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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Figural Landscapes

Wassernixe (Mermaid), by digital artist, Hans Peter Kolb
There are landscape painters, and then there are figure painters. Occasionally a figure painter may fill in some empty space on his or her canvas with some semblance of a natural background. And, on rare occasions, landscape painters may populate their paintings with painstakingly painted people. But in general the two seldom meet. Today I came upon three Postmodern artists, Carl Warner, Jose Roosevelt, and Hans Peter Kolb, who have not only caused these two genres to meet, but have quite skillfully caused them to merge.
Cut Throat Valley, Carl Warner
One of the hallmarks of Postmodern paintings is innovation or "newness." In the olden days we called it originality. In Postmodern painting influences from artists of the past are either avoided, or highly subdued, in an effort to achieve a new purity of essence. If you're puzzled by the title, "Figural Landscapes," I'm using it here, perhaps even coining the label, to designate a landscape skillfully combined with a figure, or in some instances, more vice-versa. Artists have other names for such work. Carl Warner calls his figural landscapes "Bodyscapes." Jose Roosevelt calls his "Nature Figures." Hans Peter Kolb titled one of his digital works, "Human Nature," which seems as good a label as mine or any of the others. It's an indication of their Postmodern "newness" that no one has managed to suggest a label that sticks.
The work of Jose Roosevelt at times displays the surreal
influence of his idol, Salvador Dali.
Brazilian painter, Jose Roosevelt
Jose Roosevelt is a native of Brazil, born in 1958. He held his first exhibition in Brasilia when only twenty years old. Even then his compositions were full of dream-like symbolic im-ages. In 1988, he had the opportunity to show his paintings and drawings in Europe. Two years later, he set up his studio in Lausanne, Switzerland. Since then, he has shown his art in Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium, Denmark and the United States. He has also illustrated classic books such as Alice in Wonderland, while also writing and illustrating graphic novels, and Tarot cards.

Carl Warner uses a mix of geographical and human terms to title his desert-like digital images.

Digital artist Carl Warner.
Carl Warner is a British photographer bas-ed in London. He turns human bodies, the folds of the skin and muscles, into real landscapes. Some are abstract portraits playing on the sense of space, offering a different view on human anatomy and our relationship to the human body. Carl War-ner challenges how we view the human body. His work is comprised of body parts organized in such a way that they re-semble massive landscapes foreground-ed against a neutral, tinted sky. Step a few feet away from your computer screen and you may feel like you are looking out at some Martian landscape. A very inter-esting perspective to consider the next time you think about (or look at) the hu-man form. Stumbling across something truly original is not easy in an era when most things having to do with art have already been done or thought of before. Warner's work has sometimes been compared to that of Giuseppe Arcimboldo who painted portraits of people made out of food back in the 16th-Century. It would seem Warner's applying the same process to landscapes is a progression of that idea.
Kolb's digital images often seem to take on the
form of monumental sculpture.
H.P. Kolb was born in 1957 in Heddesheim near Heidelberg, Germany. From the age of 14 he learned how to handle brushes and oil paints. However, Kolb first trained as a chemist before switching to media design in 1979. During this time Kolb worked independently as a traditional illustrator. Then in 1992, he began experimenting with digital images. Some six years later Kolb undertook training as a 3D designer. In the early days of digital imaging, Kolb developed a new interest: The digital airbrush. He was fascinated by the fact that all ideas and painting techniques can be implemented using a computer in much the same way as with an airbrush. In addition, the computer offered the possibility to greatly enlarge the images on the monitor, thus making it even more photorealistic and detailed. To this day, he has developed this technique into a perfection with which he occupies a special position in modern art. Even more astonishing is the fact that due to a birth defect, Kolb has no 3-dimensional vision. Because of this his spatial imaginative skills are above average. Power, reality, and visions speak from his pictures in his own distinctive style.

German digital artist, Hans Peter Kolb.

Three very different artists, each with their own distinctive style--one a painter, one a photographer, another a graphic designer. Two work digitally--yet each has latched onto a new, Postmodern combination of two, heretofore, largely incompatible genres. Yes, there are historical antecedents and influences from the past, yet they only serve to underline the fact that Postmodernism embraces rather than eschews the past so long as it is combined with genuine innovation to engender the requisite "newness" that Postmodernism demands.
Magic Mountain, Hans Peter Kolb


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