Through the postwar era, so-called visual culture has enveloped fine art— its forebear, if you will. Today images are central in virtually every commercial, political, and academic sphere and strategy. Somewhat ironically, the old art, in its fundamental intention of existing primarily as art, has found a perfect DIY marketing platform in Instagram (IG), geared in conception toward the dispersal of images without much accompanying verbiage. It seems many with little previous contact with art (whether by choice or not), are pausing at artworks proliferating in threads and reposts on IG at this moment when social media overall is blowing up. Not lost on artists struggling for exposure (which is most of them), in terms of having the work seen. Although the presence of high-profile artists, galleries, and museums remains pervasive in virtual reality, the shut-down of their collective dominant physical presence has left room for others to vie for attention.
The funky, mostly petite portraits of Kris Lamorena, @Kris.lamorena, (London), recall raw, apartment-scale East Village art in the 1980s. Child-like in facial distinctions, their Fauvist coloration appears at once random, purposefully absurd, and a key to each sitter’s outer and inner mien. Intermittent ink drawings posted betray a fluid sense of line disbanded in the quirky, charming paintings.
Roberta de Mutiis, @robi_de_mutiius, (Milan), has been posting a mixed-media “sketchbook” series of hollow-eyed hybrid creatures, boldly gestural in pigment application for their small size. Somewhat reminiscent of Dubuffet in their mix of the comic and the grotesque, they suggest a morphing interspecies clan with various horn, hide, wing, and reptilian attributes.
As fearsome, funny figments of the artist’s imagination, they sometimes encroach onto the walls and objects in her domestic environment—inevitably read at the moment as partly a symptom of isolation.
The paintings of Donna Festa, @donnafestaartist, (Maine), lend especially to close individual looking. Working in a near-miniaturist format, she smudges a taupe palette applied with rich impasto into ghostly faces and figures. Most often, the subjects appear elderly with underlying pained expressions that hover in and out of focus to viscerally disturbing effect, amplified in the current crisis. They can recall Gericault’s sensitive portraits of “the insane” and Soutine’s melting flesh. Posted intermittently, her sparse ink drawings evoke despondent Zen caricatures.
Cindy Rizza, @cindy_rizza, (New Hampshire), takes an escapist route from our present perspective, with nostalgic piles of quilts and crocheted, sometimes flowery fabrics flung on the greenest grass in precisionist renderings, with some nice close-up posts.
A tight realist style is a priori a dialogue with photography; here, it also gives structure to the soft subjects and parallels painstaking textile techniques. A recent image of a child’s nightlight with an eerie glow suggests a more psychological turn. I’ll be following to see whether there is more than a momentary diversion in an oeuvre mainly about the surface—so far.