Enormous Animals and Human Hybrids Interact in Enigmatic Landscapes by Bill Mayer

Bill Mayer is an artist-illustrator based in Decatur, Georgia whose work spans various mediums and styles. He is best known for his intricate and detailed illustrations that have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and TIME Magazine, to name a few.

Mayer’s artwork is a masterpiece of imagination and creativity. His illustrations blend traditional and modern techniques that evoke a sense of wonder and amazement in the viewer. His work is characterized by its attention to detail and vivid colors, and he displays a keen sense of humor that is charming and captivating. Bill’s illustrations are often complex and layered, inviting the viewer to look closer and discover the hidden details.

Featured image: “The Black Swan” Image © Bill Mayer

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The Infinite, Never-Released Scream

In her pared-down, figurative paintings, often of a lone female, Asako Tabata presents a stark, unsettling vision of a society in which women have little chance to achieve autonomy. At first glance “A Wolf Is Coming!” (2023) seems to be the artist revisiting Aesop’s fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The painting depicts what looks like a blue-haired adolescent girl standing against a Chinese red ground, with her hands at her side and an oval, representing an open mouth, on her otherwise featureless face.

There is no sign of a wolf in the painting. And yet, the Aesop reading doesn’t strike me as quite right. What are we to make of the ominous black cloud in the painting? Does it imply that dangerous forces are present? Does the open mouth suggest that she is crying for help or is the sound stuck in her mouth, unable to exit? The woman’s pose, her arms close at her sides, indicates that she is frustrated and frozen rather than, as in the fable, crying out in false alarm.

Featured image: Asako Tabata, “Why Should I Even Bother?” (2023), oil on canvas, acrylic on papier-mâché, wood board; painting: 28.6 x 71.7 inches; sculpture: 20.5 x 24.4 x 19.3 inches

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Fragile Moths, Butterflies, and Botanicals Commingle in Żaneta Antosik’s Moody Digital Illustrations

From her studio in Rawa Mazowiecka, Poland, Żaneta Antosik turns her eye toward the delicacies of the natural world as she renders the soft, frail forms of plants and insects. The artist primarily works digitally, sometimes beginning with a simple sketch on paper but often drawing directly in Procreate. Rendered on black or beige backdrops to reference a night sky or daytime light, each piece pays particular attention to the minuscule details, whether the tufted body of a moth or the speckled sepals of a poppy flower.

Image © Żaneta Antosik

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At Elmhurst Art Museum, Contemporary Figurative Artists Reconsider Picasso’s Artistic Legacy Fifty Years After His Death

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death, Elmhurst Art Museum joins a global movement of shows looking back at the artist’s work in Picasso: 50 Years Later, a celebration of his unmistakable influence on modern art.

Organized in three parts, the exhibition introduces Picasso in the context of his contemporaries, like Alexander Archipenko, Fernand Léger, and Joan Miró. 

Pablo Picasso, “Bacchanal with Kid Goat and Onlooker” (1959), linocut proof. Image © 2023 Estate of Pablo Picasso and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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The Art and Spirituality of Nicholas Roerich

Nicholas Roerich, Buddha, the Conqueror from the Banners of the East series, ca. 1925, International Center of the Roerichs, Moscow, Russia.

Nicholas Roerich, a prominent member of the early 20th-century art world, was distinguished by his unique artistic style and profound spiritual vision. His expansive body of work encompassed various forms, including painting as well as set design. A true visionary, Roerich’s creations were a manifestation of his deep insights and philosophical inclinations. They transcend mere aesthetics to convey deeper meanings and connections.

Early Life of Nicholas Roerich

Born in 1874 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, Nicholas Roerich enjoyed a privileged upbringing–his father held a position as a notary public. He studied law at Saint Petersburg State University and then obtained formal art education at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. Roerich had a deep reverence for Russian art and history. He crossed paths with Helena Shaposhnikova in 1899, who became his wife and spiritual partner. Their shared journey commenced with explorations of their homeland shortly after the marriage.

As their family expanded, the couple along with their children traversed the globe, venturing through Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, he made India his home for a significant portion of his life, from the early 1920s until his passing in 1947. He settled in the town of Naggar, located in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh.

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From Brooklyn to the Bronx in 36 Paintings

Stipan Tadić, “Yankee Stadium – 161st Street” (2022), oil on canvas, 18 x 14 inches

For most of 2022, Stipan Tadić rode the D train from Coney Island to the Bronx and back as he meticulously explored each stop, retracing the route countless times in search of perfect scenes for his series of New York cityscapes. Now, Tadić’s finished project Metropolis: 36 Views of New York — composed of 36 oil canvases that document the blocks surrounding the subway line — is on view through September 5 at James Fuentes Gallery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

The result is a series of ubiquitous New York imagery: chicken hanging in a steamy restaurant window, delivery drivers waiting in the cold, and the unabashed stare of a bodega cat. Sometimes Tadić sketched what he saw and other times he snapped photographs, bringing both back to his studio to paint them in his characteristic cartoonish style.

