale curated by beautiful.bizarre Magazine.
Glenn Arthur is one of many artists showing in the Beautiful Bizarre curated group show Femme to Femme Fatale here at Modern Eden Gallery this month. Collectors swoon over his sleek, intricate acrylic paintings of feminine beauty in stylistic twists. With a tremendous fan base and following, Glenn’s work speaks for itself. But we are curious to dig a little into the nature of his work ethic, freedom, and enjoyment after having arrived at this level of admiration and artistic success.
Interview by Jessica Violetta.
All images courtesy of the artist.
JV: I am personally a big fan and have enjoyed watching your work progress, always becoming more beautiful and refined. How does this growth resonate with you, if at all? Do you ever notice yourself experiencing drastic changes in your art and/or reflecting back on the progress you have made?
GA: Recognizing my own growth as an artist is a strange thing. I never notice it happening until I look back at my older work and see all of the differences compared with what I'm currently working on. I do constantly strive to improve my work so it's always nice to see that it has happened although I can never really pinpoint when it's happening. Of course, as an artist, I'm never satisfied with making just one type of art. I like to try my hand at several mediums which pushes my growth in different directions that I might not have thought about on my own. Surprise growth is just as welcome as intended growth!
JV: It also seems that artists like yourself are able to increasingly indulge in the aspects of the art-making that you personally enjoy, the more your fan base expands and support is received to literally watch you do….whatever it is that YOU enjoy to do! Is that a fair assumption or do you feel there is some freedom left to be desired?
GA: The fan base is always a factor for me when making my art, but not in the way that it dictates what I choose to make. I'm a multifaceted person with a lot of different interests so I'm always aware that some of the art I make will get a huge response and some will get a very small response. I know the true fans of my work understand that I love creating everything from surrealistic art to anime fan art to sketches of hummingbirds as silly characters. I've never felt stifled when it comes to creative freedom. If anything, the people who enjoy my work continually encourage me to try new things and I love that.
JV: Your work often infuses what you’ve referred to as your “signature” hummingbird. What is the story behind incorporating these pretty, playful birds?
GA: I always feel bad answering this question because I feel like people are expecting a deep response about some kind of personal symbolism that hummingbirds portray for me when in actuality, I just think they're super cool! I've been fascinated with them for as long as I can remember. They're such fast little birds though and out of sight in an instant, so putting them in my work is a way for me to keep them around longer. It's also just tons of fun to dress them up and give such tiny creatures a larger than life personality.
JV: I think many people, including myself, truly enjoy looking at artwork that is primarily about beauty, femininity, tasty details, and the dedicated craftsmanship behind it. Have you ever felt pressure to deliver work with different subject matter and/or what would you say to aspiring artists who also desire to focus on beauty and craft like yourself?
GA: The art that I share publicly is the art that truly inspires and speaks to me aesthetically and emotionally. What a lot of people don't know is that I also do a lot of private illustration work which gives me the chance to explore a lot of art that I wouldn't normally make. Of course these illustrations look nothing like my personal style, and I don't share them publicly, so even if someone saw them they probably wouldn't know it was made by me. Being given opportunities to make so many different kinds of art really makes me appreciate my own personal style so I never really feel pressured to deliver anything different. The best advice I can give to any aspiring artist is to be prolific! I make some kind of art every single day. I may not share it all publicly, but a day never goes by without a pen, pencil or paintbrush in my hand.
JV: Again, just based on observation, the enjoyment you take in your work really seems to show. There are plenty of theories about the importance of artists being able to fully indulge in what they do and that coming through to the viewer. But you also claim to be a perfectionist and your discipline is evident too. Is there anything you can say about balancing these two dynamics in artmaking - pleasure and discipline?
GA: I have a saying that I always refer back to when it comes to discipline. "Practice makes proficient." Although I do consider myself a perfectionist, I know that perfection is an unrealistic goal. I'm also my own worst critic which renders perfection unattainable in my mind. So the next best thing is proficiency. To me, being proficient in something that brings me pleasure, so I guess the more I strive for it the more I enjoy it. I don't know, maybe that makes me some kind of masochist? I also have an undying fear that I'll forget how to make art if I ever stop which might factor into my strange views of pleasure and discipline.
