ARTPICKS | Cosmopolite Style
As a curator I am intellectually curious about many topics, but my aesthetic preference is rather particular. I call my signature look — Cosmopolite Style — a mixing and remixing of cultural history in a contemporary frame. I am attracted to bold POV’s. Artists that help me see the world through a larger lens will always catch my eye.
Here are five global artists who embody the essence of Cosmopolite Style.
I enjoy artists who dive into global affairs because they offer a fresh perspective on clichéd news headlines. Iranian born Shiva Ahmadi’s interest in the power dynamics of oil production, and its role in destabilizing Middle Eastern societies, is heady material. Her stunning jewel-toned works, a modern interpretation of Persian miniature painting, do not scream politics; yet include a sharp critique of international conflicts. In one series, Shiva painted on oil barrels mixing traditional decorative patterns, Swarovski crystals with symbols of violence and conflict. I see these works as visual manifestos of contemporary oil politics, which bring jewels and glamour to some, and death and destruction to others.
Gert + Uwe Tobias
In a sign of our times, Romanian born twins Gert and Uwe Tobias combine socialist realism, European folklore, and modernist color abstraction with a Transylvanian twist. Their large-scale carnivalesque panels beautifully merge traditional technique with subversive content. Working together since 2001, the twins have created a fantastical world all their own by dissolving boundaries between craft and fine art, abstract art and fantasy. I am particularly drawn to their giant woodcuts that blend modernist geometric abstraction with the narrative quality of folk art.
Adriana’s works are also theatrical, mixing elements of fantasy, realism, and even advertising with Hitchcockian undertones. Using classic portraiture as a reference point for her social critiques, Adriana addresses the obsession with European heritage in her native Colombia. Her carefully staged photographs can feel oppressive as she depicts social aspiration vs. reality. The veneer of sweetness depicted by angelic subjects, make the sinister actions lurking outside the frame feel both wrong and alluring.
I enjoy the intimate works by Shay Bredimus, a renowned tattoo artist and figurative painter. Shay skillfully mixes his training in classic portraiture with aesthetic influences from Japanese tattoo and Ukiyo-e prints. After surviving a traumatic brain injury at age 10, the visual became Shay’s first language. His ink-based paintings are elegant and slightly melancholic. I was immediately drawn to Shay’s series Kotomi, “the beauty of cities” in Japanese, in which he creates female personifications of Los Angeles’s 25 Sister Cities. From Athens, to Mumbai, to Yerevan, Shay modernizes allegorical female representations in an art form first popularized in Ancient Rome.
Sherin could be the poster artist for Cosmopolite Style. Cairo born, Los Angeles dwelling, her works navigate the duality of her existence in form and spirit. Arabic ornamentation is juxtaposed with Western minimalist aesthetics, artfully mixing past and present. Her mixed media paintings feature hand-cut ornamentation with psychedelic Kool-Aid colors that pulsate. Blending bold creative expression and technical precision, Sherin’s hybridity speaks to our dual roles as individuals and community members.
That is it for today. I will be back soon with more art discoveries from around the globe. In the meantime, let me know which artist you would love to bring home.