I have spent the better part of a day pouring over the clever maps of Andrew DeGraff, and simultaneously reliving some pivotal moments of my childhood. DeGraff has created works of art that track the paths of characters through the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films. Beyond their cleverness and beauty, the real magic of these maps is that they follow something deeper and more meaningful than just actors in a film; they bounce around to all the emotions I felt as a kid watching those movies. I can feel my hands clench as something daring and exciting happens, and I’d say that speaks highly to both the movie and the artwork. Here’s a film saga that was so real to me as a child that it still resonates with me on an emotional level when I relive it. And here’s a map that’s so accurate and intuitive that I can’t help but relive each scene of my favorite films. Andrew DeGraff, I am high-fiving you so hard right now.
Winter is a time of secrets. It’s a time when the foggy mornings, the cold, crisp air, and the creeping darkness freeze the tongue before it can speak. The world retreats back into itself to sleep a long, silent sleep, and it takes you with it into the night. The fires in the still-beating core die to a warm glow, and we’re happy in our new quietude. Settai Komura paints these soft sounds and the world in which they slowly echo, wearing the mantle of Winter melancholy, unmoving but changing all the time. These are the paintings I tell my secrets to as I keep warm in the dusky haze of a flame, and in return they whisper to me their sad stories of forgotten Spring.
Given a choice between tranquility and chaos, I’d have to say I prefer chaos. Looking out over a perfectly calm, glass-like lake in the still of the dawn, I am just as captivated as most people, but after about 30 minutes of quiet reflection I want to cannonball into that lake and shout my head off in guttural animal cries. Tranquility has no where to go; it’s already achieved the ground state. And what’s interesting about that? I even find myself arguing in favor of things I don’t support or have no opinion on as an exercise in chaos. The storm of ideas and tricky thought it conjures in my brain, and the loud, passionate discussions it causes in my conversational partners are my rewards. Artist Anton Vill embraces that same noise, fighting the calm, white blankness of paper with as much visual information as possible. His work is the ripples spreading away from our bodies as they disappear into the lake, and the howls that shake the sky to let the world know that we’re alive somewhere. Each drawing beautifully encapsulates the organized chaos that comes with being a living, breathing, animal — all the fear and desire tearing us apart little by little. Entropy claims first our bodies, and then our spirits.
On days like today, when it’s cold and rainy outside, I like to surround myself with things that are soft around the edges. If I didn’t have to come to the office, I would be at home, swaddled in blankets, watching cartoons with a chubby dog snoring across my legs, slowly cutting off my circulation. With that not being an option, I instead have to find those soft edges elsewhere, like in the work of Adam Tan. Don’t mistake soft edges for soft, however. His subjects aren’t necessarily soft, just his style. Soft shapes, soft colors, a modern illustration style topped off with a touch of Impressionism. Like a jangly, lo-fi pop ballad about having your heart broken. The edges are soft, and so is the delivery, but the subject matter is a sharp shot right in the feelings. Perfect for a rainy day to keep me calm but alert — heart beat steady, but mind on fire.
I am, without exaggeration, one of the greatest supporters of hyperrealism in the whole galaxy for all time. I might even be understating that. So Kevin Peterson was pretty much guaranteed to have my eyes submit to his wishes like puppies looking at a plate of bacon as soon as they saw his work. But then he also paints that wonderful hodgepodge of tags, stickers, burners and pieces that make up the visual turmoil of cityscapes, a subject that makes my skin tingle. Kevin Peterson, it’s some next level OK Cupid matchup that I have with your work. We were meant to be together, me and your paintings. I’ll take it slow, maybe a couple of online dates, then a visit to meet them in person in a gallery somewhere, and eventually I’ll ask one to move in with me. It’s kind of a polyamory relationship, so I hope your work is cool with that. It can be confusing at times, and we get pretty cramped for wall space, but we make it work. I don’t want to jump the gun and pressure a painting into moving too fast though. It’s cool, baby, let’s just go get some dim sum and let the future worry about itself.