Anagnorisis Fine Arts

Angelic Possession by Binnorie

Portrait of Carrie Ann Baade

Anagnorisis Fine Arts is proud to present Angelic Possession, a solo exhibit of portraits by emerging artist, Buddy Nestor, taking place at the White Rabbit Lounge in New York City from July 2 through August 3.  See below for more details.

Buddy Nestor is an abstract painter. Not too long ago, he struck a strange new chord with portraiture, turning the beautiful faces of female artists into grotesque, distorted creatures, their features uncomfortably recognizable within melting forms, slashes and swirls of Buddy’s abstraction. Belying Buddy’s intention of removing beauty, he has paradoxically enhanced it by use of pleasing shapes and muted colors. His distortions are indeed symbolic of the more difficult sides of our realities; in their beauty they make us look and think.

Samantha Levin: You started painting while you were in the armed forces, correct? What specifically inspired you to pick up the brush while out there?

Buddy Nestor: I started drawing daily when I was old enough to hold a pencil. I did a few paintings in high school art classes, and made a few for gifts in my early twenties, but that was about it. In 1997, during my stint in the Navy, I witnessed my wife give birth to our son Blake. That event made me want to have amazing things to teach him, so I had to up my game in anything that interested me in the past, like juggling, guitar, painting, sports…etc. During that time, I painted for five or six hours a day. It kept me from losing my mind. I had a much better understanding of the medium when I returned home six months later. Making art has been a constant in my life since then.

SL: Five to six hours a day is what all artists should be able to dedicate to their work. I know nothing about the armed forces, so I’m surprised you had the time to do that. Care to comment?

BN: On the aircraft carrier, we worked 12 hour shifts everyday. I was in the same metal room, with the same people, with airplanes being shot off with a catapult one level above my shop. It sounded like a bomb going off. When my shift ended, I’d break out my supplies, put on my headphones and escape inward.

I certainly do not get 6 hours of painting in everyday. Life is not that generous. I get it in whenever I can. Normally, I begin working when the family lays down for the night, when the distractions are minimized. On the weekends, I pack in as much studio time as can.

Portrait of Danielle Ezzo

SL: Your previous work has been very abstract. What kicked off the change?

BN: Representational art led me to drill down into total abstraction and experimentation with different mediums and materials. After a few years, I found that all of the artists that I was drawn to were representational artists. So, I decided to take the abstract techniques that I had developed and apply them into portraits. I began working from photographs. I borrow the values from the photographs to give each piece some dimension, but I treat each area of the head as a separate abstract piece. The resulting images allow the viewer to see them through their own psychological baggage. It’s really my feelings that are projected onto each subject, because I don’t know them very well. I’m attempting to lift the mask off each person and show what it really feels like to be a human, stuck to the Earth, while it floats around in space. There are short moments of satisfaction, but life is a rough ride for everyone.

SL: What are your artistic aspirations?

BN: Painting is my moving meditation. It keeps my life balanced. I work in a way that is fairly minimal and simple. I’ve purposefully created a style that is fun from start to finish. Viewers can easily see how I get my effects and hopefully it inspires some of the younger kids to start painting. I’ve certainly stood in awe of work by artists like Eric White and Alex Grey, but that type of work seems so overwhelmingly difficult it makes me want to quit. Having the opportunity lately, to show my work alongside my peers and artistic heroes is an honor. Ultimately, of course, I would love to be able to paint all day, every day.

SL: Who are some of your favorite artists? What about them influences you?

BN: The Surrealists sparked my interest in art. Magritte, Dali, Matta, and Tanguay most heavily influenced me from that realm. Francis Bacon made me pick up the brush and continues to be my heaviest influence to this day. Scott Cranmer is the most dedicated painter I know. Daily discussions with him help me fight off my TV laziness and keep me in the studio. Paul Romano-Due to his proficiency with any medium and seemingly endless vision. Others include Jenny Saville, Stephen Kasner, Dan Quintana, Jeremy Clark (Hush), Lucian Freud, Jeff Soto, Josh Keyes, Duchamp, Alex Pardee, Doze Green, Kuksi, Giacometti, Shawn Barber, Chet Zar, Oliver Vernon, Pollock, David Hochbaum, Peter Adamyan, Josh Graham, Chris Mars, Charlie Immer, Cam de Leon, JL Schnabel, Picasso, Chuck Close, Erin Endicott, Cliff Wallace, David Stoupakis, Esao Andrews, Joseph Albers, Travis Louie, Mathew Barney, Genevive Zacconi, Judy Chicago, Damon Soule, H.R. Giger, Nicole Boitos, Ekundayo, Christian Rex van Minnen, Katie Perdue, Carrie Ann Baade, JoKa, Eric White, Frank Hyder, John Kolbek, Dan Harding, Naoto Hattori, Dan Barry, Fred Harper, Peggy Wauters, Mathew Ritchie, Robert Williams, and Edith Lebeau. I love their work for very different reasons, but they are all equally inspiring.