JV: We are looking forward to having your solo show here at Modern Eden in May 2017! Have you begun to prep for this yet, even just in brainstorming or sketch phases? Give us hints of what to expect!
GA: I'm ridiculously excited for this show! I've recently become obsessed with growing succulents and cacti and I'm planning on painting a whole series inspired by these gorgeous plants! As with all of my work you can expect a touch of surrealism and whimsy and of course hummingbirds! I've already got a bunch of sketches and studies in the work and can't wait to get started on the full paintings!
JV: Lastly, I believe you are currently living and working out of northern California. How is this, in your opinion, compared to being in the LA area right now? (Clearly we are a bit biased…)
GA: I was born and raised in Southern California living most of my life in the Orange County area. I still love it down there, but at this stage in my life I really wanted to slow things down and enjoy more nature which the Bay Area is perfect for. I'm specifically in the East Bay which I have fallen in love with and it's great that San Francisco is only a short drive away so that I can get my fill of big city life when I need to.
Intertwined by Glenn Arthur
On view through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco for Femme to Femme Fatale curated by beautiful.bizarre Magazine.
(September 17, 2016)
This past Saturday, we rolled out the red carpet to welcome an international roster of artists and collectors for our latest exhibition, Femme to Femme Fatale curated by Editor in Chief of the Australian-based art publication, beautiful.bizarre Magazine, Danijela Krha.
As soon as the doors opened, the gallery was buzzing with excitement. Artists delighted in meeting Krha while fans of participating artists were thrilled by a chance to chat with and see the artworks in person.
Femme to Femme Fatale is on view through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco.
Red Carpet Fun:
Handiedan is a Dutch collage artist based in Amsterdam we are excited to have as part of our next group show Femme to Femme Fatale curated by Beautiful Bizarre. Her work impresses with its ability to exercise a refreshingly unique approach while maintaining a truly pleasing aesthetic regardless of how near or far we are to it. Intrigued by both the beauty and the process, we’ve had the opportunity to interview her for some elaboration.
Interview by Jessica Violetta
All images courtesy of the artist.
JV: It comes as no surprise that your work will be featured in a show with this title and theme. “Femme” seems to be a common theme within your work but so does “Femme Fatale”. Is there anything you could share with us about your choice to so often include a pinup style female (or more than one) in your work?
H: To me, I like how the sensual female form can symbolize both soft and strong, radiates both power and vulnerability. An origin of softness and growth, a purity, sexuality of beauty and decay. I like to use the classical pin-up because of the high cultural value and they exhibit a tasteful response to female sexuality. To use this as the basis of my work and translate/transcend them into a new aesthetic form surrounded within symbolism.
An extra aspect is when you look at a technical aspect. As an extra gift, when digital reproducing these magazines with a scanner: a graphic moiré pops up. It’s sort of a tiny graphic grid. I love it how this moiré works on the paintings and how it interacts with the pixelation of low resolution web images in my digital collages.
JV: The way you are able to entice a viewer into your artwork with such overall charm and then have us come to find that you have actually hand cut and carved the components with mastery, it feels to be a gift that keeps giving. Do you find similar satisfaction with this duality when creating the work?
H: I love the fast and intuitive way of designing and montaging in the computer. It gives unpredictable outcomes that surprise me. It sometimes feels like my unconscious is able to become conscious and appears right in front of me while I create my originals.
I love the timely part of my hand cut collages. It slows me down and lets me go deeper into the meaning of the piece and the process towards the final result.
I love to combine the autonomous techniques of hand cut collage with the modern possibilities of the digital collage techniques. It gives me a definite satisfaction to combine these two techniques, and to see how they complement each other both in the layering of the artwork and in meaning and technique.
JV: You have had the opportunity to show in various forms - from gigantic outdoor murals to small scale gallery works. Do you have a favourite experience so far?
