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The Burning Plain

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments

The dark, dream-like paintings of Chilean artist Francisco Rodríguez caught my eye recently. His show The Burning Plain from 2018 at Cooke Latham Gallery is featured here.

In Rodríguez’s case, his imaginaire clings to the mind like heavy woolens and wet winter air. It consists of firmly outlined figures that populate darkened or gray-toned landscapes: men in shadows, packs of dogs with red eyes and crows that occupy the central space of a canvas. It also prominently features portraits of lean male characters, some with cigarettes dangling from thin lips, others sporting broad impudent grins or wide brimmed hats of the sort seen in period images of Chilean gauchos or in Pablo Picasso’s early bohemian pictures, especially his portraits of Carles Casagemas, the legendary artist suicide.

Rodríguez’s imagery, in fact, calls up an array of bohemian antecedents: the Pre-Raphaelites (especially Dante Gabriel Rossetti), Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters of louche entertainments, the aforementioned Picasso of the Blue and Rose periods (note Rodriguez’s use of diamond checkered patterns, reminiscent of the Spaniard’s saltimbanques), the Viennese Secession (particularly Egon Schiele) and, skipping forward almost a century, the stylized, mischievous and oneiric figures of artists as varied as Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Wojnarowicz and Marcel Dzama. What they all have in common with the young Chilean-born, London-based artist is simple: they each sought to dovetail a hardscrabble, insubordinate view of city life with what Charles Baudelaire famously urbanely called “a way of feeling.”

Rodríguez, though, invokes a dark difference. If his pictures are romantic, they convey emotion in a way that is freighted with oblique references to still other far-flung sources: among these are the 1980s manga comic Akira, Irvine Welsh’s gritty Glasgow novels, Pedro Almodovar’s Pepi, Lucy y Bom, the lyrics of The Clientele’s Losing Haringey and the general pall cast over the artist’s native country by several decades of dictatorship, as reflected, say, in the 2008 Chilean film Tony Manero. Then there’s the painter’s choice for the title of his first London gallery exhibition. Called “The Burning Plain,” Rodríguez’s title is a translation of El llano en llamas, Juan Rulfo’s celebrated short story collection. Fittingly, Rulfo’s stories consist entirely of interior monologues spoken by characters that wander bleak, crepuscular landscapes. Like the painter’s figures, they haunt rather than traipse the desolate roads they travel. – Christian Viveros-Fauné, 2018.

Jessica Bell

April 29th, 2019 · No Comments

Jessica Bell is a Canadian artist I began following many years back. She had two shows on Art Hound’s sister site, Buy Some Damn Art, but I hadn’t seen her work in a while. It turns out that in the last few years she has blossomed and is making art on a much larger, more ambitious scale. These images are all from her 2015 MFA thesis, All things being equal. She also has a very fun quilt series from 2018, Forty Days and Forty Nights (Making the bed)

This series is really about exploring canvas as a medium. I appreciate that it is both serious (her exploration of lines, shapes, composition, repetition, juxtaposing incongruent parts) and playful (in this series I see bean bags, flour sacks, drying laundry and printed textiles ready to be cut.) It’s exciting to see one of my favorite artists building off of an already impressive body of work, pushing boundaries and doing new things.

BSDA Artist Interview with Jem Magbanua

April 14th, 2016 · No Comments

Today we have a new show on Buy Some Damn Art of art made by Jem Magbanua who also participated in BSDA’s “Young Artists” show a few years back. Jem lives in Singapore where she also earned her BFA from LASALLE College of the Arts. Magbanua’s work explores ideas of the nature of place, of human beings in place, and of the organic and built structures that shape such being. She feels that the act of drawing allows her to reflect on these ideas, collapsing elements from the physical and imagined into one another.

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And here’s what Jem told us about her art:

Could you tell us about this series?

This body of work comes from two different series from 2014 and 2015.

The Interiors series stemmed out from my interest in domestic spaces as places of refuge. These drawings attempt to capture the various elements that give meaning to a space. It may be in the form of a row of potted plants that line a balcony or the familiar afternoon light that casts a shadow against one’s glass door.

The rest of the works (The Move, (Some) Fragments / I, (Some) Fragments / IV) were inspired by my trip to Kyoto, Japan in 2015. I was drawn to how nature is intrinsic to the Japanese’s everyday existence. Their architecture seamlessly weaves into the natural surroundings as if it, too, sprung from the ground. These drawings contemplate one’s contemporary relationship to landscape and attempt to find a grammar of visual impressions that enable one to understand it.


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Do the landscapes and houses in your work exist in a particular location? 

Yes, the landscape and interior spaces I paint are personal to me for each one is a place I have had the chance to experience, whether it be through simply walking past it or by living in it for a certain period of time. The experience of these spaces becomes intensified in memory when I translate them into drawings.


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How do photography and architecture figure into your work? 

My own practice has always probed and mimicked photographs, not life. I have always appropriated directly from images that move me to create. There’s nothing spectacular about the way I take photographs. I have amassed a collection of haphazardly shot digital photos from my various walks. Yet, however photographically mundane a landscape or interior may be, it has the potential to carry some sort of peculiar charm to it when drawn or painted.

My fascination with urban architecture arose in Singapore when I began to question what it is that influence our notions of “home” and how our cities affect the way we orient ourselves, both physically and in our minds.


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Do you also work as a commercial illustrator? 

Yes, I do. I’m one of the illustrators for a creative digital agency based in Copenhagen, called Spokespeople. At the same time, I do my own freelance illustration projects.


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 What are your favorite sources of inspiration? 

Growing-up in cities such as Singapore and the Philippines, two bustling megalopolises, deeply influence my work. I usually soak up most of my inspiration by simply meandering through these spaces. Additionally, reading through books on landscape architecture, gardens, writings on urban life, and poetry help me piece together new drawings.


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Artist Crush: Judith Sinnamon

July 30th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Judith Sinnamon’s show at Edwina Corlette Gallery is very pretty and refreshing (with a lot of soothing sage green). It is a nice take on the traditional genre of botanical art.



















January 16th, 2012 · 2 Comments

This week I’m going to the Alt Design Summit. Last year I learned my lesson. I never put the word out that I was going and missed some very cool people who were there too, totally unbeknownst to me. It’s funny how you can feel like you know someone pretty well from their blog yet have no idea what the hell they look like.

So friends, please drop me a line if you’ll be there too.

art hound is two!

August 28th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Blossom Flower by Rebeca Raney.


This month Art Hound turned two!

Looking back…

+ 568 posts  //  finding my voice along the way

+ Est. 1,971 hours of research online  //  discovering a community of immense creativity and mutual support

+ 301,984 page views  //  setting the course for a new career


Many, many thanks to my readers and supporters!