Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Monique Crookes – "Two Zebra"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Monique Crookes is self-taught and her work exhibits a great flair for drawing and illustration abilities. She paints using mostly acrylics and a mixed medium with watercolors and creates pictures of a wide range of subjects, from fantasy abstracts to dramatic portraits of African wildlife. Many of her paintings have a stylish graphic nature, such as is the case with "Leopard" and "Uno," a striking portrait of a white lily with fanciful yellow globes on a maroon background.

Crookes frequently shows a gentleness in her work that contrasts pleasantly with her mostly very graphic subjects. "Two by Two" is a lovely example of this overall aesthetic. It shows silhouettes of two giraffes standing next to one another in stark shadows, while busy gold and red globes threaten to take over the background behind them.

"Two Zebra" is a masterfully accomplished acrylic depicting the faces of two zebras nuzzling the ground, nose-to-nose. Crookes has taken full advantage of the amazing black and white markings of the zebras to create an interesting, very graphic painting. There is a sweet, highly approachable look in the zebra’s eyes that communicates clearly they are not to be feared, but loved.

To see a representative abstract by this artist, visit "Window," a remarkable canvas divided into six rectangles and saturated with her now-familiar circular and oval shapes. This picture, which measures 40″ by 30″, uses hugely satisfying high contrasts in color, light and shadow to create large diamond shapes beyond the "window."

Andrew Sanan – "Peace" and "Listen"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Now living and showing in East London, Andrew Sanan has a penchant for painting landscapes, and almost always works in oils on canvas. The glory of nature in the form of seascapes and florals, plus many lovely architectural scenes, will also frequently catch his eye. "Tuscan Bridge" is a fine ambassador for Sanan’s grasp of architecture set in the midst of a nature-blessed locale.

A painting simply called "Peace" is probably one of the best-executed, most moving of Sanan’s landscapes in this collection. It is a striking depiction of a field divided by a large, low, blue hill on the horizon and a burgeoning, stormy-grey sky. Beautifully painted trees delineate the middle and foregrounds, and the immediate foreground is covered with heavy weeds and growth created with a palette knife in the high-contrast colors of wheat and dark maroon. As the storm grows, a stand of evergreens meets it calmly, accepting what will be with abundant grace and nobility.

"Listen" is a similar painting, another beautiful field with sentinel green trees dotting the middle ground and horizon. The palette knife work is exquisite throughout this remarkable canvas, and the artist displays a deft understanding of the power of light and dark. As with the title "Peace," "Listen" makes it clear to the artist’s viewers that they are not witnessing what is intended for just another pretty landscape here. The scene is alive and vibrant, and the tall trees are the stoic, lovely stars of the show.

Edward Saunders – "Curious Tiger Cub"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Brian Edward Saunders is a gifted artist who works almost exclusively with pencil and paper. His work is therefore almost all in black and white with deftly wrought variations of grays. Saunders manages to craft some beautiful pieces in this highly restrictive medium, from the simplest "White Rose" to "Chimba," a photographic representation of a beautiful lion. This latter work is a stunning example of Saunders ability with the humble pencil.

"African Iris" and "African Daisy" are remarkable also, both accomplished with pencil on a large black field. The artist has left the bulk of the canvas in black, giving an interesting, almost Oriental flavor to the work, since the field retains almost as much importance as the subject. "African Iris," in fact, is highly delicate and Japanese in nature, due to the compelling, large black background and the stark black-and-white beauty of the two flowers themselves, on placed in the high left corner, and one in the lower right.

"Curious Tiger Cub" is an irresistible portrait carried out in oil pastel on paper. This work measures 17″ wide by 24″ high and depicts a picture-perfect tiger cub with ears and one paw caught in the act of emerging from a window or pet door. The beautiful markings of the tiger are assiduously drawn in the expected colors of brown, black, and white. Again, the artist uses a striking, all-black field. The tiger cub’s attention is drawn somewhere off to his right, where he appears to be contemplating springing.

Allyson Shone – "Garden Queen"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Allyson Shone is a watercolor teacher who creates her own paintings using both watercolors and oils. She has a practiced, easy hand with her delicate watercolors, such as one can easily see in "White Roses" and "Bouganvillea." These are both large works that feature magnificent flower arrangements captured by an artist with a wonderful eye and an obvious devotion to beauty.