SL: Got any videos of you juggling?

BN: There are no videos of me juggling.

SL: So sad.


The opening for Angelic Possession will be particularly wild!  Buddy has invited three additional Philly artists, Katie Perdue, Nicole Boitos and Scott Cranmer, to paint live.  Video artist Josh Graham, visual mastermind behind metal band Neurosis, and leader of band A Storm of Light has cooked up some mesmerizing visuals for the night.

Opening reception:

July 2, 7pm-10pm
White Rabbit Lounge
145 East Houston (btwn Forsyth and Eldridge)

A gallery of artwork for sale has been started here.  Sign up for our mailing list to receive updates quickest!

Portrait of Nicole Boitos

Rainbow Blight – New Work by Christian van Minnen by Binnorie

My Love For You, Oil on Canvas, 28 x 22”

Out of sublimely beautiful grotesque forms come super-clean rainbows, stars and hearts, reminiscent of Lucky Charms cereal and My Little Pony toys. In this new exhibit of Christian van Minnen’s work entitled “Rainbow Blight”, which opened at Bert Green Fine Arts on Wednesday, May 12th, he seems to have transported himself deeper into the Pop Surreal while staying firmly put in the Neo-Grotesque.

I’m not used to seeing imagery reminiscent of children’s toys (design remnants of 70s culture) in van Minnen’s work. His usual style is seemingly derivative of emotive oil paintings from our history’s master painters (Arcimboldo or Rembrandt to name a couple out of many). These aspects of his work still preside, but have been newly punctuated with a very modern twist.

If you’re on the west coast and can see this show, Bert Green Fine Arts is located at 102 West 5th Street in Los Angeles.  The show will run until June 26.

I had the chance to talk with van Minnen about his work, past and present, as well as ask him about his recent sabbatical in Mexico City:

Samantha Levin: These new works you’ve created have some surprising elements to them – things I’m not used to seeing often in your work, the Mickey Mouse hat in Abstract Figurative Series 2.3 being the only exception I know of. These new elements (stars, rainbows, hearts, etc.) are much more Pop Surreal than your earlier work, and contrast wildly with your usual nod to master oil paintings of eras past. What inspired this new direction?

Christian Rex van Minnen: That’s funny you mentioned my little pony and lucky charms; early 80s cartoons and advertising campaigns like these (I would also add care bears, rainbow bright, maybe he-man) are certainly a part of the headwaters of inspiration for this latest evolution, I think. Before leaving for mexico city and during my three months there i began scrapbooking these elements from litter and used newsweek, teen magazines, etc. These graphic elements, representing Abstractions of natural phenomenon, and hybridization of those natural phenomenon with human virtues, values, notions of divinity, etc, began to appeal to me as forms and ambiguous objects. Those things (shooting rainbows, stars, hearts, etc) are a certain kind of form, at once organic and ‘real’ and also capable of transcending their iterations throughout recent pop-cultural history. In my previous works it was through the chimerical juxtaposition of flora and fauna, representational or preternatural, that seemed to carve out that space to allow a certain tension and harmony between beauty and horror to exist. In thinking about that polarity, I began to think of expanding the scope of form and concept to include other elements from our 21st century lives. These graphic abstractions, usually overlooked or seen as a supporting cast for the product or message, when removed from their original context can provide a parallax view of the commonly understood pairs of opposites: beauty/horror, light/dark, love/hate, joy/fear, abstract/figurative. Black and white becomes more of an ambivalent Seussian gray goo.

Still Life 1.6, Oil on Canvas, 23.5 x 20”

SL: As a person who watched too many Saturday morning cartoons back in the 80s, I have to correct your spelling of Rainbow Brite (I make no apologies to anyone who clicks that link). Not sure why their wise marketing teams decided to spell it wrong, but it certainly stuck in my confused head all these years. But, yes, these new elements bring up almost a synesthetic response in me that tastes and smells of chewy candy, feels like smooth plastic and probably sounds a bit like the Brady Bunch theme song. Juxtaposed against your more lush and grotesque imagery, I experience a strong parallax shift and my visual language is altered. This is one of the things I enjoy most about visual art.

CvM: Oh, ‘brite’, good to know, sort of. In what circumstance would you use ‘nite’ or ‘lite’? Yeah, it reminds me of the smell of new toys, cigarette smoke and cat piss.

SL: Glad to provide some enlightenment to your day.  In an earlier interview that you did with My Love For You is a Stampede of Horses you said this about the symbolism in your work, “i have started to be more open to mixing representational images into compositions that are also inhabited by forms derived from abstraction. it makes the believability of the latter more accessible. … i am not being didactic in painting; there is no symbolism here.” It’s hard to think that this is still the case with Rainbow Blight. Perhaps it’s the title of the exhibition that’s steering my perception this way. Can you tell me a little more about your stream of consciousness style and how it worked with these new paintings? What has changed or grown?

