I am not sure if it’s because of Halloween, but all artists featured this month have a story to tell, and it’s not made of candy floss. Haunted, troubled and full of attitude, here are three artists whose work I fell in love with this month.
1. Alex Merritt – follow on Instagram
Silent screams trapped in shadows haunt Alex Merritt’s extraordinary paintings. The power to convey an intense action such as a scream through a silent medium fascinated me since I saw paintings such as The Scream by Edvard Munch or the Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Francis Bacon, and Merritt has definitely taken this art to a next level.
Merritt’s characters seem lost between two worlds, isolated in doom, walking patiently, knowing that an exit or salvation will never come. The colours melt and fade in despair, their faces dissolve succumbing to gravity. Their bodies are one with the background.
Dark as these paintings are in subject, Merritt is a resourceful artist and does not limit his palette. His colours range from violent red to melancholic blue or even pink and emerald green. From old, crouched men, to small, awkwardly standing children, his characters are perfectly formed in their blur, and I would surely not want to be left alone in a dark room with them.
2. Art of Shaima – follow her blog
You might know the six word short story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn”. Shaima is a master of telling a story with a similar economy elements yet carefully selected details. Children are having breakfast – what could go wrong, right?
Except for the obvious horns on the head of the man (or woman?) serving them, notice the pleasure on the girl’s face and the sorrow on the boy’s face. Hilariously dark.
It is exactly this playful humour that makes Shaima’s art so unique: sardonic smiles, surprised eyes and fantastic elements unveil a story and children with their playfulness and temperament often take a main role.
Shaima is interested in Scandinavian and Germanic paganism while mythological creatures or elements are common themes in her art. This black and white drawing could be right out of the series West End, a seeming villain fighting to save the world, knowing more than the rest. Again, a small detail, the scratches on her face, reveal and underlining story. A wonderful storyteller!
3. Ingebjørg Frøydis Støyva – follow on Instagram
“One day, my Mother… brought me a lovely doll as a present… I put her to sleep in her box, but first I cut off her legs and arms so she’d fit… Later, I cut her head off too, so she wouldn’t be so heavy. Now I love her very much.”
The Greek writer Margarita Karapanou received instant recognition and international acclaim when she wrote her book Kassandra and the Wolf . Children are usually depicted as pure, happy and innocent, we forget their unintentional cruelty and violence, their stubbornness, anger but also melancholy that comes from ignorance of rules and a hurricane of untamed feelings.
Norwegian artist Ingebjørg puts children at the centre of her paintings with raw honesty. Her small characters are found in everyday, mundane settings, a ballet lesson, a Halloween party, and they look into your eye with intensity. They do not shy away, and you will either look away, feeling like an intruder of their world, or accept them for who they are.
Ingebjørg is a rarely talented artist, not just because of her portrait technique, but because she reveals something that only masters of art such as Rembrandt achieve, to reveal the inner world of people she paints. If I were a curator, I would love to put on her solo exhibition.