What’s Beyond The Edges.

Brian Tull 2

Born in 1975, Brian Tull’s only way to remember the 1930’s through 1950’s is through his imagination. Which must be vivid, and which he draws upon to create his enormous photo-realistic paintings and public art murals, each “strategically cropped…sometimes confrontational and often featuring the female figure as protagonist, giving you a subtle glimpse into the characters’ lives. Usually leaving you wondering what or who is beyond the edges.” Retro? Yes, and wonderfully so, but there’s more at work here than mere nostalgia. Check out more of the artist’s work at his site (if only to get a better feel for the size of the paintings): briantull.com.

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Tango Noir.

Jorge Botero Lujan 1

Just a dance? No, seems like much more. Intriguing paintings from Jorge Botero Lujan, artfully capturing the steamy embraces of dark ballroom romance.

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Dave Lebow

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Yes, they breed artists in Oklahoma too, where painter Dave Lebow was born, though his arts education occurred on the coasts, first in painting at Boston University and then earning his MFA in Experimental Animation at Cal Arts. For most of the first decade of the 2000’s, Lebow worked in animation, but returned to painting full time in 2009. Various sites refer to his style as ‘retro contemporary’, which doesn’t make sense at first, but in a way, is precisely what it is. On one hand, the work pays homage to the fantasy and adventure pulps of the 1930’s, but is reimagined through a contemporary 21stcentury vision. Similarly, his technique is fully traditional, often doing monotone greyscale grisaille underpaintings with oil glazes over those. A visit to the artist’s blog (link below) not only showcases more work, but preparatory sketches, model photos and much more. A lot of the work is epic fantasy oriented (with a wry contemporary twist, mind you), but I’ve collected several here that focus on more noir-ish settings and situations.

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http://davespaintingblog.blogspot.com

If Love Was A Red Dress

if love was a red dress

Still digging for more bio information on contemporary realist painter Anwen Keeling. Her stark, shadowy and neo-noirish paintings have me hooked, and a post with more will follow soon. But for now, here’s “If Love Was A Red Dress”, which is as perfect a title as I can imagine.

Girl With A Gun

armand seguso

The illustration is just called ‘Girl With Gun’, which kind of says it all.

It’s by Armand Seguso (1897 – 1984), Italian born, but grew up in the U.S. and used a talent for music to fund his art education in New York, playing violin in cabarets and movie pit orchestras. Seguso is actually best known as an MGM studio artist, responsible for some of the original and iconic Gone With The Wind poster illustrations. In fact, when Seguso’s grandson Rick Seguso, also an artist, heard that a soon-to-open “Scarlett O’Hara” Chicago restaurant was looking or an artist to paint murals based on the book and classic film, he campaigned for the job and painted three 7’ x 8’ murals, recreating his grandfather’s works. Gone With The Wind murals, that is…not girls with guns.

Gina Higgins’ American Noir

Kiss Me Deadly G Higgins

“American Noir”, the ongoing series of stunning large format paintings by California artist Gina Higgins, is aptly named. That they’re noir is apparent. But the way they evoke a time, place and ‘feeling’ of a sensual and dark slice of America may be their real power and beauty.

Can you tell I’ve become hooked?

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Gina Higgins may have been born in New Orleans, but she grew up in Los Angeles off Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. That Los Angeles-Hollywood vibe seems to permeate her work – from film culture to Sunset Boulevard to retro L.A. nightlife. Still a teenager, she took a break from her college education to study and draw abroad in France and Italy (basically like winning the lottery for an art student) then returned to complete her degree, graduating from the University of Southern California Roski School Of Fine Art.

Insomnia G Higgins

Early Higgins illustrations became sought after work for clients like Liz Claiborne, Etienne Aigner, MGM, CBS and others, and then in 2009 Higgins began her signature series of large format paintings (acrylics on canvas, if I’ve read the notes right on various sites) that became “American Noir’. Clearly a masterful figurative painter, Higgins doesn’t seem to be content with straightforward representational realism. Her figures and faces are personalized, stylized and manipulated with a skilled hand till they’re kind of one – almost organically – with her semi-surreal settings and backgrounds. I’ve never seen a Gina Higgins painting in the flesh, but something tells me it would make me want to cry.

See next post…

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More From Paul Roberts

the little sister

More from UK painter Paul Roberts. See the preceding post for more paintings and some remarks about the artist.

Shown above:

  • The Little Sister

Shown Below:

  • The Little Sister 2
  • The Passenger
  • The Red Suit
  • Home Again
  • 4:35
  • 5:35

the little sister 2 2008the passengerthe red suithome again4 colon 355 colon 35

Paul Roberts

fickle heart

Shown above is UK painter Paul Roberts’ Fickle Heart. Born to artist parents in 1948, Roberts grew up in Wales, studied art and started his fine arts career, then took a break from painting in the 1970’s while a member of the rock band Sniff ‘n The Tears.

From the mid-1970’s through the 1990’s or thereabouts, Roberts work was primarily figurative hyper-realism, often depicting quirky, provocative and often disturbing scenes, sometimes reminiscent of 1950’s/60’s crime films. Later work in the 90’s through 2000’s began to exhibit a more expressive brush, less reliance on photo-realistic representations, and sometimes puzzling subjects, though examples of work on the artist’s own website through 2008 show him returning to the realistic narrative approach.

the bodyguard

I’ve read comparisons to such diverse painters as American neo-expressionist Eric Fischl and Scottish artist Jack Vettriano, neither of which I’d agree with at all, considering any similarities coincidental and only a perfunctory reaction to contemporary urban/suburban settings on one hand (Fischl), and men who may be gangsters in white dress shirts paired with women in vintage lingerie and stockings on the other (Vettriano). But then, a one-time fine arts major is not an art scholar or critic, so what the hell do I know? If anything, those earlier Roberts paintings, which are the ones that often reappear on pop art, pinup and noir culture sites and blogs (like this one, I suppose) seem to glean their imagery from edgy fashion editorials like those shot by Helmut Newton, Ellen von Unwerth and others. But ultimately, who cares? They’re thought-provoking work, beautifully rendered, all of them.

Shown here are:

  • Fickle Heart (above)
  • The Bodyguard (above)

And below:

  • Bodyguard 2
  • Telephone
  • The Operator
  • Sleeping
  • Tied Up

bodyguard 2telephonethe operator 2sleepingtied up

More of Paul Roberts paintings follow in a subsequent post…

 

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