Devendra Banhart has been amassing a body of great songs and albums for a while now. In tandem with his musical accomplishments Banhart has gained considerable recognition as a visual artist. His distinctive, minutely inked, often enigmatic drawings were presented alongside the work of the master Abstract painter Paul Klee at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in the show Abstract Rhythms: Paul Klee and Devendra Banhart. Devendra’s otherworldly drawings are populated by whimsical characters that seem suspended in an undefined pictorial space. His relationship to music, like Klee’s, is interdependent on his visual art practice.
In 2006, Banhart’s work was shown at Emilio Mazzoli Gallery D’Arte Contemporary in Modena in Italy and the Deitch Projects Exhibit at the Art Basel Festival in Miami. Devendra had his first solo exhibit at Andrew Roth Gallery in New York and his art has since been presented at San Francisco’s Jack Hanley Gallery, the Atelier Cardenas Bellanger in Paris, “Uncertain States of America” show at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art and NYC’s Daniel Reich and Canada galleries. Devendra’s drawings graced the covers of four of his full-length CD releases and one EP as well as his major label debut on Warner Brothers What Will We Be. Devendra’s art for What Will We Be was nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for Best Recording Package.
His work appears in “Live Through This, New York in the Year 2005,” published by Deitch Projects, New York as well as the “Vitamin D,” published by Phaidon. In 2011 Devendra’s art was featured in a MOCA exhibit “The Artist’s Museum” that included works of influential Los Angeles based artsist from the last 30 years. As part of the exhibit, Banhart collaborated with artist Doug Aitken and musicians Beck and Caetano Veloso for an incredible musical and visual performance piece.
The critics’ acclaim and the size of his audience both at home and abroad earned by his debut Oh Me Oh My The Way The Day Goes By The Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs Of The Christmas Spirit was impressive to begin with and increased dramatically with each subsequent release: 2004’s Rejoicing In The Hands, Nino Rojo, 2005’s Cripple Crow, and 2007′s Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.
From his beginnings painting large-scale graffiti on the streets of Sydney, Australia, Mark Whalen (Kill Pixie) has evolved into an artist whose meticulously crafted paintings and sculptures examine the human experience by exploring communication, emotion, sexuality, invention, interaction, and ritual – all with an undercurrent of quiet absurdity. The artist’s indomitable spirit of creativity and resistance fractures and realigns old divides between street and gallery, and reinterprets the universal human struggle for freedom and control in a world bent on self-destruction.
Since 2006, Whalen’s work has shown in a constant stream of sold-out gallery exhibitions in Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Australia. He was also included in 2009’s Apocalypse Wow! Exhibition at MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, Italy. His work has also appeared in publications such as Juxtapoz, Modart Europe, Arkitip, Art Ltd., Anthem, and Monster Children. In 2008, Whalen was awarded the Sydney Music, Arts & Culture Award for Best Visual Artist, and in 2009 he was named in the Top 100 Creative Catalysts by the Creative Sydney festival. He currently lives and paints in Los Angeles, California.
Melanie Pullen, born in New York in 1975, now lives and works in California.
In the gallery you are soon to view, Pullen presents an installation of Melanie Pullen’s photographic series Violent Times. Comprised of large-scale lightboxes and photographic prints, the exhibition explores the depiction of war beginning with the fantasy and glamour of historic painting, progressing toward the reality conveyed in modern photography. Pullen says, “In Violent Times, I dramatized the aesthetics of early portraiture and battle imagery, creating an extensive series that questions our perceptions and our ingrained desire to glamorize violence.” The historic use of imagery, style, and presentation has been modernized in Violent Times, with the use of saturated films, special lighting techniques, digital processes and modern printing methods. The effect is a highly stylized and cinematic representation of war that questions the accuracy and reliability of the mass media both current and historic.
Violent Times consists of two separate elements: the first and most complex is the elaborate set of life-size soldier portraits that span centuries. These portraits took over three years to create due to the great attention to detail in the costuming and production. They are Pullen’s modern version of the stiffly posed photographs of soldiers who fought in the civil war and paintings of soldiers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She cast over one-hundred male fashion models to pose for both the soldier portraits and the battle scenes. The use of models for painting battle scenes was employed for hundreds of years to glamorize war.
The second portion of the series is comprised of sixteen backlit life-size photographs portraying soldiers acting out their combat poses. These images individually emphasize the glorified figures and bring the stiffly posed soldiers to life, playing up the unimaginable drama that is war. The C-print portion of the series consists of twenty staged battle scenes. Pullen gathered tanks, helicopters, closed down streets in Los Angeles, and for one of the most important images in this portion of the series she worked for six months with the help of a major movie studio to build large sections of the city of Berlin. The post-production on these included several hundred hours of both painting the film by hand and digital manipulation to give them the illusion of timelessness.
Pullen’s earlier photographic series High Fashion Crimes Scenes, which she worked on for over ten years and exhibited internationally, consists of large-scale color photographs of recreated crime scene images in which she outfitted the “victims” in haute couture. Self-taught and raised in a family of photojournalists, publishers and artists, she began the present project after seeing a copy of Luc Sante’s 1992 book Evidence (1914-1919) about crime scene photos from the New York Police Department. Pullen herself has noted that she takes aim at society’s glamorization of violent acts and crimes by literally redressing what are deeply disturbing events. High Fashion Crime Scenes was published in late 2005 by Nazraeli Press and is available in bookstores worldwide.
Melanie Pullen has shot layouts for magazines including Flaunt and Rolling Stone. She has been profiled in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Beaux Arts, Artweek, ELLE, BorderCrossings, The Independent on Sunday Review, Flaunt and Vogue Japan. She was also profiled in May 2006 in Nylon Magazine and Book LA in a twelve-page feature.
Please check out her site at melaniepullen.com
You can purchase her book High Fashion Crime Scenes here
Breuning squirreled away popular culture references that he would later effectively employ in his pieces. He absorbed the music of Talking Heads, Eurythmics and Grace Jones; the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman; and the sculpture of Jeff Koons. He cites as influences everything from sci-fi to horror via Vikings and haunted houses. His photographs, installations, and films feature a recurring vocabulary; face-painting, eyeballs attached to inanimate objects, long cheap wigs, naked breasts or direct movie allusions.
Breuning’s most recent showcase was in March at the Whitney Biennale in New York. He took inspirations from one of the exhibition buildings, the 18th century Upper East Side Armory for an installation called The Army, thirty miniature metal soldiers with identical spherical bodies and different heads resemble sci-fi robots marching as to war. “I thought it would be funny to do something with the idea of military, especially because I knew I would be exhibiting in an old armory building, ” says Breuning. “I decided to make this army with the same bodies but different heads, which I thought was amusing because an army with different heads cannot function” (Wonderland Magazine, 2008).
In October 2008, Breuning had his third solo show at Metro Pictures Gallery, New York.
Have a look at Olaf’s work at his site olafbreuning.com
or his gallery at metropicturesgallery.com
. And for a bit more info on Olaf, take a look at his interview on artnet.com