The Paint Space Festive Edit: What We Love this Month

In my previous Paint Space Edits I chose artists whose work I find beautiful and intriguing in some way, but the paintings were not necessarily the most joyful out there.

I am a victim of gloomy art, I must admit. My favourite art depicts gloomy, beautiful women in surreal worlds. A bit like Susie Cave (one of my obsessions) down the rabbit hole.

But this month, the Paint Space edit gets festive. I looked for playful, fun paintings that bring a smile to your face, and I looked hard. The truth is, most artists share my taste. I have to say, we need more Yayoi Kusamas out there celebrating life. If you do know artists that paint happy subjects let me know!

In the meantime, I did find three artists whose work I love and is colourful, fun and intriguing. Without further delay, here are my three festive themes as portrayed by three contemporary artists.

Family

A ridiculous still life’... Pistachio by John Currin. Photograph: John Currin/Copyright the Artist, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
‘A ridiculous still life’… Pistachio by John Currin. Photograph: John Currin/Copyright the Artist, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

What would the festive season be without family? Loving, supporting, weird and annoying… American artist John Currin is widely known for his provocative, satirical paintings, but his portraits of couples caught my eye.

'Old couple’ by John Currin. Photograph: John Currin/Copyright the Artist
‘Old couple’ by John Currin. Photograph: John Currin/Copyright the Artist

His couples express an honest affection and surrender in the hands of their loved one. The face of the man in ‘A ridiculous still life’ shows complete calm, devotion and comfort. His partner is tenderly pinching his breast, in a playful way.

Only when in love acting like children with your loved one makes sense. Love is the space of comfort to express yourself fully, including the childishness that we all still have but tend to lose.

‘Extremely good at being excessively bad’ ... Newspaper Couple by John Currin. Photograph: John Currin/ Copyright the Artist, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
‘Extremely good at being excessively bad’ Photograph: John Currin, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

But this playfulness is not only found in the expressions and mannerisms of his characters. They are covered with cards, wine, champagne, and ice-cream is melting on the man’s head.

A literal allegory, as one woman has a snail on her shoulder while the other one a bird. And really, one is stuck on her husband, her long fingers in awkward positions like a snail, while the other one looks over her husband in a protective, almost wise way. John Currin‘s paintings would make you believe in love if you lost faith in it.

Style

The Welbeloves Monkey by Unskilled Worker
The Welbeloves Monkey by Unskilled Worker

The festive season is the perfect excuse to overdo it. Lace gloves? Emerald sequins? Long shiny earrings? Check, check and check. My absolute favourite living artist is Unskilled Worker, and style has found its home in her paintings.

An English Idyll 2 by Unskilled Worker
An English Idyll 2 by Unskilled Worker

Unskilled worker has the rare quality that makes a true artist. Just like you just know that this is a William Morris design, a Thom Yorke song or a Tim Burton film, you just know that this is an Unskilled Worker painting.

Where can I start? Bright colours, exotic sceneries an exquisite fashion taste and extreme attention to detail… not to forget the captivating eyes, the strange creatures, the explosion of colours and action that all together make absolute sense.

Constance, Grace and Hope by Unskilled Worker
Constance, Grace and Hope by Unskilled Worker

Her characters are stylish, but never arrogant. They transmit a calm sophistication, nothing could stress them. They’re the definition of “cool”. Unskilled Worker‘s paintings are the kind of “party” you want to join. Even if the background is just a wall, you can tell that if you zoom out you will be in the most awesome spot.

Hygge

Painting by Meg Franklin
Painting by Meg Franklin

Hygge is a very trendy word now. It’s the Danish word for cosiness and conviviality bringing a feeling of well-being. As my partner is Danish I know that to create hygge it is essential to have candles. They even have real candles on their Christmas tree!

My last “ingredient” for the festive season is hygge, and it can be found in Meg Franklin‘s paintings. She uses mostly red tones and plays a lot with shadow and light to create a feeling of coziness and warmth.

Painting by Meg Franklin
Painting by Meg Franklin

Meg Franklin is very talented in creating the illusion of light and shadow and confident in using contrast. These paintings make me want to curl up with a mug of mulled wine and biscuits with cinnamon.

Painting by Meg Franklin
Painting by Meg Franklin

This is the last Paint Space post for this year. Merry Christmas everyone! I am wishing a 2019 full of creativity and imagination to everyone.

Paint Space xx


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