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Valentin Zenkovsky ‘And Art Goes On!’

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A.P. Chekhov, oil on canvas, 45 x 84 cm, 2014

Biography

Valentin Zenkovsky was born in Moscow in 1952. Since childhood he loved to draw. Till he was 14, he drew some primal teenage stuff. But at 14, Valentin got involved with yoga and started drawing human bodies in various poses. It was a big deal. He started studying human anatomy and drew people, while they were engaged in yoga. He gave them his sketches. They were his first grateful and thrilled audience. It was so inspiring for him!

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Out of high school, Valentin entered Moscow Steel and Alloy Institute to study the automation of iron and steel industry. Each summer during 5 years of education students had professional practice at the ironworks factories in metallurgical cities of Soviet Union. Valentin was impressed, really fascinated by sorcery of metallurgical alchemy and by steelworkers themselves. He’s never seen anything like this in his life! It was the real strong impression for 17 – 20 year old young man. That is when he started using colours. The sense of colour was born in him. He got the feeling of strength of hue. After having worked his shift in a shop floor, Valentin used to take privacy somewhere and pour out his fresh impressions on canvas.

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At the end of each practice, Valentin normally launched exhibitions of his paintings in the factory headquarters and in dorms, where students lived. Besides industrial themes, there were many portraits too. Normally, Valentin gave all pictures away. They may be still are hanging somewhere even today. Anyway, it was his first recognition as a painter.

In those years Valentin attended some art studios to improve his painting skills. He attended, for example, the art school under the direction of the famed artist of the USSR Alexander Ivanovich Laktionov not long before his death in 1972.

The next significant step was the institute theatre studio, led by actor Leonid Melamud. Valentin painted the scenery and the designed costumes and from time to time played roles as an actor. In particular, they put on the play based on the poem named ’12’ by Alexander Blok. That was when the first controversy with the Soviet censorship arose. The case was related to the last poem’s words “Jesus Christ”. For the Soviet secularism, it was inappropriate to say such words on theatrical stage. They were offered to replace the words ‘Jesus Christ’ by ‘the revolutionary sailor’ (in Russian those words are rhymed). Furthermore, Valentin was told to paint over the cupolas of the church (on the scenery canvas) the scene with Lenin on the armoured truck. Our theatre group fought back. So Valentin’s civil position began to be formed.

After graduation, their theatre group existed for another 5 years. In 1977 because of the administrative pressure (no place to play performances) the group broke up.

Valentin entered the post-graduate studies. In 1982 he received his PhD and started teaching in the institute. Meanwhile he kept painting, but couldn’t exhibit. To make an exhibition, one had to be the member of the Union of artists of the USSR. To become a member of the Union of artists of the USSR, one should have several exhibitions. This vicious circle was broken by the Gorbachov’s Perestroyka. The political wind of changes opened the doors of freedom. At least it seemed to us so.

In 1986 Valentin joined the artistic association named ‘Jakimanka’ and his exhibition activities started. He exhibited, for example, at the Moscow Youth Palace, twice a year at Spring and Autumn at the Gorkom Graficov Na Maloj Gruzinskoj 28, at The Manege, at the Central House of Artists at Krymsky Val, at the Moscow House of Artist at Kuznetsky Most, etc. Besides, there were the open air places for painters to show and sell their paintings: the Bitza, the Izmailovsky Park, the Arbat. He regrets that it was not possible for him to get into the Sotheby’s auction, held in Moscow in 1988.

In the late 1980s the private galleries began to appear in Moscow. So, the gallery Best was showing and selling his paintings in Berlin for 3 years (16 shows and more than 200 paintings were sold). This gallery was located in the high-rise building near the White House (the Parliament building). In autumn 1993 during the armed assault of the White House, the gallery Best was evacuated and then it was liquidated. But Valentin was already known as a painter and his exhibition and selling activities continued. For example, with the gallery Spanish Quarter for 5 years he had a lot of successful exhibitions in Europe.

