Some of my favourite artworks of the present century are the marvellous collages created by the Belgian artist Sammy Slabbinck (featured image for Showtime and Living the High Life). Using found images from magazines dating from the 1950’s to the 1970’s that he collects from flea markets, Slabbinck skilfully re-combines the elements to create wryly humorous, slyly subversive and sometimes unsettling, subtly horrifying works.
Citing influences from Pop Art, Dada and Surrealism, in particular fellow Belgian Surrealist giant Rene Magritte (The Object of the Eye, The Human Condition, Pleasure), Slabbinck’s frequently colour-saturated collages play with size and scale: magnified parts of female bodies form part of a landscape which tiny men journey towards or galaxies are contained within cereal bowls which the perfect 60’s mother and daughter is sitting down at the breakfast table to consume. The resultant images are startlingly lush with a trippiness that achieves the defamiliarisation that is the aim of all Surrealist art.
Following my recent post and interview with the exciting Australian artist Anna Di Mezza, I am delighted to share Anna’s wonderful new painting Evolution.
Like all art worthy of the name, Evolution raises more questions and possible interpretations then it is prepared to answer. The following analogies are my subjective opinion alone, which Anna (thankfully) wishes to neither confirm or deny.
In the blanched, washed out afternoon light, three wavering, ghostly young women are in the process of a mysterious dissolution; of being rubbed out, literally erased from the picture. The source of the irradiating unreality is a rip (a tear in the space-time continuum?) in the centre of the composition which is half filled with a column of paint and has almost obscured completely one figure, the remaining lower part of her body is elongated and distorted. The two figures to the right are blurring proportionally to their nearest to the tear.
To deepen the mystery further the only spot of bold colour to be seen is the red in the corner of the cut-off doorway. At first glance the ball (or apple) seems to be floating but upon closer examination appears to actually be in place of a head. At the bottom left of the painting an oddly shaped shadow that apparently belongs to a figure outside of the frame can be seen. The relationship between the main group of three figures, the red ball in the doorway and the shadow is ambiguous and unresolved.
Although it appears to me that Evolution presents a scene of disappearance, the title contradicts this interpretation and suggests that actually the figures are evolving into being. Whether it represents a coming into being or an after-image of an hallucination , Evolution is a vivid snapshot from the kind of nightmare you have while falling to sleep watching a late night movie.
The intriguing work of Australian artist Anna Di Mezza achieves a synthesis of disparate styles and techniques that requires a double take from the viewer. Collages of found images from vintage magazines are taken out of their original context and then rendered in a meretricious photo-realist manner using a largely mono-chromatic colour palette, with, as Anna notes ‘occasional pops of colour.’
Di Mezza stages strange tableau of suspended narratives. Gigantic women recline or roam across mountain ranges; people emerge from bar-codes; sets of well coiffured ladies gather around mysterious crystals or point excitedly to a lone astronaut while on the moon. Di Mezza’s paintings suggest stories that fascinate while ultimately eluding explanation.
Di Mezza cites influences as diverse as the Surrealists, especially Magritte and De Chirico, Pop Art, filmmakers David Lynch, Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick and the classic fifties TV series The Twilight Zone. While her art clearly references her influences Di Mezza skilfully creates her own unique otherworldly vision.