Elijah Burgher

The Artwork of Elijah Burgher

Born in Kingston, New York in 1978, Elijah Burgher is an American artist who produces both figurative and abstract colored pencil drawings, paintings and prints of sigils. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and his Master of Fine Arts at Chicago’s Art Institute. Burgher currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His work is represented by the Horton Gallery in Dallas, New York’s contemporary PPOW Gallery, and Western Exhibitions in Chicago. 

In his work, Elijah Burgher uses ideas from occult and magic traditions to address queer sexuality, sub-cultural formations, and the history of abstraction. He also creates sigils, symbols of magical power, inspired by different esoteric systems, including the works of English illustrator and occultist Austin Osman Spare, who trained as a draughtsman at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington. Burgher’s sigils encode symbols of wishes and desires through their shape, and the compositions of their elements and color.

Burghers colored pencil drawings of nude male figures, often featuring images of friends,  illustrate scenes from his daily life and environment. Acting as ritual relics, they have an erotic quality that anchors their abstract components into reality. 

Elijah Burgher had solo exhibitions of his work in several galleries including the 2018 “Nudes in  the Forest” at the Ivan Gallery in Bucharest, Romania; “Bachelors” at New York’s Zieher Smith and Horton Gallery in 2016; and “Elijah Burgher, Topple the Table of Correspondences’ in 2011 at 2nd Floor Projects in San Francisco, among others. As a resident artist at Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Burgher has had several solo exhibitions in its gallery from 2012 to 2020. 

Burgher has also shown his work in multiple group exhibitions from 2000 to 2021, including the 2014 Gwangin Biennial, Asia’s most important contemporary art exhibition which was held in the Republic of Korea; New York City’s 2014 Whitney Biennial; “The Temptation of AA Bronson” exhibition held in 2013 at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Netherlands; the 2020 “intimacy: New Queer Art from Berlin and Beyond” held at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland; and “Secret Language” held in 2021 at the Ivan Gallery in Bucharest, among others.

In 2011, Elijah Burgher held a Residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in New York City and a Fire Island Artist Residency in Long Island, New York.

Note: an interview with Elijah Burgher can be found at the Inside/Within web art archive located at: http://insidewithin.com/elijah-burgher/

Elijah Burgher’s works can be found at the P.P.O.W. Gallery site located at https://www.ppowgallery.com/artists/elijah-burgher#tab:thumbnails

Bottom Insert Image: Elijah Burgher,, “Bachelor with Demons (Sleezy)”, 2015, Colored Pencil on Paper

Denis Forkas

The Paintings of Denis Forkas

Born in 1977 in Kamyshin, a town on the Volga river, Denis Forkas Kostromitin is a Russian painter whose work explores religious and mythological symbolism in the tradition of ancient Mediterranean art. The son of a military officer, his childhood years were spent in various remote regions of the Soviet states. Forkas’s early nomadic existence with its isolation and lack of comforts led to self-education in artistic training and numerous sensory deprivation experiences, which later had a major impact on his artwork.

With little stimulus from the austere Soviet environment, Forkas eagerly consumed literature on the esoteric worlds of Egyptian and Greek mysticism and mythology. After the iron curtain’s collapse in 1991, new translations of literary works, including the esoteric writings of English occultist Aleister Crowley and French author Eliphas Levi, entered the Soviet states. Forkas studied these new volumes and the literature written by Western philosophers, which became available in the mid-1990s.

After the economic boom in the new century, Denis Forkas frequently visited China as a journalist, interpreter, and commercial representative. After meeting several painting masters in China, he was able to receive formal training for three years in traditional Eastern painting techniques, including those of the Xieyl and Gongbi art forms. 

Xieyl is a genre of Chinese traditional painting worked on xuan paper that uses either ink or layers of watercolor. This genre includes works of calligraphy, poem, painting and seal, of which freehand painting is the most influential and popular. Gongbi is a careful, realistic technique of Chinese painting, often highly-colored, that is worked  on xuan paper. This method uses highly-detailed brushstrokes that delineate details very precisely without interpretation or free expression on the part of the artist.

After leaving China, Forkas settled in Moscow to concentrate on his career path as a professional artist. His early work was inspired by German Expressionism and the late nineteenth-century Symbolist movement, which emphasized the reality of the created paint surface itself. These paintings by Forkas were influenced by the early abstract, experimental works of Wassily Kandinsky that, in an immediate way, were an expression of Kandinsky’s inner feelings.