CvM: Interesting question. I would still say that I am not utilizing symbolism. Ideally, the essence of these forms transcends any symbolic reading into them. That’s certainly true of the flora and fauna. Because the context of the advertisement that utilizes the stars and hearts and rainbows sort fills these ambiguous forms with meaning (for example flat butterflies and stars and flowers in a feminine hygiene ad gives those forms a certain aire of cleanliness, innocence and purity) an interesting thing occurs when they are born into something more ambiguous and horrible. The term ‘rainbow blight’ is something I thought of to describe the new works, not necessarily to define them. To anyone raised in 1980s visual culture, the play on “rainbow bright” is obvious. You bring up interesting questions though that I haven’t considered until now: are these stars, hearts, rainbows symbols or icons? Their meaning is ambiguous and transitory within the context of advertisement or entertainment but their essential meaning is more iconic, transcendent, abstract and perhaps suggestive of divinity within us and outside of us. Just throw a rainbow of that sausage, see what happens. Curious little things.

SL: While your paintings aren’t intended to make statements, do stories or ideas come to mind as the imagery evolves?

CvM: Sure, but only post-rationally, like coming up with a title. I get certain feelings, or I should say I will follow a certain feeling, usually an uncomfortable one. It’s kind of gross, and beautiful. The only message I can conclusively put out there is this notion of oneness of beauty and horror. Accepting this, I believe, gives one a certain grace in life. Not saying I’m enlightened or anything, but I do recognize it as an essential truth.

Pear With Stars, oil on canvas, 11 x 14″

SL: I’ve been using the term Neo-Grotesque frequently lately to describe the work of several artists including you, Dan Ouellette, Scott Holloway, Carrie Ann Baade and Kris Kuksi amongst others. How do you feel about this term? Is it too limiting or could it be helpful?

CvM: I’ve thought about that a lot since we began using the term. It definitely can be limiting owing to the fact that the definition of the term can be fuzzy and calcified, like a tooth collecting flocking under a couch. The first ‘grotesque’ artwork done in early roman ‘grottos’ was decorative and chimerical and i don’t think they would’ve used the term to describe their artworks, so not sure about the “neo” part either. If one understands grotesque as a synonymous with ‘chimerical’, then I would say that it’s an accurate description of my work. The problem with most contemporary usage of the term grotesque is that we link it with ‘disgusting’ or ‘gross.’ This happens to be very revealing about our contemporary notion of what is beautiful. While ‘chimerical’ is a more objective and descriptive term, grotesque in it’s subjectivity and history helps to understand the conceptual aspect of my works. Anyway, sure, call it neo grotesque.

SL: The scrapbooking you mentioned earlier – is that purely used as reference material or is there a bit of art-making going on there as well?

CvM: Not really an art object but I like to show it around. I will definitely keep doing it, but I will have my wife buy me the teen girl mags so I don’t get arrested or something.

Marketplace, oil on canvas, 24 x 36″

SL: Tell me about this long trip you and your wife made to Mexico City recently. I’ve heard that it is both an inspiring and dangerous place. What initially brought you there and what did you find during your stay?

CvM: We were in Mexico City for a little more than three months. I’ve known and worked with mexico city based artist Rodrigo Cifuentes for a while and he helped me to find a studio there, as well as showing me around the city, introducing me to a great group of artists there, and sharing his favorite al pastor tortas place with me. We lived in Coyoacan, a small little ‘colonia’ engulfed in the insanity that is Mexico city. My studio was also in coyoacan, not to far from Frida Kahlo‘s blue house and Trotskys house. It was on the fifth floor across the street from an overpass and would actually sway, not shake, but sway, making detail work an interesting challenge. The visual environment can be overwhelming there, but fertile nonetheless. It seemed that the graphic design culture was a bit more elemental and colorful and this just set me off. It was perfect, serendipitous timing for the evolution of my work. It’s definitely still with me.

SL: The trip sounds wonderful – an experience that every artist should have. I am a huge fan of Cifuentes’ work and am not surprised that you know him. His paintings are phenomenal – I hope to get the chance to see them in person some day. Did you do any kind of collaborative work or are you more comfortable with working on your own?

CvM: I am ok with collaboration if it works. I am doing some collaboration with My friend Ray Young Chu right now. We work really well together and laugh a lot which is rare.

SL: Thank you very much for the interview, Christian! I wish I could be out on the west coast to see your work up close!!  Good luck with the exhibit.

A Movement or a Mole Hill? by dezzoster
June 14, 2009, 1:49 pm
Filed under: Art Critiques | Tags: , ,

I’ve always had a genuine interest in the grotesque – beauty is in the mistakes. Now trying to sculpt this fascination into practical knowledge; reeducating myself through history and applying it to the arts. My mind wants to make grotesque a movement. What? I mean, It has been around for CENTURIES!