In 1990’s Valentin started to search for new expressive means, new painting technique and new forms of exhibitions. He and his friends were trying to combine paintings on canvases with a theatrical performance. The script was written on grounds of paintings along with the music and the poetry. So, the art group was formed (named ‘Step’). They worked really hard up to 2000. This period was very fruitful in creative context. Valentin learned how strongly (at least for him) is an impact of playing a musical instrument on a picturesque inspiration. Since then he started to play piano everyday to awake his creative forces as a painter.

Nowadays for almost 20 years Valentin works with the company ‘Art of Future’ on the international project ‘Art Week in the World’. Annually, he used to participate in 3-4 exhibitions all over the world. Also he cooperates with Non-Profit Trust of Assistance to National Culture and Art Development. He is an establisher of ‘Russian Gallery – XXI Century’. He is a member of the International Art Foundation.

In 35 years Valentin sold more than 2000 paintings and participated in more than 300 exhibitions all over the world.

Meanwhile, until 2012 he continued to work as an associate professor at the Computer Science Department of the Moscow Metallurgical Institute. He wrote and published 8 manuals on programming (Visual Basic 6, Visual Basic.NET) and computer graphics (Poser. Anime Studio Pro, Cinema 4D, Vue). He also took part in scientific researches having more than 20 published articles in scientific journals and 3 patents.

Valentin is married and has the son and daughter. Both his children graduated from Moscow State University.

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The personal online exhibition ‘And Art Goes On!’ of paintings by Valentin Zenkovsky (the new gallery artist) is held on the gallery website from the 2nd to 31st May 2020. Visit the exhibition at http://www.hayhill.com/docs/zenkovsky.html

DAVID MICHAEL BOWERS ‘Inner Observations’

Blond's Have More Fun, 38 x 34, oil on linen, 2011

Artist’s Statement

Human nature does not change! Our emotions, desires, hopes, and dreams are the same as our forefather’s. Throughout history, individuals have always been controlled by invisible strings that shape their reactions. People and places change, but human reactions to events are largely predictable. Collective human reactions then form a culture, which dictates acceptable patterns of behaviour. I have studied people’s reactions to these patterns of behaviour and the institutions that enforce them. I find that they range from docile acceptance to open rebellion. Most people create a mask of respectability that other members of society see. These masks might fool outside viewers and may even fool the individuals who create them. If you rip off the masks, the primal passions that control humans emerge from the deep recesses of our psyche. The desire for wealth, power, and sexual gratification has been with humans since the beginning. The complex relations between men and women have been with us in every culture and society. During the last half century; women have made great strides for equality in every field of endeavour. However, there will always be an underlying sexual tension between men and women.

My paintings reflect my observations of humanity and the never ending trials and tribulations we subject ourselves to. They are a tribute to the artists who went before me. In each age, these men and women have acted as observers and chroniclers of the human condition. As their work inspired me, I can only hope that my paintings will act as a guidepost to those who follow.

Animal Instinct-24 x 40- oil on linen- 2012

BIOGRAPHY

David Bowers, born 1956 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from art school in Pittsburgh 1979. He began working as a staff artist at various studios in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Two years later, David began teaching his craft at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he lectured for ten years and was honoured as the Keynote Speaker for the Class of 2003.

In 1991, David began his illustration career working mostly with book publishers in New York City in which he completed over one hundred book covers in the span of over ten years. Also, David’s work graced the cover of numerous prominent magazines, including TIME. He also painted the portrait of J. P. Morgan for the cover of Cigar Aficionado , as well as the family portrait of the Rothschild family and the Chateau Latour Winery for the covers of Wine Spectator magazines. These paintings are now part of the publishing company’s permanent collection at their corporate headquarters in NYC.

Bowers’s illustrations received numerous awards including three Joseph Morgan Henniger Awards, “Best of Show” from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles along with two Patrick Nagel awards. These awards recognized David with the best, published illustration of the year. Also, David received nine other medals recognizing his work from that organization. David also received numerous medals and Merit awards from the Society of Illustrators in New York, Spectrum and Communications Arts Magazine.

