In our column, Artist File, art advisor Diana Hamm of WK ART shares the art forms to keep an eye out for.
Trends in the art world often capture the spirit of the moment, allowing us to see what artists are collectively thinking about. Reflecting on a year like 2020 is particularly interesting because there’s so much need and want for social change, and artists are often at the forefront of this desire. Here are four of the biggest movements in the art world right now.
A Return To Still Life
Recently, I’m seeing a return to figuration and representational art, including still life. While it isn’t the type of still life that adorns museum walls and great estates of the past, this contemporary version has an energy and urgency, making it feel utterly now.
Holly Coulis is a prime example. Her work is more abstracted and imaginative than the Old Masters — think Caravaggio or Cézanne — and she uses her subject as a way to explore surface and line. She loves the intimacy of a still life and how it feels as though you’ve stumbled upon somebody’s private sphere. I find this aspect appealing, too: the arranged or unarranged contents of someone’s life seems so voyeuristic yet inviting. I really like how she divides her canvas into geometric domains, distorting a typical still life pictorial plane but with all the elements still present. Here, we see eggplants and turnips, and their relationship to the setting is what makes the painting rooted in the tradition of still life.
Holly Coulis is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York and Philip Martin Gallery in L.A. Her work starts at about $6,600.
Photographer: Courtesy of Holly Coulis & Philip Martin Gallery
Products: One Eggplant, Two Turnips (2019) by Holly Coulis
I love how wall sculpture can completely transform a space in a way that a two-dimensional work doesn’t. Because of its tactile nature, it adds an unexpected change of surface and texture. Two Canadian artists who are doing some interesting work in this area are
Jeremy Hof and Jennifer Rose Sciarrino. Jennifer’s work reflects back on nature; she explores different forms of endangered lichen and transforms them into cast glass. The artist’s presence is felt and seen: her fingerprints are permanently left in the glass as she handmolds her pieces. An interplay between human intervention and natural processes, this work explores the complex issues of the world around us.
Jennifer Rose Sciarrino is represented by Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto. Her work starts at $3,000.
Photographer: Jennifer Rose Sciarrino & Daniel Faria Gallery
Products: canary 3 (2020) by Jennifer Rose Sciarrino
Jeremy uses acrylic paint as his starting point, which he builds up over time. In his latest pieces, he casts moulds of his old work, which he then further layers with paint. The visual result is a stunning replica of the final strokes of the original piece in glossy, candy-like colors. Wall sculpture often pushes the limits and boundaries of art: expanding the confines of painting, for example, or changing the patterns in what already exists. It’s captivating, and a pleasure to view.
Jeremy Hof is represented by Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver. His cast works start at $12,000.
Photographer: Jeremy Hof & Monte Clark Gallery
Products: Lite Green Cast Painting ; Purple Cast Painting; Lite Yellow Cast Painting (all 2020) by Jeremy Hof
I find it fascinating when artists work together. Creating something is so wholly personal, that to give and take during the process could be a new way to fuel creative exploration. A duo who’s been working together for many years is
Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber. They work in acrylic on MDF board in a quick, illustrative manner. There’s a large focus on text and language in these works. My favorite series is the Flower Series, always accompanied by a line of text. These lines are often darkly humorous or reflective; sometimes making perfect sense, sometimes very little. There’s an intimacy in these small works, perhaps simply in knowing that they were created by two minds put together.
Dumontier and Farber are represented by Patel Brown Gallery in Toronto. Prices start at $1,200.
Photographer: Michael Dumontier & Neil Farber & Patel Brown Gallery
Products: Seeds Blown Together From Every Direction (2020) by Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber
The New Textile Art
Artists have been taking up weaving, looming and tapestry, incorporating craft, folk art and fabric into the lexicon of contemporary art. Perhaps the most recognized Canadian artist working in this format is
Brent Wadden. His work is a perfect conflation of folk art and fine art. Working in a traditional manner with woven fibers, his visual language, however, is much more steeped in an abstract, geometric tone. There’s warmth emanating from these pieces because they’re textiles rather than canvases. I love the simple visual language he uses in order to explore his ideas of repetition and the way in which flaws or glitches emerge through this process of repeating the same form.
Brent Wadden is represented by Peres Projects in L.A. and Berlin. His work starts at about $39,900.
Photographer: Peres Projects
Products: To Be Titled (2017) by Brent Wadden
Another artist working in a similar way is
Simone Saunders. Her fascination with textiles stems from the idea of a search for belonging. She sees the interconnections of a culture or society reflected in tapestry as all its threads come together to create a single whole. She uses bright colors as a way of celebrating her subjects, often Black people who inspire her. Her tufted portraits offer an alternate narrative to the image of the objectified Black woman and, instead, show women of power and beauty.
Simone Saunders lives in Alberta, and her work can be seen online at simoneelizabeth.ca.
Photographer: Simone Saunders
Products: Alicia (2020) by Simone Saunders
Author: Diana Hamm
House & Home January/February 2021