H: My most favourite experience is the combination of both.
The quiet focus of working for months by myself in my studio creating art for a show.
The fast and energetic focus while creating a wheat past mural in one week, with a lot of direct interaction with your audience and the project team gives a lot of energy.
Either way of working gives a new and different energy and the possibility to re-focus. I think combining results for me as a good way to grow, learn and develop my art.
JV: As someone who collects vintage illustrations for the aged aesthetic but also seeks out modern art, I find your artwork to be like a successful hybrid between the two. Have you also been a connoisseur of materials like this before you began to use them to create original work?
H: The original work I’m creating today, is a direct result of what I always have done.
I always had a fascination of things that are aged or ‘have a story locked in time’.
For example, a little piece that fell off an old tree or dried flower, a trashed empty record sleeve or yellowed metro tickets. All to me little treasures.
I can however also see this in modern things that I think are different and raises curious, or that triggers a happy feeling. Like my vinyl toy and crystals and gems collection.
I like to gather things that have a story and it’s even more interesting to combine or compose them together. To see a surprisingly new and totally different story appear.
JV: Being in San Francisco, we know there are both differences and similarities about art and life in Amsterdam. Are you satisfied with the opportunities available for you where you are now and/or have you shown or traveled to other places that seem to welcome what you are doing even more?
H: With my art I mainly exhibit and do projects abroad. I’m very grateful that I am able to do what I love all over the world and meet all these different kind of people.
As a basis, I find Amsterdam a great city to live and to develop my art. A nice and open atmosphere to create. I think a lot of nice things are happening in Amsterdam. Especially the last few years, new galleries and projects full of new art energy popped up.
JV: Aside from the commonality of depicting the female form, are there any overarching themes or concepts that you typically have in mind when making your work?
H: My art works are a treasure trove of symbols and patterns scattered on and through the background. You can find meaning in the tattoos, in patterns of decorative symbolism and hidden meanings, with a focus on Quantum Physics, Metaphysics, Mythology, Sacred Geometries, Cosmology, Astronomy and Space and Time theories.
JV: Your mural in Berlin for Urban Nation is breathtaking. Can we look forward to you creating more large scale public work in the future?
H: Thank you.
After creating the mural in Berlin in 2014, I’ve created several large wheat paste murals for Wall Therapy in Rochester and one for RMP in Richmond this year. Sadly, because of harsh weather conditions these walls didn’t last.
There are plans in the make for a new large mural project in conjunction with my solo exhibition at Jonathan LeVine Gallery next year. Very excited about it!
Flos Vitae by Handiedan
On exhibit for Femme to Femme Fatale from September 17 through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco. Inquire for more info
The gallery began working with Danijela Krha and her team at beautiful.bizarre in 2014 as the publication entered its sixth issue. Introductions to Gallery Director Kim Larson were made, and a shared interest in advancing the same caliber and style of artwork was revealed. Over the last several years, the magazine has grown and expanded into nothing short of an international phenomenon. Now in it’s 14th issue, and with well over 600,000 followers combined across their social networks, they serve up a continuous and engaging stream of beautiful and surreal contemporary artwork, which as their name implies—oft trend toward the bizarre. What initially began as a focus on advancing Australian artists on the world stage, became a much larger endeavor as similarities and shared interests were discovered in the US, Europe, Asia and more. Built upon nearly two years of planning and cross-collaboration, this exhibition represents a successful knitting together of a geographically disparate but connected community of artists under a common movement, and another step toward advancing this growing movement in the art world. All images courtesy of beautiful.bizarre and the curator.
Interview by Jessica Violetta.
JV: Danijela, it is very exciting to have you as a group show curator for the first time at Modern Eden Gallery after admiring your magazines on the shelves for a while now. The list of artists you have gathered together for the large group show, “Femme to Femme Fatale” is very impressive. Can you tell us a little bit about the concept of the show?
DK: Thank you I am thrilled and grateful to have this opportunity to work closely with Kim and Bradley whom have been major beautiful.bizarre magazine partners for a number of years.