As David transitioned into Fine Art, his work continues to be recognized by various organizations including the “Best of Show” from the American Society of Traditional  Artists in 2014 and Best of Show from the International Guild of Realism, the “Jack Buncher Award” from the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2013, the “Best of Show” in 2011, “The Best Tromp L’oeil” in 2010 and “Pioneer in Realism” award in 2009 from the International Guild of Realism. David was recognized by The Art Renewal Center with the “Chairman’s Choice Award” in 2013 along with the “Staff Award” in 2011 and in 2009 recognized as a “Living Master.” David’s painting titled, “Made In America” received the 1st place award from The Portrait Society of America in 2011 & 2014. Bowers was a semi-finalist for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition in 2009, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

Bowers has had exhibitions across America and Europe, including the Mendenhall Gallery in Pasadena, CA, Gallerie 224 in Laguna Beach, CA, Klaudia Marr Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 101 Exhibit in Miami, FL and Los Angeles, CA. Gallery Brusen in Denmark, Halcyon Gallery in London, England, Marcel Salome Gallery in The Netherlands and Germany, the Butler Institute of American Art, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and is currently being represented by Palm Avenue Fine Art in Sarasota, FL, Gallery 126 in Denver,CO and The Winfield Gallery in Carmel, CA.

Upon first glance, Bowers’ works seems to take you back to periods of painting long gone. This is due to Bowers method of painting, which is reminiscent of the Old Masters, specifically the 17th Century Dutch. David has studied the masters for many years to develop his techniques, which involves multiple layers of paint called glazing and alla prima. The technique might be old, but his paintings incorporate modern themes and current symbolism, which he describes as “realism with an edge.”

Bowers’ paintings are in many private collections throughout the United States and Europe as well as The Museum of American Illustration in New York and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

The Three Graces 24 x 22 oil on linen 2009

The personal online exhibition ‘Inner Observations’ of paintings by David Michael Bowers is held on the gallery website from the 2nd to 30th April 2020. Visit the exhibition at http://www.hayhill.com/docs/bowers.html

 

Dangerous Minds Artists

Dangerous Minds - Fine Art StudioObserve

Dangerous Minds Bio

Danderous Minds Artists Portrait

Michael Lake-McMillan (b.1958 England) Living and working in London

Alan David Stuart (b.1967 Ireland) Living and working in London

Education: Classically trained at the coal face of creativity, the Artists education stems from the professional demiurgic world.

A natural inclination to artistic expression has led to careers in model making, movie props, graphic and web design, fashion photography, animatronics, theatrical makeup, scenic painting, set design and many points in between.

In 2014 the Artist’s took the plunge into the heady maelstrom of the Art World with the cry of ‘I’ve got your back! With too many ideas and an explicit need to create it was the only option for these two. With a near obsessional passion for technique, substrate and finish the duo have created an immaculate and diverse collection of works.

Following a very successful first studio solo show in their 5,000sq studio at Elephant and Castle the pair have go on to host several very well received solo shows, a myriad of group shows and charity auctions.

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http://dangerousminds.co.uk/author/alan-stuart-dm/
DANGEROUS MINDS INTRO
February 5, 2017 by Alan Stuart

So, here we are writing our first blog!

Very excited and pleased to welcome you to our blog…

After a lot of deliberation, we finally agreed on what our first blog is going to be about. We thought we would take you on a journey- the journey we have been through as Dangerous Minds Artists, the highs and lows, oh my god and wow moments….and show you what art really means to us. So, come on in and make yourself comfortable…and get ready to get inspired.

Our story began way back in 2014 when two maverick creatives decided to work together, attracted by our mutual admiration of each other’s work from which we developed a strangely productive team, based on the peculiar ways that our minds worked and the overlap of our mutual fascinations… antiquity, absurdity and the generally darker side of life…

Prior to our involuntary symbiotic collusion, we both had vast experience in all aspects of the creation of outlandish and bizarre props and installations… But Dangerous Minds Artists per se began as a reaction to, and inspiration from, the crucible of super high end event design and fabrication, and having a burning desire to create much more permanent work.

