Chris Berens grew up near the historic Netherlands city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, steeped in the atmosphere exalted by painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer. From an early age, he was immersed in his own inner world, a luminous realm inhabited by enigmatic characters and menageries of strange, compelling creatures. After studying illustration at the Academy of Art and Design in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, he retired to an abandoned building near his hometown and proceeded to teach himself the techniques of the Old Masters, consumed with a desire to document the wondrous narrative unfolding within him. Eventually he set aside his oil paints and began experimenting with drawing inks, a fluid medium which allowed greater flexibility than oils, as well as spectacular distortion effects reminiscent of the view through an ancient handmade lens. When he was able to depict his visions with some degree of accuracy, he moved to Amsterdam, and in 2005 began exhibiting at the venerable Jaski Gallery. After four successful shows in Amsterdam, he released the book 2239, and then moved on to conquer the New World. His 2008 American debut, “Go West,” followed the shambolic journey of his internal universe across the North Pole to the show’s venue in Seattle. Since then, Berens has continued to paint with a passionate fervor, resulting in a remarkable evolution in his technique and three more triumphal exhibitions. In his most recent work, he wraps his visionary mythology around an epic saga about the arrival of his first child, Emma Leeuwenhart.
Los Angeles, June 2011
This painting depicts the limitations society places on women, corrupting what truly is beautiful by placing them in these prisons of identity. By doing so, society is asking them to become superheroes. The work is an offset of American comics, synonymous to entertainment and fun. This is exactly the goal of the series - a daily struggle against that which is imposed by society and the very expectations we impose on ourselves I keep myself busy in many ways; single mom, business woman, artist, the household, romance, errands. It puts a lot on one’s shoulders. We overwork ourselves. We are all slaves to something or of something. And in comic books, despite all the playfulness of the thing itself and all the “POW BING BAM,” superheroes are also fragile. We are merely human men and women and we are entitled to the flaws and errors. Lets be proud of who we are, be fierce and strong.
Sandra Chevrier, who calls herself a “gaze collector,” creates hyperrealistic paintings of women that stare out towards the viewer. Reinterpreting the superhero mask, Chevrier covers these images with a collage of comic book prints, using scenes from Superman and Batman to conceal the faces of these idealized women. Chevrier selects sections of comic books that portray “fragile heroes,” promoting the idea that vulnerability often underlies heroism. Titled “Cages,” these mixed-media works encourage viewers to consider how the modern woman—like these superheroes—might also be surrounded by expectations of effortless perfection.
Jennybird Alcantara's minutely detailed oil paintings possess un-borrowed symbolism, drawing the viewer deeply into a world both strange and beautiful. Dreamlike narratives form the core her paintings where the complex interconnectedness of opposites appear through the prism of myth, fable and fantasy. Jennybird uses the symbolism of duality to explore the connection of life and death and the veil in between.
Born a minister's son in 1977 in Seoul Korea, Young Chun remembers as a child, living in a small attachment to a hillside church for a brief time. The weekdays spent running around with imaginary friends in the dim empty chapel has fueled his imagination, contributing to his artistic growth. The "chapel" has become a permanent fixture in his creative mind - where he constructs, develops, and stores works in progress, before they ever meet a sketchpad. In 2000, Young received his B.F.A, from the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena California. After several years of painting without clear direction, he stumbled into the opposite end of the spectrum - into the healthcare field - to search for "substance" and "something deeper in life". The years spent working as a respiratory therapist, helping people who were faced with life and death situations, has expanded his outlook in life; adding to his artistic vision. In February of 2011, Young resumed working as a full time artist. He currently lives and works in Orange County, California.