Category Archives: Outsider Art

Alchemeyez: Visionary Art Conference

Alchemeyez: Robert Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Alex Grey, Luke BrownVisionary art might be loosely described as an attempt to express the inexpressible, to make manifest a visual statement of an inner mystical or visionary experience that is almost universally categorized as one that cannot be directly described in conventional terms.

Still the desire of artists to create some form of expression in response to such experiences is a strong one, and has produced some fascinating visual art, often astonishingly intricate, intensely colorful and suggestive of transcendent states of consciousness.

Whether that appeals to you or not is a matter of personal preference, of course, but the art itself is notable as a specific and unique genre; with many visual and compositional characteristics descended from tantric art, mandalas, thangkas and other sources of imagery from India, China, Japan and Indonesia.

Alchemeyez is a 3-day conference on the Big Island of Hawaii on June 10-13, 2010. Attendees include an extensive list of widely recognized names in visionary art circles, including several I’ve profiled previously on Lines and Colors: Robert Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Alex Grey and Android Jones.

Though there isn’t a great deal of art featured directly on the conference web site, the page that lists the participating artists features a representative piece by each artist, a short bio and, when available, a link to the artist’s web site, where you can find additional examples of their work.

(Images at left: Robert Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Alex Grey, Luke Brown)


Dan Hillier

Dan Hiller
Dan Hillier is a UK artist working in the tradition of Max Ernst’s Surrealist collage (see my post on A Week of Kindness, also here).

Using similar source material from reproductions of Victorian engravings, Hillier combines various images, and unlike Earnst, adds some pen and ink modifications of his own, to create disconcerting, horror-tinged images.

There is a gallery of his “altered engravings” on his site, along with pen and ink drawings and other works. Hiller also has a blog in which he posts about his most recent work, including the piece above, bottom, which is a still from an upcoming animation in collaboration with Tom Werber for an indie single by Losers.

An interesting aspect of Hillier’s work is showcased in a blog post about a number of people who have chosen Hillier’s images as subjects for tattoos.

[Via BoingBoing]

Cheeming Boey

Cheerming Boey
Cheeming Boey draws on styrofoam coffee cups with a sharpie pen.

Those of us who have a tendency to doodle on whatever surface is handy may not think that surprising, but the degree of skill and work that he puts into his unusual medium is outstanding.

His subjects range from cartoons to detailed stippled portraits to elaborate decorative drawings inspired by the style of Japanese prints.

The drawings use the entire circumference of the cop, connecting with themselves in a continuous band. The flicker set of his cup drawings features them set against a mirror and also often includes multiple views of the same cup.

There is a photo sequence of his process and a video as well.

Boey’s cups sell in galleries for $120 to $220 and are sometimes placed in plastic cases. There is an article on him on the OC Register.

You’ll often hear disparaging remarks about unorthodox art materials, particularly when they’re not “archival”. I dont’ know about the Sharpie ink, but Boey’s styrofoam “canvas”, as any eco-warrior will tell you, will last for a long long time.

Addendum: The Sharpie blog has an interview with Boey

[Via digg]

John Pugh

John Pugh
Trompe l’oeil, French for “trick the eye” is an illusionary art technique with a long history in Western art. The intention is to create an optical illusion, in that the viewer is given the impression that there is a three dimensional object or scene before them, not just a realistic image (see some of my posts relevant to trompe l’oeil, in particular my post on Eric Grohe).

California born artist John Pugh paints large scale trompe l’oeil images, usually on the sides of buildings, that reveal impossible, and often amusing, dimensions to an otherwise flat wall.

In his Mana Nalu (power of the wave) Mural Project (image above, top, large version here) in Hawaii, the flat side of a building appears to be deeply concave, and filed with an enormous cresting wave, in which we see a personification of Queen Lili’uokalani. Riding the wave is pioneering surfer Duke Kahanamoku, and standing at the foot of the wave, looking for all the world like real children walking on a ledge in front of the oncoming wall of water, are three painted children.

Pugh likes to give our sensibilities an extra tease at times by including a painted observer in his illusionary scene.

In his Siete Punto Uno in Los Gatos, California (image above, bottom, large version here), a red jacketed woman peers into an apparently earthquake caused break in the wall of a cafe, that reveals a hidden temple of the Mayan Jaguar God (the bringer of earthquakes in their mythology).

