It is little wonder that interpretations of the figure have been and continue to be so admired. After all, the figure is perhaps the most archaic and explored of all styles of art. Yet, even today, our cultural mastery of the figure can be redefined, reinvested, and reinvigorated by emerging artists. In the works exhibited at Like the Spice during Marked, six artists use the figure to reflect personal narratives of their own design.
The body contains history, living stories written in time. Every moment leaves its mark; every mark takes its moment. What comes from this is a mix of independent narratives, or perhaps a collection of fictions built from facts. The use of the figure, such a traditional idea, opens the door for many untraditional explorations. Instead of what is, our artists have chosen to paint what they think we should see, and in so doing opened our eyes to a new type of story; one we might never have been able to find alone.
In a perfect example of this guiding hand, Alison Bickle exaggerates her figures and forms, ending up in a fantasy self, walking through a world filled with a sense of freedom. Alison's narrative occurs as she builds from emotion, instead of any real being. In this way, Alison captures moments full of the feelings she chooses to portray, rather than the truthful persona from which she, or we, could be escaping.
The figures of Dean Goelz are a merger of sculpture, painting and illustration, anti-humanoid humanoids that slip into frame from the corner of the eye. A mix of trial and transformation, Dean's figures are incarnations from another place, emerging as though alluded to, and not so much occupying our space as visiting it, like a tourist who plans to return home. Dean's pieces are steeped in their own mythology, but still are clear and familiar to anyone ever cast as the outsider.
Brendan Lott takes a different route, acting as the omniscient narrator to the story he defines. Brendan picks his images from shared online folders and sends them to China, where painters redefine the events these strangers have lived. Freed from clear context, the paintings are now behind a smokescreen, forcing us to confront our own collection of youthful mistakes. In the vacancy he offers, we are allowed to find our own reasons, and invent our own paths.
Jenny Morgan also offers a path within her pieces, as the deeper story of her work's creation reflects the progression of intentional entropy. The layers of Jenny's work collect to form history: a base of red, the scars of early sanding, final touches of light or finish. In this way she tears to the center of her subjects, creating deep colors that lock the memory of strong emotions into the canvas, and speaking as to the inside of our bodies.
The watercolors of Reuben Negron show their subjects in the erotic candor generally left to the imagination. But hidden within the layers of watercolor is the shared intimacy that comes from a relationship, and the scenes play out as both strange and familiar at the same time. His choice to work in watercolor means that each layer of the piece must dry before he can continue, and so it is clear to see how the work has happened over time. We are left to follow like a traveler.
The work of Robin Williams glosses nostalgic. Her portraits invoke a darkness that somehow keeps all its color, like the bright and curious monsters of childhood or the warning patterns on a poisonous plant. Those figures inhabiting her world are calm and know no other life, but the story of their world leaves us astonished, unnerved and intrigued.