Using the precisioned techniques of Old Master painters and sculptors, Savant presents the works of 7 artists that derisively confront the contemporary art world with some of the most bizarre images a twisted mind can conjure. Highly trained in media ranging from oil paint to resin, each artist has gone through the motions to fully understand the rules of artistic mastery, so that they now know how best to break them. Hailing from Canada, the Czech Republic, Norway, and the United Kingdom, Savant showcases these artists together for the first time, revealing what has been coined as ‘New Gothic Art’ in its prime. Extremely subversive, often offensive, 'idiotic' art has been, until now, lightly trodden territory, particularly in the politically-correct western world. Curated by artist Joe Becker, Savant’s subject matter lives up to its word, promising to make your eyes pus and your jaw drop off completely.
Joe Becker is a Toronto-based artist and graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design. Becker’s classical approach to image making, developed in his final year, expresses a love for outmoded techniques and aesthetics, with an emphasis on the craftsmanship of the old masters in palette and in the richness of imagery. The dreamy ambiguity of the weary figures is fused with both his bizarre sense of humor and childhood memories, and create the core of his playful yet twisted universe. Becker has exhibited his work in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Leipzig, Madrid, Dusseldorf, London, and Toronto.
Admittedly, Rory Dean’s philosophy is somewhat akin to a pregnant teenager on Maury Povich announcing: "You don't know me. I do what I want!" Although that is not entirely reflective of his artistic goals, it is a point of view that informs Dean’s everyday practice in regard to making paintings. Dean makes what he wants and worries about what it means when it’s finished. Influenced by 17th Century Dutch painting, Northern Renaissance artists and a plethora of cult-socialist documentaries, Dean’s own work appropriates art historical and reference material to combine a (mostly) anachronistic series of images.
The paintings of Peggy Kouroumalos can be read as open-ended narratives of no real time or place; they speak of the past, in a timeless space of foggy childhood memories and dreams, and reside in pastoral landscapes of familiar, yet strange unexplored myths, allegories and fairytales. Kouroumalos incorporates a collage-style approach to fuse her love of Old Master Dutch, Flemish and French rococo paintings and fairytale illustrations, in order to create her own painted world where themes of transformation, animal/human relationships and the play on darkness and light abound.
After experimenting with many different modes of painting, and various media, the use of traditional Old Master techniques became the most interesting for Derek Mainella. In order to avoid certain trends and what Mainella sees as rhetorical similitude from many artists, he sheds the use of irony in favor of the production of truthful, sensual pictures. The head-on view is the most typical of these paintings, leaving nothing to the imagination in terms of subject but most transparent in re-uniting old-school painting to contemporary problems. Mainella was born in Toronto Canada, he still lives and works in Toronto, even though it severely handicaps you as an artist.
Working initially as a painter, Richard Stipl has recently turned to making sculpture. Considered an exceptional talent in technical terms, Stipl stands apart from his contemporaries through his uncanny ability to breathe a vital and invigorating “life force” into his art works, regardless of media. Richard Stipl is included in many important public and private collections worldwide.
As a painter and sculptor, Erik Tidemann tries to invoke a rebellious tumult against the ways we perceive human ideology and standards for aesthetics. The everlasting search for the new, taking on different shapes and ideologies that comes its way. The power of our childhood fantasies and our earliest interpretations of reality still living inside of our minds, but now taking on new shapes and manifestations as they go. Social identities inspired by a generation that was brought up with the rise of cable TV, VHS, computer games and violent cartoons in Europe. There is a sympathy for everything that is not known to us, what is looked upon as lowlife and non-intellectual, everything dirty and strange that has been cast aside. When you give dead animals a new life and a new shape, there is also a spiritual sympathy for the loss of the life that was, a shamanistic love for what is no more, an intense longing to see it again in a new context, to understand it.
James Unsworth grew up in Liverpool with two older brothers who fed him on a diet of Thrash Metal, Clive Barker, Stephen King and Video Nasties. This culture stirred in the artist a curiosity about the extremes of the human condition and eventually drew him to London to study fine art at The Royal College of Art. Unsworth’s scenes are populated by hyper-unreal depictions of murder, sex and dismemberment, comic/horrific figures engaged in acts of disembowelment, degradation and desecration while piles of body parts are splattered with simulated bodily fluids and are gradually engulfed by smoke. Unsworth’s drawings, prints and movies are at once horrific and humorous. Bodily and bawdy, they embody the true spirit of grotesque.
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