7 Questions for Photorealist Painter Robert Gniewek on Finding Inspiration in the Urban Landscape at Night

American artist Robert Gniewek (b. 1951) is a master of contemporary photorealism and is best known for his atmospheric portrayals of urban landscapes. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Gniewek has turned his artistic vision to cities across both the United States and Europe, maintaining a special focus on various qualities of artificial light, from the fluorescent glow of theater marquees to neon signs hanging in the windows of diners. Far from being simply a documentary, however, Gniewek aggregates elements of various vignettes to create compositions that are purely of his own artistic vision.

This month, Louis K. Meisel Gallery will present a selection of Gniewek’s latest paintings at Art Miami in booth AM408. Ahead of the exhibition, we reached out to Gniewek to learn more about the development of his singular practice, and what goes into his technically meticulous paintings.

Featured image: Robert Gniewek, Scotten Inn (2014). Courtesy of Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York.

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‘Making Her Mark’ Explores Four Centuries of Groundbreaking Women Artists in Europe

The Baltimore Museum Presents a Show to Correct the Canon

While some institutions have been slow to adapt to the tsunami of evidence that women have been the makers of many of the most brilliantly executed works throughout history, the Baltimore Museum of Art (“BMA”) has been a trailblazer. In its “2020 Vision” initiative, the museum dedicated its entire 2020 calendar year of exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions to artwork by women-identifying artists to coincide with the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States. That year, the BMA spent close to $3 million to acquire work by 49 women artists, including works by Betye Saar, Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, Cherokee artist Kay WalkingStick, and a monumental map painting by Salish artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, who had her first New York retrospective at the Whitney Museum this past summer. In January 2023 the BMA appointed Asma Naeem as its new director. She is the first woman of color to lead the institution.

Featured image: Clara Peeters “A Still life of Lilies”, Roses, Iris, Pansies, Columbine, Love-in-a-Mist, Larkspur, and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Table Top, Flanked by a Rose and Carnation, 1610

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Phill Hopkins’s Impressionistic Landscapes Transform Painting Into a Form of Poetry

Originally from Bristol and currently based in Leeds, England, British artist Phill Hopkins (b. 1961) works across drawing, photography, and sculpture, but maintains a practice primarily focused on painting. As a child, Hopkins struggled in many classes in school but excelled in art—possibly attributable to his diagnosis of dyslexia. The artist has stated that, “The marks in my work are perhaps a kind of poetry or prose. My marks need to be precise, my best ‘handwriting’ and not slapdash. As I am dyslexic, these marks, more than English, feel like my first language. I’m literate in this tongue.”

Hailing from a working-class family, Hopkins initially took up work at a warehouse and subsequently a bakery. He was eventually accepted by Goldsmiths College of Art in London, where he received his B.F.A in 1985. Since then, he has had more than two dozen solo exhibitions across the United Kingdom and has been included in group exhibitions internationally. His work is in private collections around the world and may be found in the collections of the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; and Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, among others.

Featured image: Phill Hopkins, Bardsey Island I (2022). Courtesy of Kadip Gallery, London.

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Here Are Three Things You Might Not Know About Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’

Katsushika Hokusai’s Japanese woodblock print colloquially known as “The Great Wave” stands as one of the most famous and widely reproduced images in the world. The famed composition crops up on everything from mugs and notebooks, to scarves and umbrellas, and even appears on the emoji keyboard.

Created roughly between 1830 and 1832 during the Japanese Edo period, this print depicts three boats encountering a rogue wave of gigantic proportions, with Mount Fuji in the distant background. The work’s official title is Kanagawa oki nami ura, or Under the Wave off Kangawa, and it is the first print of the series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji”. It falls within the style and tradition of ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese decorative art comprised of woodblock prints and paintings that frequently depict everyday people (often of lower social strata, like actors and courtesans) as well as landscapes, flora, and fauna.

Perspectives that float somewhere above the subject matter, flat planes of color, and precise and clear rendering are all common trademarks of the genre and remain identifiable as a distinctly historic Japanese aesthetic.

Featured image: Printing-block (woodblock). Outline block (omohan) cut for a modern fascimile (2017) reproduction of Under the Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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A New Exhibition Explores How a Medieval Printmaker Transformed the Artist’s Copyright

A new exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art in Wisconsin will showcase how a Medieval goldsmith working at the advent of European printmaking raised questions about copyright and branding that still resonate today.

“Art of Enterprise: Israhel van Meckenem’s 15th-Century Print Workshop” explores the life and impact of Israhel van Meckenem, whose prolific work during the latter half of the 15th century shaped print production in Northern Europe. Besides producing a vast quantity of Old Master prints, he would also engrave his own compositions, which depicted everyday German life with an intricate hand. The show will feature more than 60 objects, including his engravings of contemporaneous artists such as Master ES and Albrecht Dürer.

“Israhel is a particularly compelling early European printmaker from a present-day perspective,” said curator James R. Wehn. “He does some things early on in the history of European print that make him special.”

