Comprehensible Craftspeople: Five Great Modern Artists You Can Enjoy
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
Art requires that the artist and the viewer communicate in a language that both can understand. Many of the world’s artists operated under this paradigm for thousands of years, which enabled the common person to understand even the loftiest works. Then modern art arrived allowing artists to communicate in whatever language they chose. While this allowed great freedom of expression, it rendered a lot of work inaccessible to the average art lover. Fortunately, enough craftspeople are still willing to use their work to communicate in comprehensible terms.
James Christensen is easily the most commercial artist mentioned here, with books, prints, bronzes and replicas available on Amazon. Snobs may thumb their noses at his “selling out” but no artist I know would not lust after similar success. Christensen is able to communicate his vision to a wide audience and work at what he loves to do full-time. For those who eschew such inexpensive mass production, the artist sells many originals on his website.
The appeal of his creations lie in the fine and realistic detail that he imbues subjects from a world outside of our own. In Fishwalker, a colorful squire takes his green pet fish out on a walk using a leash. In Once Upon a Time, a human storyteller relates tales of our world to a rapt audience of fairies, ogres and dwarves. And in Three Blind Mice, the humanlike rodents try to make sense of a blue pet beetle.
Don’t be alarmed by the cramped quarters of the goldfish on the right. It cannot move within its 3.3-inch square sake case because it is not alive. Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori created this masterpiece in resin by pouring each layer and then painting on it.
The first exhibit of his work in the west appeared in the ICN Galley in London, England, from December 2011 to January 2012. The artist is also skilled with traditional two-dimensional painting as shown near the end of the video.
You can see more of his fine work at his website, which Google translates from Japanese into English.
There are industrial versions with great practicality and no personality, movie and TV examples that entertain and threaten, and plastic toy ones that amuse with their movement. But the robots I liked that best are the humanoid versions from the 1940s and 50s, designed with Art Deco futurism and solidly built of steel and other metals. These were always friendly and content to be machines that were helpful to humans.
Lawrence Northey evokes that era with his creations of brass, aluminum, copper and glass. Most are less than three feet tall though they are not always confined to human representations. Since most of them do not move, they are more properly called sculpture and must depend on the artist’s considerable skill to project emotion through the use of lifeless metals. Many are available for sale on his website. He also does commissions.
UK artist Slinkachu deals with the world of the very small. His people come from HO-scale railroad modeling. This represents a proportion of 1/87, which makes each figure just under an inch high. The tiny size of his work demands a macro lens for photography, with the examples on the right showing them slightly larger than actual size.
His creations comment on the impersonal and gritty nature of urban life by forcing passersby to stop and squint for viewing. Those who do are rewarded with social commentary disguised as a bit of whimsy. He does leave his works to become part of the environment. Their temporary nature only adds to their value. You can find more information about him at his website.
Art is supposed to be permanent – a legacy that can be enjoyed through several generations. So why would any artist in their right mind use sand as a medium, given that it is easily blown away into impermanence? Check out what Kseniya Simonova does with sand and you’ll have your answer. Born on the Crimean peninsula, this hipster was discourage form pursuing her dream by parents concerned that she should have a practical and successful life. She pleased both herself and her family by pursuing studies in both the fine arts and psychology.
Encouraged by her husband, a theater director, she developed a theatrical skill with sand, which she used to stun the crowd in the TV show Ukraine’s Got Talent. On the right, you’ll find her eight-minute piece about war, which brought the audience to tears. She won the competition and is now a worldwide celebrity. You can view more of her work by clicking the front page of her website.