A New Look At Art

Writing about artist Jason Salavon for an H&H article in 2013 was an inspiring and eye-opening experience. His fascinating process and technical abilities still amaze me.

An avowed techie, this Chicago-based artist creates digital, video and real-time pieces using his own software. His riffs on popular culture include the movie Titanic, MTV videos and Playboy centrefolds. In 100 Special Moments, Salavon culled 100 commemorative photos (everything from wedding photos, Little League portraits and shots of kids on Santa’s knee) from the Internet. Fed through a custom averaging process, the resulting aggregate photos produce a hazy, sfmato (blurred edge) image that is eerie and anonymous, yet recognizable.

In 2006 there were more Ikea catalogues in print (175 million, to be exact) than the Bible. Salavon takes the 2007 Ikea catalogue and reduces it to pure colour and structure in Field Guide to Style & Color.

Salavon’s digital C-print, Generic Mammal Skull (13% baboon, 36% bear, 46% human, 5% wild boar), looks realistic, but is completely synthetic. Check out Salavon’s fascinating time-lapse video excerpt of a morphing skull. “As an artist I am not beholden to same masters as scientists,” says Salavon. “I have the possibility of free investigation: trying to reconcile the cold with the hot.”

Originally commissioned for the U.S. Census Bureau headquarters, the American Varietal project is a 40-foot “data-mural” representing the growth of the U.S. population over 220 years, which is expressed by colourful, swirling wisps. In his new work, Salavon continues the exploration of a central theme: uniqueness and group membership. “I am a subjective being that feels unique and special, and yet I am one of 7 billion people on the planet. All individuals aggregate to form other stuff, whether you are talking about molecules, cells, people, or countries.” 

We also featured three other artists whose work has a similar graphic approach. Always working with at least an idea of how her handcrafted images will turn out, Jessica Eaton‘s works are evocative of computer-generated pieces, but contain an authentic realism often not found in digital prints. Shown, cfaal 212.

In mid-2012, Eaton, now based in Montreal, received the Grand Jury prize at the International Festival of Fashion & Photography in Hyères, France. With eleven exhibitions in the past year or so, and her name on pundits’ best-new-artist lists everywhere, it’s official. At 35, Regina-born Jessica Eaton is a blazing star on the international scene. Shown, cfaal222.

“I’m a big fan of painting,” says Oregon-based artist Akihiko Miyoshi. “For example, my self-portrait with bands of misty colour alludes to colour-field painting.” Inspired by Mark Rothko’s abstracts and recalling Kenneth Noland’s squares within squares, Miyoshi adorned a mirror with sticky-tape pictograms that loosely recall types of art by these modern greats.

While the ersatz artworks appear in ultra-sharp focus, dust and fingerprints on the mirror included, the artist remains a dimly reflected cipher with a large camera obscuring his head. These Miyoshi portraits are part of the We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live exhibition of nine Oregon artists on tour throughout 2013 to various American art centres.

Lori-Ann Bellissimo is a Toronto artist who returned to Canada two years ago after working and exhibiting in Asia and Italy over a five-year span. Her work involves trapping acrylic and mixed media under individual layers of clear water-based resin. Shown, Pattern Integrity: 2 of 6.

Once Malaysia’s top fashion magazine staged a shoot in front of one of Lori-Ann Bellissimo’s paintings, highlighting how the batiked patterns and colours in the model’s clothing closely matched the artwork. Bellissimo, who was living there and loving the indigenous textiles, says “I’m always thinking about local colour, whether it’s the bus driver’s shirt or the multi-facets of a woman’s hair.” Shown, Made In Italy: Overwhelmed 1 of 3

For more great finds, read Beth Edwards’ blog about Art Online.

Photo credits:
1-4. Jason Salavon
5-6. M+B Gallery
7-8. Circuit Gallery
9-10. Walter Willems for ArtBarrage

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Wendy Jacob (with files from Betty Ann Jordan)