Featured image: Israhel van Meckenem, Head of a Man Wearing a Turban (date unknown). Photo courtesy of Albertina Museum via Chazen Museum

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The Getty Digitizes a Rare 16th-Century Manuscript from Indigenous Mexico

In 1577, Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún finished a monumental encyclopedia of Mesoamerican culture. Working in collaboration with Nahua writers, artists, and elders, Sahagún documented life in the Aztec empire around the time of the Spanish conquest, together creating nearly 2,500 illustrations and 12 books recording the daily practices and culture of 16th-century Mexico. The text is widely regarded as one of the most important resources of Indigenous knowledge, especially considering most history is derived from colonial perspectives.

The Getty Research Institute recently released a digitized version of La Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España, which is best known as the Florentine Codex—this name comes from the text’s mysterious storage in the Medici family libraries for centuries. Although the Library of Congres and UNESCO’s Memory of the World have offered scanned iterations of the books since 2012 and 2015, respectively, this edition is the most widely accessible because of its searchable interface and additional context.

Featured image: “Metztli icualoca: lunar eclipse,” Book 7, Folio 7r, Artist N

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The uppercrust on display in “Wave Pattern”

Contributed by Jacob Patrick Brooks / The lofts of downtown New York occupy a special place in American art history. They functioned most importantly as incubators for Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, eventually giving way to the galleries of the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the spaces once occupied by Barbara Gladstone, Pat Hearn, and Willem de Kooning have been replaced with Uniqlo, Nike, and expansive apartments for the super wealthy. In “Wave Pattern,” a downtown apartment show on the sixth floor of an unassuming Broadway building, art world scions Dylan Brant and Max Werner provide some relief from this cluttered, big-box nightmare.

What sets the show apart from other DIY efforts is the glimpse it provides into the imaginations of collectors. We see the results of the twentieth century’s worst behavior in the living space of the rich, rather than work heavily influenced by that behavior in the living room of a Bushwick hipster. You walk in and are greeted by a large Schnabel in an ornate gold frame. To its immediate left are two more prints of his. On your right, there’s a David Salle painting, on the wall to your left a Keith Haring drawing. Turn the corner and you’re greeted by a Cady Noland. It’s truly a star-studded show, so I don’t care that the Kippenberger next to the Schnabel (effectively containing him at the entrance) is under a beam with no direct light. I also don’t care that when I turn the corner the guestbook is brighter than the Charline von Heyl to its right. Seeing the work seems less important than knowing that the person who made it is important. Why else would it be in a room this nice?

Featured image: Moira Dryer, Untitled, 1991

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Scientists Are Turning Toxic River Waste Into Paint Pigments

A common side effect of the mining industry, iron oxide runoff has been impacting Ohio’s waterways for generations. Now, a group of artists and scientists in the state are removing this contaminant from a section of Sunday Creek and using it as an ingredient in paint pigment — and a new documentary short shares their inspiring story.

“In Southeast Ohio, acid mine drainage is a common pollutant in our streams,” said Guy Riefler, professor and chair of Civil Engineering at Ohio University, in the documentary Toxic Art (2023), directed by Jason Whalen. “You can still run into children who, you tell them to draw a stream, and they reach for an orange crayon.”

This colorfully demonstrates something that is generally known about extractive mining practices like acid mine drainage (AMD) — that its impact on the environment is significant and lasting. Working in tandem with Riefler, artist and environmentalist John Sabraw and a group of volunteers and students have developed a process that converts iron oxide waste into pigment for oil paints.

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Walking in the Dark

Why do people roam? What is the aftermath of perpetual movement? These are the questions asked by Robyn Ward (b. 1982), an artist born in Ireland and raised in Northern Ireland. He left Dublin at four years old, moving to Belfast where he lived until his late teenage years. He says: “From 18 to 25 I don’t think I spent more than seven or eight months in a row in one city. That, combined with never really being settled in Belfast, resulting in me leading quite a nomadic lifestyle.” Today, as a painter and sculptor, Ward expresses these personal experiences – of movement, change and being uprooted – through his art. He tells this story using wet, loose brush strokes with distinctive markings, revealing intimate moments from his past whilst simultaneously obscuring or hiding others. “Each layer depicts a different fragment of time,” Ward comments. “Often they are screenshots of parts of my life.” It’s an approach that has seen Ward exhibit in Mexico City, New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong, amongst others.

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Otherworldly Lifeforms Weightlessly Float Through Yellena James’ Vibrant Ecosystems

Rendered in vivid shades of blue, pink, and orange, Yellena James’ unearthly organisms populate environments brimming with life. The Portland-based artist (previously) uses a mix of acrylic paints, gouaches, and inks to create precisely patterned compositions that take an otherworldly approach to creatures found on land and sea. Buoyant forms evocative of coral, kelp, and flowers overlap and collide on the canvas, adding density and texture to the majestic ecosystems.

Featured image: Courtesy of Chefas Projects

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