Steven Assael is a New York artist who paints and draws figurative works that feel simultaneously sharply focused and viscerally textured.
Assael also looks for texture of another sort, in the vivid personalities of his subjects, often drawn from the enthusiasts in the body art subculture and carrying their own secondary visual texture in the form of tattoos, interesting piercings and a bit of costume.
He also takes on more mundane subjects, but sets them off in thought provoking compositions, like his dreamily posed Bride I (above, with detail) in which the bride seems to float, as if buoyed by an invisible, curved body of water.
Asael works from life, eschewing photographic reference for the experience of painting from life, and the more direct and acute observation it affords.
His subjects can also be straightforward portrait or figure paintings in addition to his more formally arranged compositions, but there is always a feeling of a pause, a contemplative suspension of time, in his portrayals.
Of particular interest to me are his drawings, both life studies and portraits, with their subtle line, carefully observed tone and an ability to capture a feeling of the sitter’s character.
Asrael studied at Pratt Institute, including independent study in Europe on a Pratt Scholarship, and currently teaches at both Pratt and the School of Visual Art in New York.
There is currently a show of his work at the Forum Gallery in New York that runs until May 2, 2009.
There is a book of his drawings, a collection of paintings, and an earlier collection of both paintings and drawings; all out of print, I think, but sometimes available through Amazon and other book search services.
[Via Art Knowledge News]
Note: Some of the images in the sites linked below should be considered NSFW.