Denis Forkas’s new work, still in the artistic traditions of ancient Near East civilizations, draw their inspiration from early Renaissance and  seventeenth-century Dutch paintings. Drifting away from the earlier predominant symbolist style, Forkas’s paintings became influenced by the works of Belgian painter Fernand Khnopff, who carried symbolism’s recurring themes into his portraits, and Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel, whose paintings in the latter portion of his life displayed a glowing, otherworldly mosaic effect that fit within the Byzantine tradition.

Since 2007, Forkas has privately taught the techniques of painting and drawing to students and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, including the October 2014 Image Show in London. Forkas has produced many drawings and paintings that have been featured as album covers for international music releases. Currently living and working in Moscow, he has contributed both work and an interview for the esoteric publisher Fulgur Press.

Contact information and a small gallery of work by Forkas can be found at his website located at: www.denisforkas.com

For those interested, a list of album cover art by Denis Forkas can be found at the Encyclopaedia Mettalum site located at: https://www.metal-archives.com/artists/Denis_Forkas_Kostromitin/436114

Second Insert Image: Denis Forkas, “The Hanged Man / Gift of Prometheus”, 2017, Acrylics and Gilding on Paper, 41.5 x 29.5 cm

Third Insert Image: Denis Forkas, “Saglokratlok II”, 2017, Ink and Gouache on Paper, 24.1 x 18.5 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Denis Forkas, “Between Two Worlds (Study for a Recurring Dream of Ichor Baptism Fashioned as a Portico Fresco Cartoon)”, 2016, Acrylics on Paper on Hardboard, 23.7 x 22.5 cm

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach

Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, “Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead)”, ca 1905, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 150 cm, Private Collection

The son of a painter and teacher, Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach was born in the city of Hadamar, Germany,  in February of 1851. He received his initial training in the arts from his father Leonard Diefenbach, but also worked as a design draftsman for several photo studios and a railroad construction company. In 1872, Diefenbach traveled to Munich where he gained employment with Hanfstaengel, a photography publishing house, and entered the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, under historical painter Wilhelm Lindenschmit the Younger. In his studies, he became inspired by the Symbolist movement, particularly by the works of Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin.

Stricken with typhus in 1873, Diefenbach began to develop an increasing interest in alternative lifestyles. After having a visionary experience, he founded the alternative community Humanitas in an abandoned stone quarry near Höllriegelskreuth, located nineteen kilometers south of Munich. This community was centered on a return to nature, the rejection of religion, a basic vegetarian diet, and the end of monogamy. In 1887, Symbolist painter and illustrator Hugo Höppener, known as Fidus, joined the community and, with Karl Diefenbach, worked on the sixty-eight meter, monumental silhouette frieze entitled “Per Aspera ad Astra”. 

An oddity in the era due to his lifestyle, Karl Diefenbach, after repeated conflict with his social surroundings including local authorities, accepted the invitation of Salzburg’s Art Association and relocated with his family to Vienna.  While in Vienna, he met and taught the Czech abstractionist painter and graphic artist Frantiek Kupka. Diefenbach’s  unorthodox lifestyle forced a second relocation; this time he traveled to Egypt where his work focused on the ancient ruins and temples of the land. Returning to Vienna in 1897, he founded a country commune, Himmelhof, near Vienna, which disbanded after two years.

Despite the many exhibitions of his work, Karl Diefenbach was not successful commercially, which forced him to declare bankruptcy. He traveled to Italy in 1900 and settled on the island of Capri where he exhibited his works to visitors for a small fee, explained his philosophy of life, and sold small versions of his major works. The years Diefenbach spent on Capri were the most productive of his life. He produced many large scale depictions of the island’s landscapes, most  were scenes of grottos and cliffs, but all were  infused with reflections on his inner searching.

The Symbolist painter Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach died on the island of Capri in December of 1913. After years of obscurity, his work was honored in a successful 2009 exhibition held at Villa Stuck in Munich, and two years later at the Hermes Villa in Vienna. A museum of his work was founded in 1974 in Certosa di San Giacomo on Capri, and many of his works can be seen in the Jack Daulton Collection in Los Altos Hills, California.