The memories are still very vivid of our first studio in Elephant and Castle… an amazing opportunity to create havoc in 5000 square feet of Zone One prime real estate… and the debut show in June 2015. Visitors had the opportunity to risk life and limb whilst coming to see a body of work that one prestigious reviewer said…”should be bought outright and kept together for posterity”…! OMG, KIN-ELL insert whatever expletive works…

With that endorsement still ringing in our ears, we found ourselves under the Damoclean sword of robber barons and developers… the dreaded bow wave of ‘Gentrification’, enveloping us and the rest of the ‘diamond geezer’ creatives, theatricals etc. in our cosy little enclave…

No sooner had Dangerous Minds found their feet, than we immediately set about wearing out our boots in the search for a new home…!

By a stroke of incredible good fortune we found a farm house in Brentwood, yes the home of TOWIE…! Fortunately the shiny orange people are scared of mud so don’t venture out this far… which means that we can carry on working in splendid isolation… with wild fallow deer and rabbits for company in what many fantasise as ‘Darling Buds Of May’, bucolic bliss. The reality can be slightly different however… water freezing in the print studio, fly tipping in the drive and three miles to the nearest shop… which is hardly worth going to.

But never the less, the absence of metropolitan distractions means that we can really get down to smashing out new work, testing new techniques and investigating ideas that would be just about impossible in the newly sanitized and utterly unaffordable London.

The pressing schedule for our Saatchi show, precludes further ramblings and reminiscences… but as it says on the show invite… FURTHER COMMUNICATION INEVITABLE!

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The personal online exhibition ‘Present From The Past’ of works by Dangerous Minds Artists is held on the gallery website from 1st to 31st March 2020. Visit the exhibition at http://www.hayhill.com/docs/dangerous_minds.html

Pejman Ebadi

ebadi4

https://www.saatchiart.com/pejman
1982, Tehran, Iran. Living in France since 1984. Currently residing in Nice, Riviera, where I have a studio. Spend half the year in the Far-East. Painting is a life long passion for me. I had a painting brush in my hand before I could read or write. Painting is the most natural way for me to express myself; it is something very much innate in me. I don’t need to be in a special mood or state of mind to be inspired, in order to create. I have lacked a lot of things but have never had to look for inspiration. I don’t even know really what it means to be inspired; whenever I feel like it, and that is quite often, I just get up and got to the studio to work. The feeling of sterility is something unknown to me. Creating art works is the closest thing I have to be in my natural state. Painting transposes me immediately to a world of great intimacy, familiarity; it is like returning to my element, a kind of returning home. My paintings are an incessant exploration of my subconscious and all things mysterious and unknown to me within and without. Painting allows me to fathom the depths of my psyche, it is also a place of healing for me, but it is also here that I come close to a meditative state; by this I mean a state of total absorption, where I am totally integrated with the process unfolding before me. Creating in this sense means revealing and encountering the essence of my own being, my being and in a larger sense, all beings. I never know beforehand what I am going to paint. There are no plans. It’s in a spontaneous movement that I project myself onto the canvas without prior visualization. It’s the sheer force of the blank surface that captivates and captures me. As the work progresses forms and colours begin to take shape as if slowly emerging from a primordial chaos. Slowly compositions and forms begin to unfold; it’s the force of the unknown, the energy flow of the subconscious that manifesting itself through the creative act guides me through the work. It’s as if, mesmerized by the invisible, its echoes guide my steps. Here we are talking of something very different to an installation; it’s rather an un-installation. I don’t oppose the visceral element to the cerebral one, its just that in my work it’s the irruption of the former that gives the impetus to the elaboration of the later; there is sure a thinking process involved in the act of creating but it not one born out of conceptual reasoning and ideations. It’s always difficult for me to express my paintings through words; for me creating comes closer to something that I would describe as a shamanistic voyage. Words fail to capture the essence of the world of spirits. The same as with my painting; its language belongs to another world, rather, to the other world; the world of the unknown and the unseen. In a deeper sense, I paint to liberate my soul.

