Adebayo Bolaji

http://www.thequarterconcept.com/thejournals/2017/3/7/bolaji-an-interview-with-an-artist

Adebayo Bolaji is an artist among other professions such as actor, writer and director. Born 1983 in London, where he currently works and resides, he is of Nigerian descent. One of his main qualities to his working theory is honesty and play. He believes it is important to maintain a childlike rhythm, to utilise its rich unpredictable and truthful qualities.

“Ade believes you should walk into a room and be a child first. That is how his “technique” is formed. He says, if you go into your work with an unpredicted child like mind, your true self will immediately be shown.  Edit with your mature self, and you should have an accomplished piece.” The Quater Concept Interview

His influences derive from life, music and environments, but more specifically from artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jean Dubuffet.

Here is a collection of images taken from both Bolaji’s website and The Quater Concept’s Interview.

I discovered him on Instagram and began exploring his website, where I came across OCHRE PRESS, a London based arts media collective started in September 2017, whose focus is representing emerging artists and writers. Bolaji has published a limited edition poetry book through this collective, producing 3 versions. 2 more expensive versions with different covers, and a less expensive version. Another artist on their site who I knew the name of was artist Daisy Parris, a person who I also adore.

Bolaji also has a Youtube channel which contains clips of his multi-platform work, I particularly enjoy this video of him working:

When comprehending what it is about Bolaji’s artwork which I am drawn to, I realise it might just be all aspects of it. Not only the outcome, but also the process. The rich visual language, confident clashes of vibrance met with uneasy and immature trails of line. The use of the figure, predominately faces, met with snippets of written text interwoven by layers of textured colour, coexisting with fragmented unity to create strong solid compositions.

Something I thoroughly enjoy about discovering artists of this era is the abundance of information to be easily accessed. One of my favourite things is to be able to watch them work. To see a clip of an artist who I admire working is so insightful and inspiring, not just on a practical and technical level but it can completely change how I view the works (of any artist for that matter). To see the energy, the rhythm, the habits and techniques, and to attempt to understand the decision making process. I am definitely a fan and supported of the process being just as important, if not more so, then the outcome. Without the process, there would be no outcome. To go to a gallery and see a finished piece of artwork is insightful and astounding no doubt about it. But to be able to see the thought and process to getting to that outcome is somewhat more impressive and almost more valuable. It allows a relationship with the artist to be more personal. However obviously this cannot truly exist alongside the finished result, unless documented and expressed through moving or static image. This is perhaps the main reason why I utilise Instagram so much. It provides a ‘real’ insight into the lives and works of creators. It provides a personal live feed of their work and their life. It breaks down notions of us and them, humanising and bridging the gap.

 

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References:

 

Jan Švankmajer

Jan Švankmajer is a Czech surrealist artist and filmmaker. His work consists of several media and has influenced other artists such as Terry Gilliam (Monty Python) and Tim Burton. He has produced 7 feature-length films and 27 short films covering the time span from 1964 to 1992. He is largely most known for his distinctive use of stop-frame technique, and his ability to make surreal, nightmarish yet funny pictures. He currently lives and works in Prague.

I have seen his work a few times before online and have always been drawn to it. The abrupt content and way it is expressed really captivates me as things go from normal to strange to stranger. Švankmajer often manages to give enough information and context to enable a mild understanding, or at least guide the viewers towards constructing a metaphorical understanding. Top quality absurdity.

Sources:

DON’T HUG ME I’M SCARED

Similar to the work of Kirsten Lepore, is a online video series called ‘Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (often abbreviated to DHMIS) is a British animated surreal horror comedy web series created by filmmakers Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling. It currently consists of six episodes, released from 29 July 2011 to 19 June 2016 through the artists’ website, and later to YouTube and Vimeo.

Each episode starts like a typical children’s series, consisting of anthropomorphic puppets akin to Sesame Street, but eventually takes a surreal plot twist in the climax, usually set with psychedelic disturbing content involving graphic violence and jump scares. However, at the same time, the series parodies children’s shows by ironically juxtaposing puppetry and musical songs against mature content. The six episodes explore the subjects of creativity, time, love, technology, health, and dreaming.

Sloan and Pelling met while studying Fine Art, and Animation respectively at Kingston University where they started THIS IS IT Collective with some friends. They produced the first episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared in their free time with no budget. When they started on the project they imagined making it into a series, but initially dropped the idea after finishing the first episode. After the short film gained popularity, they decided to expand it into a series. Channel 4’s Random Acts commissioned the second episode. The show soon attracted mainstream commissioners, but Sloan and Pelling turned them down because they “wanted to keep it fairly odd” and “have the freedom to do exactly what we wanted.”

