Critique Collective

Critique Collective is your source for information and interviews about emerging and established contemporary artists.

Tag: figure

Beautiful Figurative Paintings and Conceptual Masterpieces by Pablo Mercado

Pablo Mercado is a Spanish artist living in Berlin who holds a Masters in Art, Creation, and Research from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and BFA from the Universidad de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. In 2013, his artwork has exhibited in the Freies Museum Berlin, Säulensaal des Berliner Rotes Rathaus, and Museo Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) in A Coruña, Spain. Pablo Mercado has also exhibited in various galleries throughout Germany and Spain. His artwork is available online at http://www.pablomercado.es.

lomo3

lomo1

lomo4


Paul Weiner:
Do you think that it is more important for artwork to be conceptually strong or aesthetically strong?

Pablo Mercado:
That is an interesting question, which I have often discussed with artist friends. I think we should find a balance between the two ideas, but, for me, the aesthetic is very important to communicate with the spectator. In a world saturated with information, it is important to draw the spectator’s attention to tell them something. You have to establish a dialogue with the spectator, and the first step is to say “hello” with a scream. Well, that scream, to me, is the aesthetics. However, if there is not a strong concept behind it, the conversation between the work and the spectator becomes trivial and superficial.

photobooth

recalldrawing

recall painting

Paul Weiner:
I definitely agree with your idea about saying “hello” with a scream. Do you think the same kind of “hello” can also be produced through conceptual shock? What if artwork is so erotic or violent that it attracts attention?

Pablo Mercado:
I think that conceptual shock is a part of the conversation. It is deeper than that. Personally, I do not like erotic or violent art when it is used just to attract attention and not because it is necessary for the concept. I find it superficial, or maybe too easy. I prefer a more subtle way to do it, something a little bit more cryptic that makes the spectator question himself.

Paul Weiner:
Do you find exhibiting in Germany to be different from exhibiting in Spain? If yes, how?

Pablo Mercado:
I have only shown in two German cities, Leipzig and Berlin. But, essentially, I think the public has no boundaries. We can talk about different audiences, but not because of their nationality. In Berlin, there is a great interest for art and especially in the openings.

Paul Weiner:
Describe your interest in the human memory.

Pablo Mercado:
Three years ago, when I moved to Berlin, I became interested in the aura of melancholy that surrounds this city, as well as the taste for the past with flea markets, vintage fashions, and analog technology. This idea that previous times were better is a postmodern characteristic that has always interested me very much. However, the human brain is full of defense mechanisms that make it impossible to give a true picture of the past. The brain interprets and selectively forgets memories to survive. I am very interested all these mechanisms and the idea of selecting fragments that retain and others that are hidden somewhere.

substitution

Substitution

substitution1

Substitution

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Substitution

Paul Weiner:
Interesting. Could you explain or define a few of these mechanisms or processes for memory?

Pablo Mercado:
I have several works based on these mechanisms, for example, Encoding, Recall, and Substitution. The human brain has two mechanisms of defense against trauma or negative memories. These mechanisms are suppression and substitution. Suppression interrupts the recovery of memories, and substitution replaces unpleasant events with others that are more enjoyable.

In Substitution, I started from two puzzles based on two well-known works in art history. One traumatic work was Five Deaths from the series Death and Disaster by Andy Warhol, and the other was A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.

I deleted traumatic parts from Warhol’s image and inserted fragments of Seurat’s work. Thereby, the recumbent bodies crushed by the car are replaced by reclining figures and the river of the Grande Jatte replaces the trail of blood. However, because the pieces of the puzzles are not the same size, I cut and modified both until they fit properly. The result is imperfect, full of little mistakes that come with works of the naked eye, but with deeper observation it clearly shows errors in the system.

Encoding

Encoding

Encoding

Encoding

Encoding

Encoding

Paul Weiner:
Tell us about your project, Encoding, and how you came to the idea of creating a sculpture to represent the process of creating memories.

Pablo Mercado:
Encoding is the brain’s ability to transform information into items that can be stored and recovered during the evocation process.

The memory of a complete experience consists of fragments of memories that are stored in different regions of the brain. Thanks to the hippocampus, which recomposes stored memories, these pieces of information are reunited from disparate parts.

In this recovery process, the brain reinterprets and modifies the memory, so the more times something is remembered, the difference between the original memory and the current memory becomes greater.

This series of works refers to the process of recovery and how the past may not be exactly as we remember it. That is, our idyllic conception of the past is unreliable.