"Irises" is a stunning piece which Shone painted in oils. Her work in this medium differs vastly from her watercolors, showing an strict attention to boundaries and blending that tends toward the high-contrast values, as opposed to her lovely watercolor pastel palettes.

"Garden Queen" depicts some amazing purple blossoms surrounded by yellow-green stalks. Created on glass paper known as "Yupo" paper, this watercolor is a lovely work. The composition, flow, and rhythm of the piece match the undeniable appeal of the flowers. This is one of Shone’s most successful watercolors. It measures fourteen inches wide by nineteen inches high and the flowers occupy nearly the entire canvas, though space is devoted to the stems and leaves of the crowded garden the comprises the vibrant background.

For a unique departure from her usual approach, see "Magic," a lovely oil painting portrait of the grey-furred head of a cat with bright golden eyes. This picture captures the spirit of the little animal in high-contrast purity. Unlike most of her work, "Magic" shows the subject on a plain brown background, which allows the light-colored whiskers to play very well indeed.

Melanie Meyer – "Forest for the Trees,"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Melanie Meyer concentrates almost exclusively on turning out her remarkable abstract landscapes in acrylic. Her paintings range from fairly diminutive, such as "Autumn Hills 04," which measures one foot square, to the likes of "Flamingo Vlei," another square canvas, but which measures nearly four feet by four feet. "Autumn Hills" is a rare departure for Meyer, as it is a recognizable depiction of a reddish landscape, with a row of trees in the horizon and beautiful clouds above. "Flamingo Vlei," on the other hand, is a true abstract and as such is much more similar to the bulk of her online collection.

In "Forest for the Trees," we have a large canvas that measures 48″ wide by 35″ high, completely filled with a rich abstract acrylic. The artist explains that these are the foothills of a forest, where a journey begins. The work is comprised of horizontal layers that have no immediate meaning other than to support the viewer’s imagination. As we superimpose our knowledge of the title, combined with our imaginations, onto the painting, we can, indeed start to see the forest’s beginning. A stunning palette ranging from creams to light blues to russets to olive-grey, provides a luscious quality to this appealing abstract.

Meyer’s color choices are, in fact, almost always delectable. "Flamingo Dance 02," an abstract in lavenders and teals, and "Sisters," an enormous expressive work measuring 83″ by 59″ and employing all the colors of a male peacock, are two excellent examples.

Zonika Botha – "Confusion" and "Broken Moon"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Zonika Botha is a self-taught artist with a pronounced preference for the abstract. Working in both oils and acrylics on canvas, she produces colorful, modern pieces that are attractive, graphic and often thought-provoking. "Pulse" falls into the latter category, a successful attempt to portray the pulse of a beating heart in an abstract work on canvas. "Lost Soul" is another though-provoking piece, depicting a small, mostly abstract human figure at the end of a tunnel made, presumably, of tree trunks. There is light at the end of the tunnel and all around the "lost" soul.

"Confusion" is a strictly abstract work, an acrylic on stretched canvas measuring 24″ wide by 16″ high and divided into two pieces. In the center is a cross-like shape, decorated by various geometric figures and a large diagonal ray running through them. The heavily textured background is likewise comprised of geometric shapes, from circles to lines to rectangles. Bold lines range from subtle colors to stark white and black. The entire effect is completely pleasing and, unlike the title, "Confusion," very well-balanced.

"Broken Moon" is another favorite in this artist’s online grouping. Another strictly abstract work, it employs geometric figures in shades of white on a dark background that graduates from dark reds to teal blue. Several shapes that could be moons are sprinkled throughout the canvas in a visually appealing composition. Some of them are full-moon circles, and others are "broken"in half. Like "Confusion," this is altogether an interesting work of art.


Terry ann Kalinko – "Jacarandas"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Terry Ann Kalinko is an artist with a strikingly beautiful voice. Her work, all oil paintings, ranges from deliciously lovely and attractive, such as is the case with "Cape Blush 2," a lavish, irresistible landscape, to hard-hitting, such as "The Artist," a remarkable study in bold outlines and the contrasting shapes of canvases inside an art studio, with the painter in the foreground. Many of her pictures are enveloped in abstract, wide-swathed geometric shapes that add a great deal of dimension, depth, texture and interest to the work. A good example of this unusual and courageous technique can be seen in "Portrait Woman in Prayer."