Note: Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach’s 1905 “Isle of the Dead” was inspired by the famous painting of the same name by the Swiss symbolist artist Arnold Böcklin, whose work Diefenbach held in much esteem.

Arnold Böcklin painted five versions of his “Isle of the Dead” between 1880 and 1901. He provided no explanation for the painting’s image; the title was not specified by Böcklin, but was given by the art dealer Fritz Gurlitt in 1883. The inspiration for it was evoked, in part, by the landscape of the English Cemetery in Florence, Italy, where Böcklin resided for many years.

Top Insert Image:  Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, Der Rettung Entgegen, 1900, Oil on Canvas, 65.5 x 90.5 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert mage:  Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, The Great Sphinx of Giza, 1903, Oil on Canvas, 240 x 335 cm, Private Collection

Salomon-Léon Sarluis

The Artwork of Salomon-Léon Sarluis

Born in the Hague in October of 1874, French painter Salomon-Léon Sarluis, known as Léonard Sarluis, studied at the École des Beaux-Arts before moving to Paris in 1884 where he became a well known figure on its boulevards. He was a student of the French Symbolist painter Armand Point and of the French novelist Élémir Bourges, who was strongly linked with the Decadent and Symbolist movements in literature. Sarluis was also associated with the openly gay poet Jean Lorrain, who is remembered for his contributions to the satirical weekly Le Courrier Français and his Decadent novels and short stories.

Léonard Sarluis traveled widely throughout Italy, visiting Naples, and Russia. Upon his return to Paris, he exhibited at the Salon de la Rose Croix and the Salon des Artistes Français, and at a number of other Parisian galleries. With designer Armand Point, Sarluis created the poster for the fifth exhibition at the Salon des Artistes Français, depicting Perseus holding the severed head of  novelist Émile Zola, who was rejected by the Symbolists for his Naturalist social commentary. 

Working under the influence of Point, Léonard Sarluis combined a technique inspired by the Old Masters with a style that was sensual and very modern. He liked to work on a grand scale, and his monumental “Nero”, exhibited at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, was greatly admired by muralist painter Puvis de Chavannes. In 1919 Sarluis had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim, one of the oldest galleries in Pairs and a leader in avant-garde art. 

In 1923, Sarluis produced illustrations based on novelist Gaston Pavloski’s 1912 mystical “Voyage to the Land of the Fourth Dimension”. For a number of years, Sarluis worked on a series of three hundred-sixty paintings entitled “A Mystical Interpretation of the Bible”, which were shown at the Grafton Galleries in London in 1926. 

Léonard Sarluis’s inspiration was emblematic of a turn of the century that combined nostalgia for an imagined past, decadent themes and sometimes cloudy mysticism. A provocative character and dandy, and a friend of Oscar Wilde, Salomon-Léon Sarluis died in 1949 in Paris.

Ludwig von Hofmann

Ludwig von Hofmann, “Die Quelle (The Source)”, 1913, Oil on Canvas, Thomas Mann Archives, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

A member of the avant-garde group “Eleven”, Ludwig von Hofmann was an active participant in the cultural movement “Berlin Succession”. He taught at the art school in Weimar, located in central Germany, and at the Dresden Academy of Arts, where he directed a course in monumental painting. Von Hoffman was a frequent illustrator for the arts and literary magazine “Pan”, which played an important role in the development of the Art Nouveau movement in Germany. 

Working in a combination of Symbolist and Art Nouveau styles, Ludwig von Hofmann’s paintings included antique and biblical themes, and idyllic landscapes inhabited by surreal or mythological creatures. His work aspired to portray beauty in form, using unique and strong color combinations, and often presented a veiled eroticism in its figures.  Von Hofmann’s symbolist work is both decorative and idealized, with verdant forests, blossoming fields, and naked or clothed figures whose skin or flowing garments are lit by the sun. 

In 1903, von Hofmann was appointed a professor at the Weimar Saxon Grand Ducal Art School. He was later named a Professor at the Academy of Arts in Dresden in 1916, remaining there until 1931. In his later years, von Hofmann predominately worked in the Art Nouveau style, producing engravings and illustrations, and designing libraries, residential rooms and theaters. 