Pejman Ebadi

The personal online exhibition ‘Stargates To Eternity’ of paintings by Pejman Ebadi is held on the gallery website from 1st to 31st January 2020. Visit the exhibition at http://www.hayhill.com/docs/ebadi.html

What Good Are Art Dealers and Gallery Owners?

https://www.artbusiness.com/dealer.html
Alan Bamberger

Nobody likes art dealers or galleries. Artists don’t like them because they keep half the price of every piece of art they sell. People who buy art don’t like them because they charge top dollar. Even dealers don’t like dealers, but that’s another article. So do art gallery owners and dealers do anything other than inject themselves into art business transactions, jack prices, take cuts, and extract cash? Let’s explore.

The artist’s point of view:

“I’m an artist,” you say. “I spend my life making art, slaving away, compelled to express myself for all the world to see and experience. The results of my creative endeavors zap practically every last ounce of my strength; so here I am surrounded by the products of my inspirations and ready to make money. But no. Something stands in my way and its name is art dealer. I don’t need you and your gallery to take half of every dollar my life’s calling entitles me to. I’m going to sell my own art, thank you. I’ll sell it on Instagram, from my website, and out of my studio, and I’ll keep 100% of every sale I make.”

Of course you don’t need them. Just like galleries, you’ve got the perfect space to show your art, position and display it for maximum impact, and make it look its absolute best, right? It’s a great location, convenient, with plenty of foot traffic and parking, and it’s near other retail establishments where people who to buy art tend to congregate, dine out, entertain themselves or shop for goods and services. Your space is austere, expansive, well appointed, professionally designed and lit, and when you show your art there it looks about as good as it’s ever going to look, outside of maybe The Louvre.

Just like galleries, you have an established reputation among gallery owners, collectors, curators, critics, and other art world professionals. People respect your experience, judgment, knowledge, and ability to recognize quality in art. You receive regular invitations to art-related functions and social events where you come into contact with collectors, professionals, and others with standing and influence in the art community.

Just like galleries, you have a significant online following, not just lookers but buyers, and not just buyers but repeat regular buyers. You know how to engage with anyone who contacts you, and can organize, speak about, write about, and present your art in ways collectors and other buyers can appreciate. You have no problem posting about your art and creating compelling narratives around it that people will appreciate. You can speak about your art in the context of the bigger picture, and about what makes it significant and worth owning.

Just like galleries, you’re comfortable around people who buy art; you’re well connected, you socialize with collectors, and participate in activities and belong to groups and organizations that collectors belong to. You understand how art buyers think, how much they know about art, and how to talk to them about art in language they can understand and identify with. You are an interpreter capable of taking art that may involve complex cognitive concepts, raw emotion or sensitive subject matters, and presenting it in ways that make it accessible to those who might otherwise shy away. You can also make it appealing to people in terms of the benefits of ownership.

Just like galleries, you’re at ease talking about art and money; you know how to price your art sensibly and within the context of its market, and can explain your prices to anyone who asks in ways they can understand and appreciate. You can convince them that they’re spending their money wisely. You can sense when someone is on the verge of purchase, ready to buy, and you know exactly what to say and when to say it in order to close the deal and complete the sale. As for the plethora of parasites, blabbermouths, energy drains, poseurs, time wasters, know it alls, and deadbeats who endlessly hover around the art scene– you can see them coming and blow them off with ease.

