Criminally Underrated Contemporary Visual Artists: Volume II

Welcome back to the second episode of this series, where I talk about five of my favorite artists to show my support for their art and craft.

We’re approaching King’s Day here in the Netherlands, which means that we will be seeing a lot of orange soon.

But before that, check out these amazing artists and make sure to follow them on social media!

Kazuhiro Hori (Japanese)

Kazuhiro Hori | “Spell” | Acrylic,silver foil on canvas | 30 x 60 cm | 2020

At first glance, Kazuhiro Hori’s works have an innocent and child-like feel, and it’s not difficult to see why.

Her subjects are primarily teenage schoolgirls in different poses: schoolgirls surrounded by sweet stuff; schoolgirls devoured by candy monsters; schoolgirls admiring butterflies and fishes floating around them. The dominant color in almost every artwork is pink, which reinforces the femininity and innocence of Kazuhiro’s girls.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much about the artist’s background, but just admire her paintings for yourself and try to find all the interpretations that you can see in them:

Credits: @chardinchardin / Instagram
Credits: @chardinchardin / Instagram
Credits: @chardinchardin / Instagram

Instagram: @chardinchardin

Andrew Hem (Cambodian-American)

Credits: @andrewhem / Instagram

LA-based artist Andrew Hem certainly bases most of his artistic production on his cultural heritage.

The son of Cambodian immigrants, Andrew’s art, heavily influenced by graffiti, portrays wide groups of people, sometimes spotlighting one figure looking at the viewer. His surreal palette of colors contrasts with the very humanitarian-inspired scenes that recall the struggle of seeking refuge as an immigrant. You can read more about his technique on his Artsy page.

Credits: @andrewhem / Instagram
Credits: @andrewhem / Instagram
Credits: @andrewhem / Instagram

Andrew holds a B.F.A. from the Art Center College of Art and Design and has been exhibiting since 2007 in the US and Europe. He created various collections which can be all found on his website.

Website: http://www.andrewhem.com

Instagram: @andrewhem

Rafael Silveira (Brazilian, 1978)

Rafael Silveira | “Lady in a Garden with Exotic Birds” | Oil on canvas | 2020

If Bubblegum Pop had a visual representation, it would be embodied in Rafael Silveira’s art.

The Brazilian artist has been creating surrealist, food-inspired art for years–also commissioning custom-made frames matching the aesthetic he’s going for. Though drawing inspiration from nature and animals, all of his paintings are very human-centered: it’s also interesting to notice how, especially in his latest work, his human subjects are represented without a face.

Credits: @rafael_silveira_art / Instagram
Credits: @rafael_silveira_art / Instagram

Though his style might be considered “feminine” by some, it’s curious to see how Rafael is putting some of the vibrancy of Brazilian culture into his paintings, overcoming gender norms of what is considered “masculine” and what isn’t.

Credits: @rafael_silveira_art / Instagram
Credits: @rafael_silveira_art / Instagram

Website: http://www.rafaelsilveira.com

Instagram: @rafael_silveira_art

Karin Iwabuchi (Japanese, 1985)

Karin Iwabuchi | “Drink my tears” | 2013

Based in Japan and represented by Gallery Tsubaki, Karin Iwabuchi’s art might look like a more somber version of Kazuhiro’s.

Just like her fellow artist, Karin’s subjects are all young women and girls in dreamy, evanescent poses. The difference, however, stands in how they’re presented: in black and white–or should I say, an unbearably blinding shade of white that makes the figures appear divine, almost.

Credits: @karin_iwabuchi / Instagram
Credits: @karin_iwabuchi / Instagram

Sometimes, the lighter shades of black might melt into other colors, but these are in no way dominant. Other striking elements are the flowers, sometimes covering the girls’ faces, sometimes even coming out of their mouths or floating around their heads.

It’s this tender “anomaly” that attracts me to her art–as I’m sure many others.

Credits: @karin_iwabuchi / Instagram

Website: http://www.iwabuchikarin.com

Instagram: @karin_iwabuchi

Marion Peck (American, 1963)

Credits: @marionpeck / Instagram

Last but not least, Marion Peck is a household name in contemporary surrealism.

The Oregon-based godmother of progressive surrealism has an extensive curriculum: whether it’s a painting or a sketch, her style is immediately recognizable.

Credits: @marionpeck / Instagram
Credits: @marionpeck / Instagram

Some works might portray a bucolic landscape with weird-looking people; others might be women with unconventional teeth (also classified as “ugly”); others might be grotesquely cute animals you’re not sure how to feel about.

But perhaps her most iconic (and political) artwork is “Fuck the Patriarchy,” depicting an empowered Madonna stepping on a baby Donald Trump:

Credits: @marionpeck / Instagram

Married to another revolutionary contemporary freak, Mark Ryden, Marion will be shaping the dichotomy between art and feminism for years to come.

Instagram: @marionpeck


Cover image credits: Rafael Silveira | “Mind the Gap” | Oil on canvas | 2020

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