When Kim and I connected on the idea of a beautiful.bizarre magazine exhibition, it felt like a natural step in our business relationship. It has been a real pleasure working with the directors and owners of Modern Eden Gallery, whom are both extremely passionate and professional.
I agree that the artists that have come together to be part of the “Femme to Femme Fatale” exhibition are incredibly impressive. I am honoured that I, and beautiful.bizarre magazine have been able to inspire such a exceptional and diverse group of artists from various styles and genres to come together and explore the feminine in contemporary art and society. I think this speaks to the wonderful reputation that beautiful.bizarre magazine has built over the last 3+ years as a business that truly respects and values artists, and of course is madly in LOVE with the incredible work they produce.
As I'm sure you are aware, the beautiful.bizarre aesthetic is largely figurative and you will see many feminine faces and bodies, lives and experiences grace the pages of our art quarterly and our web and social media pages. As a woman in the modern world I am grateful to have the opportunities in life that I do, and honour those that fought for our current freedoms. I am also intrigued how my sisters experience the modern age across cultures and ethnic backgrounds - are we all facing similar issues? Hence the theme was born in my desire to have the best figurative new contemporary artists look at the women around them, at themselves and at our society and explore and bring to life the many forms of the modern feminine.
"Femme to Femme Fatale : The Feminine in Contemporary Art"
Woman. She is an archetype, a stereotype, mother, lover, daughter, dominator. Larger than life, hiding her divinity, selfie taking, heart breaking and heart broken.
Uncompromising and comprising, a shaper of society.
Within every woman there is a nurturer, and a wild beast! She can be a maid, a princess and a queen, all at once.
Yet some women are still taught it's not OK to have been born a female. They are punished and treated cruelly, a less than human in some societies. While from around the corner we watch, heartbroken at the plight of our sisters. In this modern age, we fight for those who have no voice, rallying together in full circle. Hoping that somehow we can help them break free from their chains and join us in a freer world, one that is closer to equality for the sexes.
In the Western World we are much closer to gender equality, more free to express ourselves – our passions, our dreams, as well as our struggles and fragility.
We are: tattooed beauties, extravagant and defiant, unafraid to stand up and face the world on our own terms; old and fierce, hardened from the pain of taking on the whole world at once, yet we wear our experiences on our faces and bodies with pride; girls with our faces on every page, trying so hard to fit in, selfie taking, insecure and over confident at once; women who are passionate about the natural world and strive desperately to save it for the future generations we will create; the strong and determined career woman who holds up the world on her shoulders, a brilliant example to us all, yet is often tired and lonely inside.
In one lifetime a woman can be all of these things. Big and small, strong and weak, dominant and submissive, leader and nurturer, she shrinks then expands, she grows and evolves.
The life of the modern woman is still riddled with difficulties. We have worked hard to empower ourselves in this patriarchal society. Some have succeeded and others still struggle. Trying to fit in and stand out, to stay healthy, relevant, career driven and nurturing, who are we in today's modern world?
JV: Just like the intention of beautiful.bizarre as a whole, this show seems to gather artists from all around the globe. Was there something particular that you looked for in these artists?
DK: Indeed, beautiful.bizarre showcases the work of leading and emerging new contemporary artists from around the world, and I feel strongly about continuing this in our physical exhibitions. It is also extremely important that the diversity that is showcased in beautiful.bizarre art quarterly is also a highlight of our exhibitions. I want the viewer to see the pop surrealist painting right next to the fine art painting, next to the emerging artist, beside the widely exhibited artist whose work graces the walls of public galleries and museums. It is this juxtaposition, this inclusive and encompassing mantra that is evident in everything that beautiful.bizarre magazine does and has translated beautifully in “Femme to Femme Fatale”.
I also of course considered all the artists who have been featured in beautiful.bizarre magazine in the past 3+ years and those we would love to feature in the near future!
JV: I’ve noticed that your magazine is open to submissions from anyone. It must be both exciting and overwhelming to fish through and choose what gets published. Do you ever notice having a hand in getting emerging artists to a more established position of their career by featuring them in group shows or your magazine?