One of Kalinko’s most undeniably gorgeous paintings is simply called "Jacarandas." This picture rivals the old masters of impressionism in its musical rhythm, richly sumptuous palette, and pleasing composition. An expressive depiction of a road lined on both sides with jacarandas in full bloom, its colors are necessarily shades of lavender, purple, and gold, with a blue sky in the far background. Jacaranda blossoms cover the ground as well as the tree branches and fall from the sky. Everything is pictured in boldly outlined, high-contrast curves, lending the entire painting a vibrant movement that is alive and impactful. This painting shows the artist in her best light, and it is impressive indeed.

"Ballet Talk" is a charming oil and another consummate example of Kalinko’s talent. She portrays two dancers in full ballet dress, chatting with one another as they relax. This is a very contemporary work of modern art from Kalinko, deservedly unafraid in her surety of hand and skill.

Simon van Leeuwen – "Face of a Clown"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Born in the Netherlands, Simon van Leeuwen is a well-known and prolific artist whose medium of choice is oil. His work is invariably expressive, employing bold use of color, contrast, and texture in the form of blunt, heavy strokes softened by technically adept, perfectly blended colors.

Van Leeuwen portrays all the usual suspects in his wide-ranging online gallery: florals, portraits, landscapes, wildlife, and architectural subjects all have their moments to shine. "San Marco Square – Venice" is a great example of one of his paintings that features a prominent world city, and "African Market" is a beautiful homage to the color and ambiance of his adopted homeland. "Hibiscus" shows his control and aplomb with the broad, bold brushstroke in no uncertain terms. and "San Girld 2" is a lovely, sensitive portrait of a native woman in all her glory.

"Face of a Clown" stands out among van Leeuwen’s large collection as a real favorite. This is, as the title says, a closeup portrait of a clown’s face, dutifully painted in primary colors on a clown white field. The sad eyes match the sad-clown, painted mouth, and a tear falls from the right eye. But what is most striking about this stunning picture is an overlay of shadowy rays that completely cover the canvas. It could be the effect of a screen between the viewer and the subject, or it could be a device used for added interest. Whatever its reason, it took guts to do, and it really works!

Susanna Swart – "Object of Desire"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Well-represented in private and public collections across the planet, Susanna Swart is a technically gifted, interesting artist. "The mystical African landscape, its people and spirituality, heavily influence my work," she writes in her online profile.

"Object of Desire" is a striking bronze sculpture depicting a single female foot. The tips of the toes rest delicately on its presentation platform, and the rest of the foot is raised above them, as if the owner is running, dancing, or simply stretching upward.

What makes this piece so interesting is the relief design which covers its entire surface. Swart says that the relief work is inspired by the ornate decoration used in traditional Mendhi art. This refers to the beautiful henna decorations generally used by Hindu artists to cover the hands and the fingers in Hindu folkart.

"Object of Desire" is an inspiring sculpture that carries a generous, low price tag. The artist calls the work a "foot portrait" and offers similar portraits. She obviously has found a unique niche, one that taps the interest of foot-lovers everywhere.

Michael Souter – "Morning Phantom"

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Michael Souter is a consummate technician with a long professional career as a graphic artist and designer. Working almost exclusively with acrylic on canvas, he produces painting after painting that is fresh, delightful and attractive. "Giant Kingfisher" shows his skill and style very well, a portrayal of a beautifully feathered kingfisher with a fish captive between its beaks. "Helmeted Guinea Fowl 4" is another homage to the indigenous birdlife, also impeccably carried out.

Souter has a number of sports-themed paintings in a series within this online gallery. "South African Soccer Supporter" and "Orlando Pirates Supporter" are two excellent examples. "Black Rhino of Etosha" Is a bold portrayal of the indisputably ugly, yet compelling, face of a rhinocerous, and "Burnt Protea 1" is an irresistibly unique vision of the beautiful flower, singed artistically around the edges. "Loerie" is an unusual, illustrative picture of a bird, carried out in bold, graphic lines of white, dark green, sand, and red.

"Morning Phantom" is a Souter painting that is quite different from all the rest. An acrylic on canvas, that is where the similarities end. This fantasy painting shows a crude etching of a birdlike figure in white on a dark russet background. Reminiscent of both a Picasso drawing and a picture carved into a stone wall by one of the early cave dwellers, it has an immediate positive impact. The viewer feels its friendly intent right away, and the decorative bird-figure would be a wonderful addition to any art-lover’s collection.