In May 2013, Sloan and Pelling announced that they would start a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to make four or more additional episodes, one every three months, starting in September 2014. They uploaded low-quality camera footage of the characters being taken hostage and held for ransom. A 12-year-old American boy tried to use hacked credit card information to donate £35,000 to the campaign, but he was caught and those funds were thrown out. Their Kickstarter goal of £96,000 was reached on 19 June 2014, and in total £104,935 was raised.

In January 2016, Sloan and Pelling collaborated with Lazy Oaf to release a line of clothing based on the characters and themes of the show.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Hug_Me_I%27m_Scared

I have seen clips of the videos a while ago, but my housemate Charlie is idiotically obsessed with them, and subsequently sings and dances scenes from the videos, and made me watch every single one with him. And I am rather grateful, as the craftsmanship, aesthetic and humour is exquisite.

This is the first video they made, separate to the DHMIS series, but not any less beautiful:

Here are all 6 videos in the Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared series:

 

 

Kirsten Lepore

One evening a few weeks ago, I needed to urinate. And so, I put on my dressing gown and went downstairs. When I reached the living area, I encountered Harry Cole watching a strange video. I was instantly intrigued and captivated by its nature. He had stumbled across it while scrolling through his Facebook news feed. I must admit, after watching it for a few seconds, I almost relieved myself there and then. After briskly doing a massive slash, I sat and watched the whole video. Here it is:

I love pretty much everything about it. Its aesthetic, politeness, and general flattery. Not to mention the processes involved with creating it. It tickled me just right.

I then researched who made it, and subsequently fell deeply in love with Kirsten Lepore. Here are some of her other works which I adore with my whole being, especially this first one..

She even worked with the creators of Adventure Time to create an episode which can be watched here:

http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Bad-Jubies-Adventure-Time-episode

(could not embed it for some reason)

The making of video is equally as captivating:

DON KENN

Sunday 23rd October 2016

When researching for artists which my chosen concept could apply to, I came across the work of Don Kenn. In the past, people have looked through my sketchbook and recommended Kenn to me as someone I’d probably like, so I am mildly familiar with his sticky-note drawings, but I have never studied him in depth.

Danish artist John Kenn Mortensen (also known as Don Kenn) writes and directs television shows for kids, but during his free time he pays tribute to the darker, spookier side of childhood filled with monsters and ghosts. Ugly, terrifying and bone-chilling monsters creep out of the darkest childhood nightmares and right into Kenn’s sticky notes. That’s right – the artist draws his highly imaginative little scenarios, where kids meet ghastly monsters, entirely on yellow post-its. In this context, the creativity and intricacy of these little drawings truly leaves one in awe.

I feel he is a good artist to study for this project as he draws fiction. He creates scenarios and new worlds and characters, which is exactly what I am doing. I feel my work relates to Kenn both conceptually and visually to an extent. He uses visual language similar to that in my work, including use of line, size and mediums. His ability to create a small, sticky-note sized widows into an alternate reality is inspiring.

Sources:

NINA CHANEL ABNEY

Monday 17th October 2016

After reading an interview in the July edition of Juxtapoz magazine, I fell in love with the work of Nina Chanel Abney, and what she said really resonated with me. The interview is titled ‘Mad Explosive Spontaneity’ and was conducted by Kristin Farr.

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Top: ‘Hothouse’, Middle: ‘Untitled’, Bottom: ‘Why’. Last 2 from ‘Always A Winner’ series. She largely works with acrylics and spray paints.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Intro of article: Fire and energy radiate in Nina Chanel Abney’s spellbinding work, which is timely, but not transient. She creates catalysts for substantive, political dialogue firmly rooted in humour, abstract ideas, and the raw experience of life- essentially all the elements of staying power. Carefully crafted visual mash-ups demand your gave as veiled symbols reveal  themselves slowly. If you feel uncomfortable, it says more about you than the art. They throw that question right back at you. What are you about?’

N: “I feel like I am regurgitating the information I take in directly onto the canvas and distilling it when I evaluate the end result.” “my work has been described as ‘easy to swallow, hard to digest'”

Does each painting have a narrative, or are they more like abstractions of an overall conversaion?

– “A lot of my earlier work had a specific message, but now my paintings are definitely like abstractions of a conversation I want to have. I’ve become more interested in mixing disjointed narratives and abstraction, and finding interesting ways to obscure any possible story that can be assumed when viewing my work. I want the work to provoke people to formulate their own ideas surrounding the different subjects in my work.”

I see the work “No” show up a lot.