Pugh’s web site showcases his mural work, public and residential and corporate. It also includes a page of “mural mishap” accounts, in which the illusion of the murals has prompted amusing responses from people, such as patrons in a bar who break glasses trying to set them on trompe l’oeil “shelf”, or people who walk into walls trying to walk “into” his paintings, a la Road Runner cartoons.

In addition to his site, Pugh maintains a site for prints and mural posters that also has galleries of images.

[Via Daily Mail Online]

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU

MUTO by BLUI’m usually not a fan of the destructive ego stoking defacement of buildings that is grafitti, at least not until it gets sophisticated to the point of impromptu wall murals (and I’ll point out that the illusionistic sidewalk art I like is done in chalk and washes away); but defacement aside, I’ll make an exception for this.

MUTO is a frame by frame animation in which the “cells” are grafitti drawings on building walls, and the canvas is sections of the cities of Buenos Aires and Baden.

The artist, known only as BLU, has painted and repainted sections of wall with drawings that, photographed in sequence, make an animation.

If you can put up with the shakiness inherent in making a stop-motion animation with a hand-help camera, and the occasionally creepy tone of the story (such as it is, actually more of a stream-of-consciousness narrative), the interaction of the animations and the environments in, through, around and on which they play out, is fascinating and genuinely different.

[Via Digg, via SoulPancake]


S. Clay Wilson

S. Clay Wilson- The Checkered Demon
Taking a page from yesterday’s post about the first issue of Juxtapoz, which featured an article on Zap Comix 13, I wanted to make a hopefully timely post about underground comix artist S. Clay Wilson.

Wilson is a cartoonist and comics artist whose work is rude, crude and full of atti-tude to the point where words like “offensive, politically incorrect, objectionable, demeaning to women, violent, sexually explicit, not safe for work, over the top, graphic, intense, obscene, dangerous, bloody, and shocking” have always seemed a bit tame and inadequate to the descriptive task. Of course, that’s exactly why some people, myself included, hold it in high regard.

Wilson was a regular contributor to Robert Crumb’s ground breaking Zap Comix in the late 1960′s. His characters like the Checkered Demon, Ruby the Dyke, Star-Eyed Stella, and others whose very names were offensive, romped, gamboled, swilled Tree-Frog beer and fought and sliced their way across panoramas of unbelievable carnage, comically exaggerated sexual violence and dementedly bloodthirsty absurdity in the pages of the independently distributed counter cultural comix. (My favorite was the Checkered Demon “…nice day for somethin’…”)

Wilson himself rampaged slashing and burning through the conventions of decency where others only tiptoed, and opened eyes and minds to the examination of those conventions in the process.

Robert Crumb said the it was S. Clay Wilson who opened his eyes to the notion that absolutely nothing was off limits, and made way for unthought of possibilities of expression and the defiance of taboos.

In the process Wilson could be wildly, dementedly funny. If you weren’t the type to take offense to his deliberate offensiveness, and could see the absurdity underlying it, his very degree of excess, and the apparent glee with which his pen wallowed in it, were agonizingly hilarious.

Of course, in our uptight, politically correct, oh-so-ready-to-take-offense society people have actually been arrested for selling material containing his work. He is exactly the kind of cultural buccaneer that keeps thing shook up, something society desperately needs at times.

I can’t point you to a repository of Wilson’s work, I had trouble finding images I could show in polite company (image above via P.J. Donovan), but I’ll try to provide a few links.

There are some collections of his work, like The Art of S. Clay Wilson and Collected Checkered Demon and he has illustrated books of fairy tales (notably Grimm’s, couldn’t find a link) in his own inimitable style. You can also find his work in back issues of Zap Comix and other underground comix if you’re lucky enough to come across copies.

I mention that I hope this post it timely because Wilson recently suffered a grave injury, and as an independent outsider cartoonist, is in need of assistance to pay large medical bills. Some friends, family and supporters are putting on some benefits to help raise the needed funds.

S. Clay Wilson Noise Benefit, January 11, 2009 Hemlock Tavern in SanFrancisco, CA.

Mojo Lounge Benefit, January 24th, 2009 at Mojo Lounge in Fremont, CA.

There is also an address where donations can be sent directly:
P.O. Box 14854
San Francisco, CA 94114

There are columns in the Oregonian in which Steve Duin is covering the story.

[Via BoingBoing]

Note: links here, and all references to and material by S. Clay Wilson should be considered NSFW and not suitable for children; as well as not suitable for adults who take offense easily, Concerned Citizens for Decency, and all others not inclined to celebrate the destruction of the fabric of mainstream society.