Every month Beautiful Bizarre Magazine chooses one of our favourite artists to TAKE OVER social media for the day. For August, we chose Jonathan Viner to share with us the artists who have inspired him through his artistic career. Just in case you missed it, below we present the full TAKE OVER.
Jonathan Viner // What have I been up to? After 20 years in NYC it was finally time to move on. I left last summer with my wife and three kids in search of a permanent location where we can comfortably expand. We chose to settle in Rhode Island, not far from RISD, my art school alma mater.
Today we rent a house with my painting studio set up in the basement. For the past several months, I’ve been researching and designing the plans for a permanent home and studio, which I hope to start building in October on a nearby country lot. That’s when the fun will really begin!
(Our land has a run down cottage on it. I can’t decide if I should tear it down or turning it into a prestigious artists’ residency program. ?)
“Cult Classic” (oil on linen, 60×72 inches) is one of my favourite and largest paintings. If the cult girl in the painting stood up, she’d be around eight or nine feet tall. I love, love, love painting large, but very large paintings can be much more difficult to sell. Risk is something an artist has to work with. No pain, no gain. This painting is part of an ongoing cult theme that I plan to revisit in the years ahead.
I found myself agonising over which artists are my favourites since my feelings about art change daily if not hourly. But for this takeover I’m going to select seven established, contemporary artists who rev my engine at the moment. For me it’s not just about the image, it’s about the whole career. It’s the presentation, resonance, monumental scale, and staggering level of productivity that interest me. These artists inspire me to run back to my studio and take things up a notch, and to keep at it year after year.
David Hockney // (b. 1937): English, living in LA too. The most famous of the bunch. His work, especially from the 70’s and 80’s, is quintessential “LA”. Crisp and bright paintings. Pastel colours, swimming pools, modern environments. I love the looseness and lightness of the drawings of his friends. He’s still painting at 82. I feel I have so much to learn from him.
Neil Welliver // (1929-2005): American, Maine. Another more recent discovery for me. I love when his tangled and frenetic flora and fauna are refracted, and reflected by the rippling water of a pond or stream. Wow, that sentence is a mouthful. Occasionally he’ll paint a female nude or a canoe interrupting the natural cacophony. I find those to be a pleasing balance. Nature’s chaos and humanity’s order.
Alex Katz // b. 1927): American, NYC. I only recently started to warm up to him. I appreciate when I start liking something I didn’t initially like. He uses grand scale, bold colour, flat shapes, iconic stylisation, and rhythmic repetition to great effect. His distilled portraits straddle the fence between superficiality and elegance. I might change my mind tomorrow, but today I dig.
Tom Sachs // (b. 1966): American, NYC. This guy’s stuff is just really fun and cool. His earlier work included a very clever luxury branded guillotine. I love his boombox contraptions (which I saw a couple years ago in the Brooklyn Museum’s “Boombox Retrospective”) and his very handmade looking NASA replicas. He has elevated Home Depot chic to the highest echelon of taste.
David Altmejd // (b. 1974): Canadian, living in NYC. He’s the baby of the bunch. He has created a rich and unique visual vocabulary for himself. He produces colourful, captivating sculptures that blend beauty and the grotesque. Mind blowing work.
Neo Rauch // (b. 1960): German. He paints in a language of impenetrable surrealism. Historic looking figures seem torn from old illustrated story books and collaged into compositions interlaced with strange doodles. I have no idea what they’re about, but they are visually intriguing, and the scale of some of his paintings makes them all the more striking.
(b. 1962): American, NYC. Her paintings appear to be influenced by retro soft core porn. The exaggerated, pendulous voluptuousness and saturated, otherworldly colours are, to me at least, irresistible eye candy. It’s also reminiscent of sci-fi/fantasy/pulp book cover art from the 70’s, which makes me smile for some reason. Like most successful contemporary figuration, her work is protected by a shield of irony.
This was the last piece chosen by Jonathan for his TAKE OVER. Thank you again Jonathan, we really appreciate you taking the time to put this day together.