Just like gallery owners, you are capable of evaluating all kinds of art by all kinds of artists all the time. You continually talk about art, interact with artists, study and learn about art, read about art, assess what qualities make particular works of art good or better or best, figure out what pieces to show and how to effectively arrange and display them. You carefully examine, analyze and assess every detail of every piece of your art before it leaves your studio just like gallery owners do with every piece of art they show at their galleries. You make continual art-to-art and artist-to-artist comparisons in your interactions with potential buyers, and use your extensive knowledge and overview of the local, regional, national, international or whatever art realms or markets you travel in to assure them that your art not only satisfies your high personal standards, but is also worth their attention. Not only can you defend your art to critics and detractors, but you can also discuss its merits ways that win them over and advance your career.

Just like galleries, you believe in your art to such an extent that you spend thousands or tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars per month in rent, overhead, advertising, hosting events, art fair participation, and appearing at other public functions to show that your vision is a valid one. That vision attracts a range of contacts and fans from throughout the art community, and energizes them to such an extent that they reward you financially– with profit– allowing you to continue to put forth what you believe to be among the most worthwhile works of art being produced today. Art critics, museum and institutional curators, influential collectors, and others in positions of power in the art world talk, write, gossip, and otherwise opine on your art in every way imaginable because you know how to keep it in the ongoing conversation. People who trash talk, hate, sabotage, or otherwise badmouth your work don’t bother you because you know how to counter them and how to prevail against anyone who tries to take you down.

Art galleries and dealers have nothing on you, do they now?

“So OK,” you concede. “Maybe they do perform a service and deserve commissions for what they sell… like say fifteen percent.”

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The collector’s point of view:

“I buy art all the time and none of it comes from dealers,” you say. “I don’t waste my hard-earned cash contributing to some gallery’s extravagances. Screw those oversized, high-ceilinged, space-wasting progressions of near empty rooms in expensive parts of town. I can find all the art I want online anyway. I know what I like, where to find it, what to pay, and I don’t need any art dealer to tell me any different.”

Of course you don’t. Just like galleries, you live and breathe art. You spend eight, ten, twelve hours a day involved in art-related activities. You constantly monitor relevant art websites and subscribe to every trade publication that has anything to do with the art you buy, sell, or collect. In order to stay on top of the market, you continually see museum shows, stay on top of the latest news, read books and catalogues and trade publications, and regularly speak with dealers, collectors and other trade professionals about the art and artists you specialize in.

Just like galleries, you’ve looked at all kinds of art by all kinds of artists for years and years– decades in fact– and have seen tens of thousands of pieces, perhaps hundreds of thousands, perhaps more. As a result, you’ve cultivated and refined your eye not only to the point where you can spot quality, but also potential shortcomings or problems. You can make fine-line distinctions about art as well as any art business professional out there. You’ve discussed, inspected, dissected, critiqued, and evaluated at least thousands of works of art with people in the know and can accurately assess the significance of whatever it is you’re looking at.

Just like galleries, you understand the art business from retail, wholesale, and secondary market perspectives; you follow plenty of galleries and auction houses, not only locally, but nationally and internationally as well. You know who’s showing what, and why, and how much they’re selling it for. You can spot quality art at fair prices, and know the difference between a genuine bargain and third-rate crap, not to mention fakes, forgeries, scams and cons. When you see art you like, you know what questions to ask, what to look for, and how to inspect and evaluate its every detail. You know how to research and evaluate prices, and know what makes art worthy of the attention it gets, the prices it sells for, and publicity it gets.

Just like galleries, you can spot an artist with talent and potential before just about anyone else; you know when art breaks new ground. You know the difference between a leader and a follower, between “here today; gone tomorrow” and “here to stay.” Your knowledge goes well beyond what the art looks like or who signed it. You know how to evaluate its materials and structural integrity, and are able to tell from a variety of standpoints how it’ll hold up over time. You can look at dozens or even hundreds of works of art by any given artist, separate the best from the rest, and focus only on those that represent the true range of the artist’s skills and abilities.