The production of Ludwig von Hofmann’s work slowed in the 1930s, with some of his work labeled “degenerate art’ by the National Socialist Party in 1937. He retired to the town of Pillnitz, a section of east Dresden, where he died in August of 1945. 

Jan de Clerck

Jan de Clerck, “De vermoeide Winden (The Tired Winds)”, 1937, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Born in Ostend, Belgium, Jan de Clerck studied briefly with the painter Camille Payen in Brussels, but was, for the most part, self-taught. He was much influenced by the exhibitions organized by the group La Libre Esthétique, and his first paintings date from the late 1890s. Quickly gaining in confidence and ability, De Clerck first exhibited his paintings in 1905.

Jan de Clerck developed an original technique of a sort of elongated pointillism of striped brushstrokes, producing landscapes and seascapes tinged with a Symbolist aesthetic. He often worked in mixed media, dragging the paint with short vertical strokes in order to build up the surface of the picture. This individual technique De Clerck made virtually his own: much of his best work up to 1920 is painted in this way.

A period of exile from Belgium during World War I, found De Clerke painting landscapes and camouflage, taking part in local exhibitions, and befriending such artists as Frank Brangwyn. After the war, Jan de Clerck returned to Ostend where his reputation continued to grow. He experimented with new techniques, often mixing pastel and watercolour, which he called ‘aquapastel’, to create the luminous effects he sought.

Further exhibitions of De Clerck’s work in Ostend, Liège and Ghent, as well as the publication of a book of reproductions of his work in 1928, served to advance his reputation. After 1933, however, there were no major exhibitions of De Clerck’s work for almost twenty years. His output began to decline, and he began to focus mainly on seascapes, always his favourite subject.

F. Scott Hess

 

F. Scott Hess, Unknown Title, Oil on Canvas, (Catch of the Day)

F. Scott Hess, “Light,” 2005, Oil on Canvas

Born in Baltimore, longtime Los Angeles artist F. Scott Hess attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria, and Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, earning a BSA from the University of Wisconsin in 1977. In 1979, Hess moved to Vienna, Austria, where he studied for five years with the Austrian painter Rudolf Hausner, who has been credited as the first psychoanalytical painter. Through his artistic teaching experience in Vienna, Hess gained greater exposure to techniques of old master style painting, which profoundly influenced his work.

F. Scott Hess  has been described as a “New Old Master”. His narrative portraiture blends realistic scenes of everyday life with symbolic and allegorical events, humor, eroticism, and voyeurism. He begins with drawings and careful diagramming on his canvases before adding traditional oil paint or egg tempera. Hess’s works are defined by his strong brushwork, careful attention to the luminosity of flesh, and ability to capture ethereal light.

Martin Wittfooth

Martin Wittfooth, “Bacchanal”, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 78 x 60 Inches

Martin Wittfooth was born in 1981 in Toronto, Canada. He spent his childhood in Finland, before moving back to Canada as a teenager. It was in Toronto that he earned his BAA in illustration at Sheridan College in 2003. Wittfooth then moved to New York City where he received his MFA at the School of Visual Arts.

In his recent works, Wittfooth explores the ancient art of shamanism and the current renaissance it is enjoying around the globe. The optimism which emanates from his new works is a product of Wittfooth’s gradual uncovering of enlightening shamanic practices, which he has observed as holding the power to break us free fromthe status quo and the dark path it has lead us down.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, “He Xie (River Crab)”, 2010, Porcelain

The installation “He Xie” consists of 3,200 porcelain crab sculptures. They were created after Chinese authorities ransacked and destroyed Weiwei’s studio in 2010. Following that event, a feast of real river crabs was hosted by Weiwei, who was unable to attend, due to his house arrest. The term “He Xie” is a homophone for “harmonious” in Chinese and has also become a term for internet censorship.

Saturnino Herrán Guinchard

Saturnino Herrán Guinchard, “Our Ancient Gods”, 1916, Oil on Canvas, Collection of Andrés Blaisten

Saturnino Herrán Guinchard, a Mexican painter, began studying drawing and painting with José Inés Tovilla and Severo Amador. He later studied with teachers Julio Ruelas, Fabrés Antonio Catalan, Leandro Izaguirre and Germán Gedovious.