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Flora and Fauna Entwine in Lauren Marx’s Mixed-Media Studies of Life and Death

“Queen of the Night” (2021)

The living and the dead coexist in vivid color in the fantastic tableaus of artist Lauren Marx (previously). From her St. Louis studio, Marx entangles predators and prey with flora and fauna in dense scenes rendered in a mix of pen, watercolor, and colored pencil. Snakes burst open to reveal feathered wings, an owl snacks on the maroon entrails of a rabbit, and a three-headed creature sprouts dried grass from its midsection. Straddling the line between the beautiful and the brutally grotesque, the works intertwine myriad species and states of being.

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How Artists Portrayed Spanish Civil War: Guernica and Bombardment

Reuben Kadish and Philip Guston, Panel from The Inquisition, 1935, Museo Michoacano, Morelia, Mexico.

On April 26th, 1937 the world was shaken by the news of the destructive force that targeted Guernica – a town in the Basque Region of Spain, which fell victim to a brutal Spanish Civil War. The scale of the destruction and the unprecedented targeting of civilians broke the news in Western media, but it was art that ingrained Guernica’s story as one of the most vicious attacks of the 20th century.

The Destruction of Guernica

Why was this event so shocking? It was the first time the air raid on such a large scale targeted civilians. The horror experienced by the victims was publicized by foreign war correspondents covering the Spanish Civil War.

“A Government official, tears streaming down his face, burst into the dismal dining-room crying: ‘Guernica is destroyed. The Germans bombed and bombed and bombed.’ The time was about 9.30 p.m. Captain Roberts banged a huge fist on the table and said: ‘Bloody swine.’ Five minutes later I was in one of Mendiguren’s limousines speeding towards Guernica. We were still a good ten miles away when I saw the reflection of Guernica’s flames in the sky. As we drew nearer, on both sides of the road, men, women, and children were sitting, dazed. I saw a priest in one group. I stopped the car and went up to him. ‘What I happened, Father?’ I asked. His face was blackened, his clothes in tatters. He couldn’t talk. He just pointed to the flames, still about four miles away, then whispered: ‘Aviones. . . bombas’. . . mucho, mucho“ – the words of Noel Monks, the first war correspondent to enter the city of Guernica, Spain, on 26th April 1937 (Noel Monks, Eyewitness, 1955).

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Masterpiece Story: The Railway Station by Alf Rolfsen

Alf Rolfsen, The Railway Station, 1932, Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway. Enlarged Detail.

Steam, breath, and sweat combine into a pulsating cloud filling the railway station with energy and anticipation. Everyone is in motion either towards or away from the trains and it is here that journeys begin and journeys end. In reality, the railway station is a hub of untold stories passing along platforms and track lines. We see one such story in Alf Rolfsen’s The Railway Station (Den store stasjon). In this painting, Rolfsen captures a single moment in human experience, exploring hope, desire, peace, and loss. And, in addition, what it means to be human in the modern age.

Alf Rolfsen was a Norwegian painter who captured the vibrancy and intensity of the modern age. His wonderful painting, The Railway Station depicts a large train station, a space filled with three trains and a multitude of figures. Two passengers and two luggage carriers fill the foreground while an embracing couple can be seen in the mid-ground. One of the passengers, a blonde woman in a white fur coat, dominates the foreground with her chic silhouette and calm appearance. She is poised and stylish – a modern woman. Like the railway station, this beautiful woman represents the youth and vigor of a new age. In this painting, Rolfsen has embraced progress. Its style reflects both Modernism and Futurism, praising speed, machinery, industry and offering a rejection of the traditional past. It is the machine age.

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Subtle Hues and Papery Textures Create Intimate Atmospheres in Lea Woo’s Tender Illustrations

Image © Lea Woo

Lea Woo coaxes subtle polarities from her illustrated interactions. Centering on women in moments of quiet affection and admiration, the renderings contrast a vintage style with modern subjects and a largely soft color palette with spots of bolder hues. “Red, a frequently used tone in my works, represents bravery and boldness and green a close relationship with mother nature,” she shares. Grainy, paper-like textures add to the retro feel of the scenes, which convey a warm tenderness between people and the birds, fish, and cats around them.

Based between Shanghai and Hangzhou, Woo draws stark distinctions between her personal works and commissions—recent collaborators include Burberry and The New Yorker.

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