In this installation, as in other examples of my previous work, I started with a vintage object to fragment and then suspended the parts in the air by fishing lines, creating rhythms that are reminiscent of smoke patterns. In this case, I have included the recall process. Therefore, the memory is fragmented and reassembled again in a new memory with modifications and with parts that do not fit correctly.

Lomopaintings

Lomopaintings

Lomopaintings

lomo6

Lomopaintings

Paul Weiner:

Do your Lomopaintings deal with the same idea as Encoding, as far as memory goes?

Pablo Mercado:
The Lomopaintings series was the beginning of my current line of work. In those works, there are models abstracted in time and space. They were like empty presences with the idea of a loss of faith in the present or the future, and the shelter in the past are two of the bases of these paintings. From these paintings, I came to be interested in the topic of memory. I try to talk about what means to take refuge in the past when our mechanisms to remember are so precarious.

This series of paintings mimics the aesthetic of lomography, or obsolete technology, as the new mobile devices, iPhone, smartphones, etc., do. It is just a way to use a melancholy analog medium, painting, considered obsolete.

wallpaper


Please view Pablo Mercado’s artwork online at http://www.pablomercado.es and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

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Coffee and Rebecca Jacob’s Figurative Painting Skills

Rebecca Jacob earned her BFA at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. She has also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts in New York, the Art Students League of New York, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. I picked her brain on her own art practice and thoughts about the commercial art world. Rebecca’s artwork can be found online at rebeccajacob.com.

raspberry jam and java

irish


Paul Weiner:

How do you choose a subject for a series of work? For instance, how did you happen upon coffee as a motif?

Rebecca Jacob:

Ah, the hardest question to answer! Prior to my coffee art phase, I brought in a painting to show a gallery director. His mot to me was, “you’re cute but you need to find a gimmick.”

At that time Starbucks was new, and coffee shops were just starting to become popular – hence the inception of my coffee art series. I even painted with actual coffee! Recently, I am focusing on reproducing, on linen, plant life and landscapes from my personal world. I also love literature, despite my extreme lack of writing skills. I pull from various sentences, stanzas, poems, etc. to use to title my paintings.

the morning repast

tea with sugar and cream

perhaps solitude is your preference

Paul Weiner:

Let’s talk about the landscapes and nature, then. Do you prefer to paint en plein air or in your studio? Also, do you find photography and other digital advances like Photoshop to be a useful tools or simply annoying crutches for figurative painters.

Rebecca Jacob:

I love the concept of painting en plain air but I can never seem to set aside the time. Hence, the photos in my studio where I can work at night. I use my own photos, but do not use photoshop.  Whereas it saves an artist time to use crutches, I try not to because my drawing skills suffer if I do.

Ireland Storm

Environmental

Are the Tulips too Excitable_10x10_oil on belgian linen

Paul Weiner:

Do you find, as a figurative artist, that the commercial art world has become overly focused on abstraction?

Rebecca Jacob:

With regard to the commercial world of art, don’t get me going! Art is now completely about monetary investment; if a gallery of note says it’s valuable, then it is. Art is stock for investment, nothing more. Artists seems to justify their work in saying that it is there to convey a message, but art, especially art that needs to be explained, is not the best way to convey a message.

Any element of the aesthetic has become irrelevant; this is now expected from the current fashion in the art world. Any skill involved in creating art is also irrelevant, indeed frowned upon, as old fashioned and therefore unworthy. The two basic tenets of what constitutes good art are now ignored. This is why people get away with posing as artists, and the world believes them. I feel that the figure is the hardest element to draw and paint, and should be conquered first and foremost before venturing on.

Paul Weiner:

Do you view your work as conceptual or intuitive?

Rebecca Jacob:

My work is both conceptual and intuitive depending on the day and my mood.

Paul Weiner:

Interesting. I would imagine that most people would find your work worthy of merit in an academic setting in terms of skill. So, would you say that your concepts are driven more by the commercial art world or your own curiosities?

Rebecca Jacob:

I have to admit I am driven by the commercial art world. Who doesn’t want to be a successful artist, especially after the 1980’s!  On the other hand, I also am driven by my own curiosities.

hannah

portraitmak

mad1

Paul Weiner:

Take us through the material process you use as a painter. What materials do you like to paint on and with?

Rebecca Jacob:

I generally work small, so I can afford to use the best quality canvas and paint. I have had several mishaps with low quality oil paint chipping off. I also love to work in oil due to the history of it and the lasting power of oil.