Guinchard’s work is mainly inspired by pre-Columbian Mexico with its folk customsand the lifestyles of its people. His figures have been associated with the traditions of Spanish art, particularly Catalan Modernism, along with the work of Velázquez and José de Rivera. The works of Saturnino Herran includes the paintings: “Labor and Work”, “Mill and Marketers”, and “Legend of the Volcanos”. Guinchard also painted the “Creole” Series and the triptych “Our Ancient Gods”, which includes the image above.

Martin Copertari

Martin Copertari, “As Lovers Went By”, 2013, Lithograph Composed of Collage of Etchings with Gouache, Dimensions Unknown

A Briton who lived in Barcelona, Martin Copertari made collages using images from the Victorian era. He often used a gravure printing technique, which he did by hand. The collages are all hand made with original etchings from 19th century publications, lithographic prints from the early 20th century and retouched with gouache.

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Nahum B Zenil

Nahum B. Zenil, “Angel-Demonio”, 1991, Oil and Ink on Heavy Paper, 72 x 52 cm.

Nahum B. Zenil is a Mexican artist who often uses his own self-portrait as the principal model for a cultural critical interpretation of Mexico, especially concerning homosexuality and mestization. His art is often compared to that of Frida Kahlo, in which the self becomes the principal object of their paintings letting the viewer discover the artists as individualsas well as the broader social and cutural aspects of their work.

Born in the state of Veracruz, Zenil enrolled in 1959 at the Escuela nacional de Maestros in Mexico City from which he graduated in 1964. He later entered the Escula Nacional de Pinture y Escultura in 1966. Zenil is one of the founding members of the Serman Cultural Gay Festival which occurs yearly at the Museum of the University of Chopo.

Sigmar Polke

Sigmar Polke, “Kandinsdingsda”, 1976, Gouache, Acrylic and Collage on Paper Mounted on Canvas, Artist’s Estate

Sigmar Polke was born in Oels, an east German region, in 1941. His family soon fled to west Germany in 1953, settling in Dusseldorf where Polke studied at the Dusseldorf Art Academy between the years 1961 and 1967. While still in school, Polke, along with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Fischer, founded the Captialist Realism movement.

The Capitalist Realism movement incorporated aspects of American Pop Art’s interest in consumer and popular imagery with abstraction and an emphasis on a progressive use of mediums. The movement also instilled into their works satirical commentary about consumerism, the political climate in Germany at the time: the movement’s name was a play on the Russian art movement of Socialist Realism.

Polke’s artistic practice embraced and incorporated mistakes such as drips, tears, and copy printing errors into his paintings. His experimentation with photography in the 1970s intentionally disregarded the standard rules: dropping the wrong chemicals onto the paper, turning on the light during development, brushing the developer on selectively, using exhausted fixer. Polke would then use these ‘mistakes’ to explore his interest in abstract pictorial space.

Polke’s irreverence for classical artistic practices made for an innovative and stylistically uncategorizable body of work that used photography and printed materials as source material, silkscreened layers on top of painterly expanses, chemical substances and other non-art materials within a collage-like aesthetic.

Giovanni Gasparro

Giovanni Gasparro, La Visione di San Giovanni a Patmos”, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 325 x 180 cm.

Giovanni Gasparro was born in Bari in southern Italy in 1983. He graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in 2007, as a pupil of the painter Giuseppe Modica, with a thesis in art history on the Roman stay of Van Dyck. Gasparro’s first solo exhibition in Paris was in 2009.

In 2011, the Arcidiocesis of L’Aquila commissioned him to paint nineteen works of art between the altar and the altarpiece for the Basilica of San Giuseppe Artigiano, which was damaged by the earthquake of 2009. This collection of works constitutes the largest painting cycle of sacred art made in recent years.

In 2012 Gasparro made the “Anomalia with the Largillière’s Hat” for the Costa Fascinosa, Europe’s largest cruise ship, in the Costa Crociere fleet. In 2013 he won the Bioethics Art Competition of UNESCO’s Bioethics and Human Rights Chair with his work “Casti Connubii”, inspired by Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical. The following year, with “Quum Memoranda”, a portrait of Pope Pius VII, Gasparro won the Pio Alferano Prize.

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Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey, “Obey Lotus Crescent”, Date Unknown, Limited Edition of 75

Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary street artist, graphic designer, illustrator and founder of OBEY Clothing wh emerged from the skateboarding scene. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1982 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.