– “Works like ‘No’, ‘Stop’, ‘Yes’, and ‘Go’ make people pay attention, sometimes stopping them in their tracks. I create very busy paintings, so sometimes I feel it’s necessary to use these words to create small moments of pause, or to attempt to bring your attention to something specific”

Are there artists you admire who make you want to challenge yourself more?

– “Picasso, Léger, Stuart Davis, Matisse, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Peter Saul all inspire me to create as much work as I can and work harder in the studio. I am also motivated by any artist who works diligently. I love visiting other artists. I am inspired every time.”

Do your paintings tell you what to do?

– “Absolutely. A great example of this is that it would be extremely difficult, nearly impossible, for me to recreate my earlier work. My process is completely intuitive and I definitely just go with what my hand naturally does, and I do think the paintings guide me.”

“Before I create a paintings, I usually have a general idea of what I want to discuss within the work, but because I work intuitively, the ideas are simultaneously changing and evolving until the painting is complete.”

Do you have TV on while you paint?

– “Yes, I either watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or watch documentaries on Netflix. Sometimes it just serves as background noise. Other times, I put things on in the studio that are relevant to whatever I’m working on.”

Do you always like your newest work most?

– “Typically, yes, because it’s most indicative of where I am currently at in my life. And the newest work is usually more confident that the last work. I usually have resolved an issue in some way. However, overall, I am never completely satisfied with any painting becasue I always find something that I could’ve done differently or better.”

An interesting article about her life and ‘Always A Winner’ pieces:

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/10/nina-chanel-abney-painter-always-a-winner-interview

An interesting video about the ‘Always A Winner’ pieces:

Sources:

ANDRÉ BUTZER

Thursday 13th October 2016

Another artist who’s direction I was led would be André Butzer.

Butzer’s work contains a playful innocence due to its use of colour and cartoon-like characters. Similar to Meese’s work, I feel a melancholic undertone, but overshadowed by child-like marks and blocks of colour. His ghostly and vacant faces provoke mood with addition to his often muddied pallet. The loud and chaotic compositions force the eye to dance all over each piece, causing a feeling of overwhelm. Some of his pieces remind me of Jackson Pollock’s work, due to their busy dynamic and directional lines of colour.

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Butzer was born in StuttgartGermany and lives in Rangsdorf near Berlin. He makes semi-abstract paintings that feature cartoon-like characters and objects.[2] Butzer is interested in the comic genre, whose ambivalence comes on the one hand from a childlike inflation of effect and on the other hand from an artificial lifelessness, set beyond morality.[3] Butzer’s work has been called Science-Fiction-Expressionism,[4] he is influenced by James EnsorWillem de Kooning, and Phillip Guston.[5] In 1997, he helped to found Akademie Isotrop in Hamburg.[6]

“André Butzer’s work is characterized by an intensive exploration of the limits and possibilities of the medium painting, while the artist develops a strong personal universe. André Butzer initially created expressive pictures of intense colours, marked by an artificially exaggerated reality; then an increasing abstraction prevailed, occasionally interspersed with figurative elements, while some of his recent paintings, the N-Bilder, concentrate on the energetic force of an elaborated contrast of maximum pictorial means. Apparently laid down in series, these works moreover manifest their own status of being non-transferable determinations.”

Sources:

JONATHAN MEESE

Thursday 13th October 2013

Amongst other artists, I was directed towards the work of Jonathan Meese.At first glance, I instantly fell into his complex and hypnotic paintings and drawings, becoming captivated by their sheer chaos and expressive nature. I adore his use of colour and text, which are seemingly layered upon each other creating a bold fabric of spontaneity. His dramatic abstract  fiction creates underlying melancholic tones, featuring creatures and faces emerging from the depths of his own precision and lunacy. Some of Meese’s pieces remind me of work by NECKFACE and Basquiat due to the bold outlines of characters, facial features, and colour palette.

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Jonathan Meese (born January 23, 1970) is a German paintersculptorperformance artist and installation artist based in Berlin and Hamburg. Meese’s (often multi-media) works include collages, drawings and writing. He also designs theater sets and wrote and starred in a play, “De Frau: Dr. Poundaddylein – Dr. Ezodysseusszeusuzur” in 2007 at the Volksbühne Theater.

Sources:

ANDREW FOSTER

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Andrew Foster in front of his painting, Precious in thy sight, at the Camden exhibition.

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Pain will not have the last word ( 75ft scroll)

After experiencing 3 miscarriages Foster produced a 75 ft scroll presenting moments and memories which he would have experienced and shared with his children if they were alive. The piece presents the very personal, raw emotions and experiences of the miscarriages from the perspective of a father, challenging traditional masculine macho culture and delivering a message of miscarriages being a shared experience between partners and not exclusive to the mother.

 

Website:

Articles about his work: