Author: carlosaleman

Destructive Art

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‘Kristopher’ © 2018 Carlos Aleman
Model: Krystopher Perry
Reference photo by Aaron White


When I first started Googling Gerhard Richter years ago, I considered his blur paintings to be ‘destructive’ (Although Richter is adamant that they are not, merely a ‘balancing’). As I’ve come across many other artists, seemingly ruining a perfectly good work of art by painting abstract over realism, the word, destructive, always comes to mind. The first few times I attempted this, I have to admit, it did get my pulse up a little—the apprehension, I suppose is natural. Why would an artist want to spend so many hours attempting to render a subject realistically, only to obscure it with severe and harsh brushstrokes and paint splatter? In the same way an institution evolves whilst maintaining reverence for the past, sometimes art progresses in more than one direction. Who can deny that the delicate edges between the rectangles of a Rothko painting taught us volumes? Why not revisit Pollack and Pop art? What will we include in our art omelette? Perhaps the evolutionary fossil record of painting will, if you look hard enough, include the love of many muses and the love of many methods.




Luna – All It Really Is

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‘Luna’ © 2018 Carlos Aleman


Luna is wearing a Marie Antoinette inspired costume. It seems fitting to go back in time, in a sense, and consider the rise of Neoclassicism in a painting that perhaps encompasses all of art history. I say this because I’ve never been able to let go of realism as I respond to modern and contemporary movements. The bright, colorful works of Superflat in all that is Pop and Post Pop, the love for Takashi Murakami and Romero Britto, and the destructive renderings of Lionel Smit and Mario Henrique all get processed somehow in my psyche. And yet all it really is—the most profound subject in all existence—a beautiful woman gazing deep in thought, in the manner of Vermeer and Ikenaga Yasunari, or atleast my take on it.





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‘Remain’ © 2018 Carlos Aleman


‘Remain’ (Aryuna Tardis No. 2)
Acrylic on Canvas – 30” x 48”

‘Remain’ is a project that I’ve wanted to work on for almost a year. The first painting I did of Aryuna Tardis, entitled, ‘Gimme Love,’ seemed to be well received by the model, but when I asked if she would give me permission to use another of her images as a reference picture for a painting, I never heard back, despite several follow ups. Upon a closer look at the painting, was she displeased or upset with the rendering or proportions? Was she secretly adamant that I never paint her again? Oh, the angst and drama! I checked my measurements and found to my dismay that I had made the distance between her nose and mouth ever so slightly off—maybe a sixteenth of an inch.   Such tiny miscalculations are major catastrophes in portraiture. Oh well!

But after many months, I decided to ask again. Aryuna, who is Russian—and I’m not sure how good her English is—responded:   Hi! Sure! followed by five heart emoji.   Game on, I thought.


A Beautiful Boredom

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Underneath all the technology, the radiant displays and electric colors of our online profiles, social media presence, friends, friends and more friends we’ve never even met —underneath all the sharing, posting, commenting and ‘likes,’ underneath all the things we admit and all the things we hide, all our loneliness and insecurity, successes and failures, exaggerations, and moments of laughter and pain, there is somewhere underneath all those pixels, the image of ourselves we try so hard to create, ordinary people living in boredom, an almost unbearably beautiful boredom.


The Second Layla Ong

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‘Layla Number 2’ © 2018 Carlos Aleman Acrylic on Canvas
Diptych (2 panels, 40″ x 30″ each, total size = 40″ x 60″)


This second version of Layla Ong is very similar to the first except for eye color, green halo and angle. (Photographer, Lenne Chai, was kind enough to allow me to use her work as reference images) I think the influence of Japanese woodblock printing is even more apparent in the lines, and perhaps, flatness of the painting. There’s also an Art Deco feel to it, nothing intentional, just how things look to me afterwards.

Working on two large panels, I find that the color and detail are quite satisfying, but not so much as a jpg on a device. I suppose it’s the same as writing music to be performed at a stadium as opposed to a smaller venue. (Ever watch David Byrne’s TED Talk: How architecture helped music evolve?) I wonder how artists paint enormous murals on the sides of buildings. Anyway, I was in the mood for a larger work and another portrait of Layla—now on to something different… maybe.



Large Layla

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‘Layla’ © 2018
36″ x 48″ Acrylic on Canvas


I finally got around to painting the full size version of Layla.  As much as I tried to create an exact reproduction, when I put the smaller preliminary painting on watercolor paper next to the large canvas, I noticed that there are striking differences.  Even with taking careful measurements, the slight variations in proportions and contours produce a completely different mood and expression.  I added a halo in this one, using a more subtle blue than my previous bright green attempts.



Something to raise your Spiryts

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As I gear up for my book release event (at a local comic convention), I wonder who’ll get swallowed up into the maelstrom that is my new graphic novel, Spiryts. I’ve been giving away Spiryts as a free e-book online. The downloads by faceless pop culture bibliophiles is oddly satisfying, knowing that my story and illustrations are imprinting themselves onto the collective retina of many.

But of most interest and consequence to me is the decoding of the mystery itself. Will someone with an undiscovered gift for cryptology—or simply the visually oriented—crack the codes quickly and easily or will people be baffled long after I’m gone? —Preferably, somewhere between the former and the latter. For there must be a sweet spot of viral attention that will lead to some good being done in this world, for I assure you, raising awareness of subject matter is half the battle and this is most definitely an example thereof.

Spiryts was ten years in the making, begun in 2008, with artwork that served as an instrument for me to explore the unknown within myself. I’ve had all that time to allow the subconscious and waking mind to ruminate and piece together what it all means. Using the Japanese story, Urashima Taro, as a thread to weave together concepts, the narrative unfolds with hidden and sometimes not so hidden text and imagery.

Read the story first as perhaps a work of surrealism, but then go back and comb over the archetypes, symbols and metaphors, using all at your disposal to delve deep. Leaf through the paperback and use Adobe Acrobat to zoom in on the online pdf file. Compare what you find with photos, videos and anything posted to my website.

Spiryts was not created for the sake of being strange and impossible to understand as one might guess with the Voynich manuscript or the Codex Seraphinus.   Neither is it a treasure hunt like Kit William’s Masquerade, although there’s much to search for and consider in a geographical context.

If you reach the first level of discovery, the deciphering of the language of ‘Otohime,’ don’t be frightened or disturbed by the revelation at the end of the book.   There is safety in numbers.   Band together with friends, family and possibly law enforcement and intelligence agencies.   Hyperbole? Well, who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Like a Yayoi Kusama infinity room, Aya’s reflection in Urashima’s heart, goes on forever. And so does the thirst for answers.

Click here to go to the free download page.