“Exactly,” you say. “Gallery junkies are a bunch of suckers, shelling out fat cash on art I can buy for a song on eBay. Just last week, I nailed a Jackson Pollock splatter painting that the seller recently discovered in the back room of a pawnshop, stored there since the sixties. I stole it for a measly seventeen grand right out from under the noses of eBay’s 200 million users. As soon as I get it authenticated, it’ll be worth a fortune.”

http://www.hayhill.com/press/alan_bamberger.html

Robert Bissell ‘This Universe of Life’

Artist Statement

Mono No Aware

The environment and humans relationship to it has always been a fundamental aspect of my work and in recent years I have found myself reacting even more to the vast changes our natural world is experiencing. Looking back over the work displayed here I am aware that a narrative was being created as I painted. Beginning with Inspiration (the first painting I did in this series), the figure looks up with wonder at the waterfall, a source of creativity and imagination. In Supernova, our protagonist pays homage to the universal forces that sustain us. In The Race our elephants rejoice and play in the elements that support them and In Mono No Aware, the figure contemplates a gentle falling snow by a frozen lake as it’s inhabitants swim below. How more perfect can this world be that surpasses anything humans can create? In The Mountain, our figure faces a seemingly great challenge with an overwhelming oncoming tide and in Meeting on The Ice we are presented with an enigmatic scene as we imagine polar bears travelling south in search of new habitats. Finally, the fragility of animal and human existence is presented boldly in Titan as this majestic black rhino challenges us to contemplate our own influence over the natural world.

Robert Bissell

Animals are good for thinking
Philosopher Claude Levi-Strauss

From the Invitation to Robert Bissell Exhibition in October 2019 at Chloe Gallery, San Francisco, USA

Meeting On The Ice

Robert Bissell is a painter of naturalism and fantasy, combined and influenced by Romanticism. While his works touch upon wonderment, they offer a convincing view into a world without ‘civilization,’ wherein the viewer is mesmerized by the power of light and the essence of natural law – yet tinged by fancy. This genre of art is sometimes called Magical Realism.

Early tribal cultures believed the natural world to be the bridge connecting earth and spirit. Animals were regarded as powerful spiritual beings that could connect humans to unseen realms, the environment, and each other. Along these lines, Robert Bissell creates works that transport us into a completely different atmosphere than that of modern daily life, inviting us to learn more about ourselves and to contemplate our origins in the natural world.

In his animal paintings, the world of animals is a mirror for human existence, self-definition, and self-reflection. Yet, these aren’t mere children’s tales. “Bissell’s work disarms by narrating vitally grown-up and urgent allegories in the guise of child-like humor,” counters William Zimmer, art critic for The New York Times. 

Bissell’s paintings explore the idea that animals have metaphysical importance to our own spiritual well-being. Lured into a realm absent of humans, Bissell’s animal characters ask that we consider our own condition and place in nature. While whimsical at first glance, there is underlying tension and precariousness beneath the images. Disarmed, we objectively consider ourselves without familiar references. 

“His animal work is full of charged meaning and lore, and it’s touched by surrealism”, says Suzanne Bellah, Director of the Carnegie Art Museum. “Influenced by the surreal legacy of Magritte, he mixes scales and uses gigantism with a variety of textures and subtle color palettes.” Indeed, Bissell keys his palette to the great landscape masters of European art Claude Lorrain and Corot (France) and Thomas Gainsborough (England).

Imaginary Realist Robert Bissell creates a completely different atmosphere from our daily experience, inviting us to learn more about ourselves. In his paintings the world of animals is a mirror for human existence, self-definition and reflection.  These are not mere children’s tales – quite the contrary.  Bissell’s work causes us to reflect on the environment, life, death, renewal and the stages of transition – departing from the safety of family, and making our way in the world.

Bissell grew up on a farm in Somerset, England, where animals, Celtic legends and panoramic landscapes were part of his daily life. His keen interest in visuals began at an early age, documenting life around him through photographs. He would spend hours stalking wildlife on the moors close to his house to see how close he could get before they would sense his presence. But ultimately, country life was not for him and Bissell headed for the city to study art.

After earning his bachelor’s degree at the Manchester College of Arts and Technology, Bissell moved to London for post-graduate work in fine art photography at the Royal College of Art. 

