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Art Essays

Art Essays

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Published by Lethe
The visual arts have been at the center of my life from my earliest memories. My mother was a painter and she taught me to observe the world intently; she also conveyed the mysteries of the creative artist; a love of introspection; an intelligence built on association. My father had a passion for classical literature and he taught me the importance of words, sentences, logic. He introduced thematic concerns. My own form of expression, I like to believe, is a combination of the two.
The visual arts have been at the center of my life from my earliest memories. My mother was a painter and she taught me to observe the world intently; she also conveyed the mysteries of the creative artist; a love of introspection; an intelligence built on association. My father had a passion for classical literature and he taught me the importance of words, sentences, logic. He introduced thematic concerns. My own form of expression, I like to believe, is a combination of the two.

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Published by: Lethe on Jun 11, 2010
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When it comes to art, I have a bias towards the vividly imaginative. Certain illustrative

works are windows into childlike worlds, where color, whimsy, and spirits abound. The

separation between fine art and illustration is growing smaller. We can look to Henry

Darger's oeuvre, a collection of 15 separate manuscripts, each 145 pages--with hundreds

of drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the stories--as the point at which

illustration becomes fine art. Today, master illustrators such as Olaf Hajek, are being

recognized for their art in publications such as Lürzer's Archive 200 Best Illustrator's

Worldwide.

Well-known galleries are increasingly representing illustrators and comic book

artists. One of my favorite contemporary art galleries is the Adam Baumgold Gallery.

Baumgold sells the astounding graphite on paper works by John Borowicz, the comic art

of Charles Burns (author of the graphic novel, Black Hole), the ink on paper works by

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Rene French, and various other examples of contemporary art that reside in the territory

between illustration and traditional fine art.

Hajek's works stand on their own as fine art. They do not need the context of the

magazine or publication to illuminate them. There is a prevailing style that is

characteristically Hajek, and each illustration is a full composition. Particularly, I like the

fine-lined figures that evoke the artwork of a child. At the same time, however, Hajek's

art reflects a sophistication of design, in which fantasy elements and real-life elements are

brought together into harmony. Objects in the illustrations are full of life-affirming

beauty, and yet the scenes also give way to esoteric mystery.

What is the future of illustration? I see illustration gaining importance to fine art

collectors. Our world, which is entrenched in images, is best represented by these image-

centric illustrations. You need not look far on the Internet to see what our visual culture

has become. We consume images daily, identify with them, avatar them, collect them,

bookmark them, put them on our iPhones and screen savers; in short, we decorate our

lives with them. But know that these illustrations are not merely decorative. They are

imaginative works that add a level of depth and mystery to our lives.

Master illustrators such as Olaf Hajek are emerging as a new breed of

contemporary fine artists. Their art plays with the boundaries between high and low,

pushes the threshold between comics and paintings, challenges the division between

commercial and personal work. We are seeing it now, as illustrators display their works

on the Internet by the thousands. Their vividly imaginative renderings create the visual

diversity of the web, and in the process, make our experience of web-surfing even more

delightful. How wonderful it is to come across the fanciful images of an unknown

illustrator. It feels like a true discovery.

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