Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tony Ortega - Review


   Tony Ortega is a staple of the Colorado art community.  A teacher and artist for over 30 years his socially conscious murals, paintings and drawings enliven Denver’s streets and walls.   His works have all of the social dialogue of a Diego Rivera with the wild expressionism of a Gauguin.  

   His paintings tell the stories of migrant workers and families.  Scenes of schools, farms, streets and residences are given a personal view that is often neglected or ignored.  Bright colors celebrate the subjects in an earnest manner.  Paint and pastels are treated similarly but the forms in his paintings are stronger and more solid.  Expressive colors exaggerate personal emotions in his social scenes.  Ortega emphasizes an individual and social responsibility throughout his works. Many of the figures are faceless, allowing the viewer to relate to the anonymous character in scenes where everyday life is combined with magic realism.  

   Ortega eloquently expands upon the Chicano experience while staying true to its traditions.  Everyone likes Latino food, but it’s time people experienced more Latino art and music.  Look for Tony Ortega’s murals around Denver, follow him online, and look for more of his work here @sharks_eat_meat . 

Review by John Coulter

DAY 2819 - Still in Love with you Missouri

Photography by Trevor Hawkins

REVIEW - Aaron Johnson & Mu Pan

Aaron Johnson

   Aaron Johnson’s New Paintings at Joshua Liner Gallery are amazing.  The works are like a family photo album of Grosz’, Kirchner’s, Goya’s and Picasso’s.  Each painting features piles of twisted knotted faces.  Stacks and grids of portraits with no bodies is a format we are used to seeing by 2018.  From mugshots, to yearbooks - from Facebook’s feed to Instagram’s - the wall of faces is nothing new.   The hobbled raw aesthetic here is what’s fresh.  The faces fade in and out like an interconnected web.  While any of these portrait formats may not have been the artists intentional reference the concept of representing the human face has evolved on the shoulders of past iterations.   Johnson’s paintings blend the lines between the social and the individual.  

  The color in the work is top notch.  They are way more complex than a bag of Skittles with color schemes that utilize a full palette.  On par with how Gauguin, Cassatt or Renoir exaggerated non local colors and gave them deep saturation  -  Blues turn to purple or indigo and bright greens and oranges splash most faces.  Johnson’s work has a similar frenzied energy to Despina Stokou’s paintings.  While Stokou specifically paints texts and emojis both are painters who capture the spirit of our contemporary world. 

   Aaron Johnson is a clever artist and a dedicated painter who pulls no gimmicks.  He’s very true to the medium.  Stay tuned to SharskEatMeat for daily contemporary art, regular reviews and all your art and culture needs.   Visit Joshua Liner Gallery in Manhattan and follow their Instagram for new exhibitions.   

Review by John Aaron Coulter

Mu Pan:  Bright Moon Shines on the River

   Mu Pan’s show Bright Moon Shines on the River at Joshua Liner Gallery is one of a kind.  While the concept didn’t grab me, it certainly confused me, I’m not bothered.  In fact I’m very intrigued.  Despite never finding a solid conclusion about the work’s theme, the sheer quality of the work allows them to stand on their own.  The work’s plot is adequate as a mystery to me.  A million stories can be injected in to the chaotic scenes, and the variety of interpretations gives them strength.  

   The paintings rival the expansiveness of any Mughal court scene or Bosch.  The depth and scope of the scenes are as vast as the artist’s imagination.  Never a single portrait but entire surreal and chaotic societal scenes.  I’m talking Paolo Uccello’s “The Battle of San Romano” chaos.  And yet they are rendered in a way so different than meaty antiquated battle scenes.  The brush strokes are soft and furry with many figures left open.  The lack of solidness allows easy movement through the chaotic scene; in fact it creates its own dynamic sense of movement.  The smooth but dense mark-making on the figures is similar to how Klimt treated a figure’s skin.   

   Support Mu Pan.  Visit their website and go to their shows.   I highly encourage collecting these if you have the opportunity.  They are ridiculous.  They are the types of works you could stare at for hours and hours -  longer than any Netflix binge, and still discover something new.   They are excellent conversation pieces.  Follow Sharks Eat Meat for more daily art and culture news.  

Review by John Aaron Coulter

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

DAY 2812 - Locked Up

Photography and hair by Angela McCormick - Model Nimeta Music

Maluca - Review


   New York City native Natalie Ann Yepez records and performs as Maluca Mala.  A general translation would be ‘Bad Girl.’  Her tropical punk style matches the music.   Maluca + The Partysquad’s  “Lola (Ging Danga)” features a classic dembo beat, with choppy drums and lots of vocals, (as well as maybe some sirens or synth air horns.)  The music is sexy as hell.  The video is fun, and it’s a great club or party song.   “El Tigeraso” uses a clean club beat with merengue rhythms interspersed.  It is my favorite track of hers.  Aggressive but clean, the song has excellent storytelling and bilingual rap.  It gives the perspective of a woman in NYC.  The video is fun, tacky in a wonderful way, with a colorful femme fatale style.  It’s very in tune with the alternative scene.  

   Her song “Mala” employs a soft whisper rap over a catchy, more pop commercial beat.  It has a dub bass, synth-pop hooks and spacey dembow percussion throughout. A strange tropical cyber punk theme besets the video, which accentuates the artists style.   Her style stands out compared to other dembow, urbano, and reggaeton.  She has qualities similar to Buraka Som Sistema, El Alpha, or Los Teke Teke, but is she is distinctly different.  She blends rhythms from dembow, merengue, and hip hop more smoothly than the other groups and is certainly more experimental.  

   With the following Maluca has gathered there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing her regularly on tv, touring and in magazines.  Check her out on YouTube, SoundCloud, Instagram, and Bandcamp.   Follow @sharks_eat_meat to find out more about Maluca and other artists.  

Review by John Coulter