After completing his studies, Bissell spent four years traveling the world, working on cruise ships to pay his way. In 1982, after settling in San Francisco, one of his favorite ports of call he began working for The Sharper Image as photographer of its high tech merchandise.  For the next decade he moved up the corporate ladder, during what is arguably the companies most exciting time, to become head of the creative and merchandising divisions. In 1992, he left the company to start his own retail catalog company in Portland, Oregon, which was eventually sold to Readers Digest.

In 1995 he began to wonder if the long-term implications of the industry he was engaged in really fit his world-view. The catalogs he was producing wasted a great deal of paper with very little return. Trees destroyed for paper, most of which was just thrown away. The corporate world had also taken its toll.  Bissell missed art.  He decided it was time to explore the possibilities of telling people about nature and his view of it though painting. He had studied drawing in college and believed that it was simply a matter of wanting it – and teaching himself to paint.

“I had forgotten why I wanted to be an artist in the first place,” he said. “I wanted to get that back, and I am glad I did before it was too late.”

Pagans and Celtic Christians believed the natural world was the bridge that connected earth and spirit, with animals acting as spiritual intermediaries. Now, most people live in cities and suburbs, separated from that world. “Animals used to be involved with humans as messengers with magical functions,” he says. “Now they are our slaves for consumption and entertainment. I wanted to restore their role and give them a new voice.”

Since then he has devoted all this time to painting. He regularly exhibits in museums and galleries across the United States and Europe. Bissell hopes his paintings appeal to the intellectual child in us, reminding us of the mythic and universal human values in the tradition of the great heroic-quest stories. His work encourages us to reflect on nature, the roads we travel, and the choices we make along the way. His story encourages us follow our passions and have the courage to do what is meaningful to us – whatever that might be.

The personal online exhibition ‘This Universe Of Life’ of paintings by Robert Bissell is held on the gallery website from 1st to 31st December 2019. Visit the exhibition at http://www.hayhill.com/docs/bissell.html

Roger Aslin ‘The City Revealed’

Artist Statement

3. GATEWAY ROGER ASLIN

My practice explores two key areas – the figure and the urban environment – and is influenced by my continuing interest in film and television.

My key focus now, through the medium of painting and photography, is how people interact with the contemporary environment. I show urban life in dramatic colour and shade by using a highly contrasting palette to additionally emphasise shape and form.

My historical reference is the Flaneur, a French term for an observer of city life. Edouard Manet was considered to be the quintessential Flaneur. His work ‘A Bar at the Folies Bergere, 1882′, together with works by Gustav Caillebotte, ‘Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877’ (Art Institute of Chicago) and ‘Le Pont de l’Europe 1876’,(Musee du Petit Palais, Geneva) are acknowledged examples from this period.

The Flaneur is the ultimate urban explorer, made the object of scholarly interest in the 20th century by Walter Benjamin, based on the work of Baudelaire. The Flaneur has become an important symbol for scholars, artists and writers, with Honore de Balzac describing flanerie as ‘the gastronomy of the eye’.

My work, as a modern day flaneur, takes me into the city where I take images on camera or phone, later to be refined and honed digitally in the studio before commencing painting on paper, board or canvas.

As Susan Sontag stated in ‘On Photography’ ‘The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker….cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flaneur finds the world ‘picturesque’.

My solo show ‘Urban Narratives’ at the Hay Hill Gallery, London, further developed these themes, showing many works from my urban series.

I also have a history of showing in various group exhibitions including the Royal Watercolour Society, the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize and the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. My work has also been shown in the corporate world including Baker Tilly and Clyde & Co.

During 2018 I was invited by the Adam Gallery, Bath to show a number of original works as one of their contemporary artists.

Roger Aslin

The personal online exhibition ‘The City Revealed’ of paintings by Roger Aslin is held on the gallery website from 1st to 30th November 2019. Visit the exhibition at http://www.hayhill.com/docs/aslin.html