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Lorna Simpson’s Lovely Ladies

August 17th, 2010 · No Comments

I saw these mesmerizing ink and water drawings by Lorna Simpson on design*sponge. Aren’t they gorgeous? These are not your average portraits… They’re psychedelic ‘hair portraits:’ only the hair provides a glimpse into the lives of these voguish, seductive women.

I think loose watercolor (or in this case ink and water) portraits are really freakin’ cool. Storm Tharp and Manfred Naescher are two other great examples. The medium provides so much room for emotion and interpretation and these artists really take advantage of that.


Storm Tharp’s Watery Portraits @ PDX

June 10th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Storm Tharp (whose work I saw on art splash) has a show this month, Hercules, at Portland’s PDX and is also in the 2010 Whitney Biennial. In many ways Tharp’s work reminds me of that of Berlin artist/illustrator, Manfred Naescher. Both artists create watery, enigmatic portraits that reference iconic films of the 1970’s.


This particular choice of material (gouaches, inks and water) results in a finished product that is never fully designed by the artist. Herein lies the beauty of this work: the tension between the artist’s hand in the work and the unrestrained marks left by the water. It adds a wonderful element of ambiguity that leaves the viewer wondering which elements were central in the artist’s vision.



Media Mash-up: Manfred Naescher’s Film-inspired Watercolors

February 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

I’m thrilled to present the work and interview of Berlin designer, Manfred Naescher. Manfred is originally from Liechtenstein and attended art school at Emily Carr and RISD before settling in Berlin. He has a host of amazing personal projects, including the zines below: The Endless Summer, Fighting and Conte de Printemps, inspired by the eponymous films. What I admire most about Manfred’s work is that his watercolors are peppered with modern themes such as ambiguity, ugliness, rage and joy, all while depicted in such a traditional medium. Naescher’s zines are available here. Contact the artist for inquiries about originals.

How did you get into art? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist/illustrator?

I started art school at the ripe age of 29. Before that I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life because I had a serious interest in many things, like music, writing, linguistics, literature, comics… So I took a lot of time to acquire an odd variety of skills and knowlegde, without mastering anything really, except how not to enter a traditional career path. I was a radio and TV show host in Liechtenstein, worked at a newspaper, played in bands…

I did draw a lot as a child, and I never really stopped drawing, so in that respect I got into art in a somewhat conventional way. I made multi-page comics and wrote stories as a preteen in the 80s that I stapled together (zines, really, but I didn’t know that then). I made posters, flyers and other kinds of design for punk bands as a teenager and in my twenties. I later was a university newspaper cartoonist, and, to make a long story short, that job lead me to the Emily Carr Institue of Art and Design (now Emily Carr University), from which I graduated as a designer. I also did an exchange semester at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Your zines are inspired by movie stills. Why movies? Are you a film buff?

I’m interested in film as a visual language and as a vehicle for storytelling, and some filmmakers have simply created evocative imagery that I’m drawn to, or situations or moments that speak to me. If I’d be forced to decide on a favorite art form, it would probably have to be film. My film knowledge is pretty fragmented, so I’m certainly not a well-rounded film buff, if I’m one at all.

I do have some favorite directors, periods and genres, but preferences are always shifting, and I don’t want to fetishize films, I just want to be engaged and inspired by them. Having said that, current favorites would be early French New Wave films (especially Truffaut), Film Noir, Hitchcock, Lang, Jacques Tourneur, Vittorio de Seta (not to be confused with Vittorio de Sica, who’s also great!), Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Eric Rohmer, just kind of the regular cinephile canon, mostly films from around 1920 to around 1960. As for new films, I totally enjoy big popcorn movies like “2012” on their own terms, or films by Gus van Sant or the Coen Brothers, and I thought “My Winnipeg” by Guy Maddin was one of the best films of the past few years. I’ve recently discovered the work of Owen Land, and particularly his film “Dialogues” (2007-9) made an impression on me. I also like the social aspect of watching movies together. I’ve run film clubs in the past, and right now I run a private bi-weekly film club that only shows french noirs, mostly from the 50s. (more…)