DK: We receive hundreds of submissions each week and the task of going through them is passionately and diligently done by my Submissions Manager, Susan Santamauro who loves art and the creatives who bring it to life as much as I do. Susan and I appreciate that all young creatives start at the beginning, and it is through encouragement, practice and experimentation that successful artistic careers are born. It is very important to us to ensure we encourage those just starting their journey and help those that are on the cusp on a new chapter grow and evolve.
We have many examples of beautiful.bizarre’s influence in the art community - it is a wonderful and humbling testament to my team's passion and hard work. Many emerging artists that have been featured in beautiful.bizarre magazine have seen their artistic careers take off following their exposure through our publication and media network both in relation to salability and exhibition rosters. I am ever grateful that I am able to help others in this way!
JV: On the other hand, I am sure you are able to establish relationships with artists that you work with on ongoing basis. Would you say that your curated shows, like this one, are primarily made up of artists whom you have already worked with?
DK: Oh yes, as I mentioned above, all the beautiful.bizarre curated exhibitions feature artists we have worked with in the past, that we love and respect. As well as those we wish to create that enduring relationship with. I am very fortunate to have been able to build an exceptional network of artists, gallerists and of course art lovers/collectors that are supportive of beautiful.bizarre’s mission and vision.
JV: Being based in Australia, I know that you are fond of bringing Australian artists to light. Are there any Australian artists showing in “Femme to Femme Fatale”?
Great question and thank you for raising it. Being an Australian company, it is very important to us that we do our best to raise the profile of Australian new contemporary art and artists both locally and internationally. To encourage their creative process and support their careers. We do this in multiple ways, including features in beautiful.bizarre magazine, sharing their work on our socials, articles/interviews on the beautiful.bizarre website and of course inclusion in our curated exhibitions.
I have a huge sense of pride and am extremely honoured that we have a number of exceptional Australian creatives in the ‘Femme to Femme Fatale’ line up including Bec Winnel, Graeme Balchin, Julia deVille, Marie Larkin, Nicole Watt (aka Mahlimae) and Pippa McManus.
I am very excited to have this opportunity to introduce their work to the San Francisco art scene.
JV: With the intention of focusing more on alternative forms of expression, it is fascinating that beautiful.bizarre has made such a presence for itself within the current art scene. Does it come as a surprise to you that so many people are interested in art that is more “bizarre” than mainstream?
Actually no, since I myself feel this way I am not surprised that many others do too. I always thought I couldn't be alone in feeling uninspired and bereft when I left many of the more traditional mainstream galleries. I didn't feel a connection with much of the modern work being shown. However, we have seen significant change in the last decade and the art scene is still evolving thanks largely to social media. We are seeing a returned focus on representational figurative art which is beautiful.bizarre’s main aesthetic, and to work that acknowledges and celebrates the mastery of artistic skill. We as consumers of the visual world now have a powerful voice through social media to shout from the rooftops what touches us - what we love! We no longer have to accept what others tell us we should appreciate.
beautiful.bizarre embraces many forms and genres from fine art to low brow, from the beautiful to the bizarre, however what is clearly evident is our love for figurative art. We the viewer can see ourselves in the work, how the figure sits or interacts with the the scene/landscape - we project our own experiences, emotions and values onto the piece - this is why figurative art is so engaging and so powerful. I believe our focus on figurative art is one of the main reasons beautiful.bizarre has grown so quickly in the last 3+ years - because we can connect with it as human beings.
I hope you don't mind, but I would like to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank my management team whom are the most passionate, dedicated and amazing people I know! beautiful.bizarre wouldn't be where it is without each and every one of these exceptional people. I am incredibly fortunate and thankful to have them all with me on this exciting and rewarding journey: Richard Purssey [Co-Founder & Technical Director], Bella Harris [Online Editor], Jeanette Bartholomew [Finance Manager], Susan Santamauro [Submissions Manager], Miu Vermillion [Public Relations Manager], Hieu Nguyen [Designer], and finally my brilliant Executive Assistant Kylie Dexter who has helped me bring this exhibition to life. I would also like to thank all the beautiful.bizarre Online Authors and Guest Contributors for sharing their love of art/photography/music/film/wearable art etc with the world through the beautiful.bizarre website.