Paul Weiner:

Oil painting is certainly a traditional technique. Do you see your style as being rooted in history? Perhaps you could name a few artists who you’ve found influential.

Rebecca Jacob:

I have always been drawn to artists via their stories more than their actual work. For example, take Jackson Pollock. I enjoy reading about his life more than his actual work. Although, when I visited his studio this past fall, I found that I do love his work. I have been obsessed with the lives of artists in Paris from when Paris was the center of the art world. On visiting Paris, I was more interested in finding their haunts and residences than viewing their works. Currently I am drawn to Johannes Vermeer after reading girl with a pearl earring. I also am fascinated with how he created and ground his own colors and the materials they used back then. I currently am trying to use the colors he used in his palette.

Display Blooms Sublime, 20x20, oil on belgian linen

nmex5

nmex3


Please view Rebecca Jacob’s artwork online at http://www.rebeccajacob.com and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

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Simone Rene’s Patterns and Fabric Collage

Simone Rene is a fabric collage artist from Brooklyn, New York who holds a BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. Her artwork is available online at http://www.simonerene.com/.

11.75"x16", cloth

City Background B5, 11.75″x16″, cloth


Paul Weiner:
When did you decide to begin with the medium of fabric collage?

Simone Rene:
I began working in it about 4-5 years ago. At the time I was doing some mixed-media pieces, paint/graphite/paper/found objects and making clothing, but I couldn’t commit to either because I was torn between my love of fabric and making visuals. I was making a quilt for my nephew, one of my first. It had figures of cute monsters and their toys on it. As I was cutting, positioning, and sewing, the direction I wanted to go in suddenly dawned on me – I know, I know – Duh.

Paul Weiner:
Having studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts, do you see that impacting your style today?

Simone Rene:
I have always loved the figure, and it is pretty central in most of my work. I studied Fashion Illustration in high school and took it at SVA. I think that I am prone to elongating and manipulating the figure to sell the story much the same way fashion illustrators do in order to sell clothing.

The Ancestors A1, 10"x31", cloth

The Ancestors A1, 10″x31″, cloth

Paul Weiner:
The idea of selling a story is interesting, and I can certainly see how fashion is incorporated in your work. So, as far as stories go, do you read your artwork as a narrative?

Simone Rene:
I think of my images as grasping at just a phrase pulled from a whole story, and for me that is where the emotion is.

Paul Weiner:
How do you start one of your fabric collages? It must be tough determining which fabric to use.

Simone Rene:
Usually my concept begins with a thought, words followed by a visual that is accompanied by color. Sometimes I just find a piece of fabric that wants to be something. After I have the concept, I sort through my large fabric collection and go on hunts, both new and used, for just the right fabrics. Once I have the dominant fabric color or pattern, things seem to fall into place. I experiment with combinations and sometimes make variations of the same image. It may take a while, and I may have to return to that image over and over again while I work on other pieces, but it’s ok because art is about exploration.

The Ancestors A5, 12"x31.5", cloth

The Ancestors A5, 12″x31.5″, cloth

Paul Weiner:
Is there a particular color or pattern that has intrigued you?

Simone Rene:
I find myself drawn to black and white patterns, cerulean blues, fuchsia pinks, and flesh tones that are cool – not really into the warm autumn colors.

City Background B3, 15"x27", cloth

City Background B3, 15″x27″, cloth

City Background B1, 17"x21.5", cloth

City Background B1, 17″x21.5″, cloth

Paul Weiner:
You’ve mentioned that your family has resided in Brooklyn since the late 1700s. Could you talk specifically about your “City Background” work and how that relates to your own identity?

Simone Rene:
I grew up embedded in family and surrounded by generations of relatives, both by blood and marriage. We were American, we were New Yorkers, and we were Brooklynites.

When I was little, I don’t ever recall wondering who or what we were. I thought that the diversity of my family was normal. It wasn’t until I began middle school and began to be asked to define myself by ticking off a box that I began to consider “What was I?” note not “Who I was.” It was confusing and disheartening to be asked to define myself and by doing so chance wiping away generations of ancestors that may not be stereotypically present in face or person. It made me a bit of a rebel. I checked all the boxes and when called upon could defend that choice because I knew my family’s stories and history.

I think being generations in the city allowed for the ambiguity that did define my family and I. It allows me to explore aspects of my history with familiarity as well as distance.


Please view Simone Rene’s artwork online at http://www.simonerene.com and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

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