JV: Do you have any personal all-time favorite artists/creatives or pieces?
I have WAY too many favourites to even begin recounting here, but let's just say that ‘Femme to Femme Fatale’ is showcasing a large majority of my current “Art Throbs”.
JV: What initially drew you to the task of curating gallery shows?
DK: To be completely honest with you our major gallery partners/advertisers have in each circumstance approached me with the offer, and I believe it is a wonderful and natural extension of our close partnership.
Plus of course it is a real thrill and an honour for me personally. I am humbled by each and every artist’s original creation for “Femme to Femme Fatale”. Their time, energy, creative vision and expression is something I value extremely highly.
JV: We are looking forward to having you here in San Francisco. Besides the opening, do you have any fun plans while in town?
DK: WOW myself and Richard Purssey, beautiful.bizarre’s Co-Founder/Technical Director and I are incredibly excited about our visit to San Francisco! We leave just after our wedding and will arrive early in the week prior to the opening on 17 September. So San Francisco and the opening will be part of our honeymoon!
I am thrilled that so many of the exhibiting artists will be attending the opening and I will finally have the opportunity to meet them, and Modern Eden Gallery Directors Kim and Bradley. At this stage we have not yet made any “touristy” plans but I have been googling like a mad woman, so would appreciate any/all recommendations re what we should do and see while in town.
I can't wait to see all the fabulous folks of San Francisco on 17 September at the opening of ‘Femme to Femme Fatale: The Feminine in Contemporary Art’. Please do stop in and say hello, I would love to meet you and hear what you think of this, the first beautiful.bizarre exhibition the US!
Femme to Femme Fatale will open September 17, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco. The exhibition will be on display through October 8, 2016.
We are delighted to be partnering up this September with one of our favorite publications, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine at the gallery. This amazing group exhibition, Femme to Femme Fatale will feature works by over 60 of the finest new contemporary artists from around the world working with the theme of a modern woman and the dual archetypes of femininity and strength.
We are fortunate to get a glimpse inside the artists' studios and sample a preview of this prodigious exhibition. For inquiries on any artworks or for more general information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images courtesy of the artists.
Femme to Femme Fatale: The Feminine in Contemporary Art will debut September 17, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 8, 2016.
Delighted to have the company of friends far and wide, last week we gathered for Jana Brike's latest solo show as well as an intimate musical serenade by Anomie Belle who sat beside a wall of artwork from her new album "Flux".
Jana, here all the way from Latvia, embodied the same poise and intricacy as her work while graciously mingling with collectors and other visiting artists. Her beautiful oil paintings fill the majority of the gallery, seeming to take us through a fairytale-like experience from an intriguingly conscious perspective.
Adjacently, a colorful wall of work features the same subject seen by 14 different artists, many of which were in attendance. Toward the end of the evening, Anomie Belle sat with her acoustic guitar and sang beautifully for the crowd. Hearing her while seeing the work brought out the beautiful commonality, confirmed by Anomie, which is a feeling of appearing and disappearing simultaneously.
Various conversations being had between artists and friends.
Jana Brike with her piece "The End of the Lonesome Road", a feature of her show "Superabundance of Ordinary Being"
Another angle of art discussion and camaraderie.
Musical artist Anomie Belle with feature solo artist Jana Brike.
A glimpse of the two shows at once.
Admiring a colorful corner of Jana's work.
Anomie Belle singing and playing beside the collection of work for her new album, "Flux".
Redd Walitzki, one of the group show artists, with her lazer cut and mixed media piece "Anomie Belle 004" in the background.
Enjoying the rare acoustic sounds of Anomie Belle, who typically plays electronic music.
The front of the gallery showing four of Jana's larger pieces in a peaceful natural light.