ARTisSpectrum | Volume 29 |
uban-born, North Carolina-based artist
Felix Semper
strange and surreal spaces inhabited by human characters at
once fantastical and deeply empathetic. Their stylized and altered
features alternately evoke Picasso’s Cubist portraits and Egon
Schiele’s emaciated early Expressionist nudes, though Semper
tends to substitute rounded lines for those forbears’ geometric
contours and features. Many of the resulting images manage to be
simultaneously playful and sober, their loopy, rounded characters,
rendered in oil pastel or charcoal, standing out against ambiguous,
dim or empty backdrops often made up of fragments of other
bodies. There’s a palpable sense of melancholy in many of the works
that stands in stark contrast to the figures’ apparent exuberance
and Semper’s often bold palette.
The powerful symbolism of his paintings suggests many possible
interpretations, from a desire for calm in an increasingly chaotic
environment, to the universally relatable experience of being
an outsider in a new and strange place. “I find myself applying a
particular painting style depending on my mood or a particular
message I want to relate,” Semper explains. Indeed, each piece has
a very immediate emotional charge echoed in the formal play of
textures, tones and forms.
Mascara Thoughts Oil on Canvas 20” x 16”
Felix Semper
A (“Trygve Amundsen”)
calls his work “semi-
abstract.” Blending natural details into starkly graphic
environments, he creates a world that sits on the border
between abstraction and representation. Having worked
as an art director and graphic designer, TA has a keen eye
for proportion and scale, creating images that direct the
viewer’s eye and possess a clear dramatic focus. A flower
may dissolve into a field of color, or a solitary apple seem
to sit forlornly in a monochromatic landscape. “I love to add
either a dynamic movement or total melancholy into my
work,” he says, “in a manner that makes the spectator think
and live with my art.”
But the artist’s interest in crossing boundaries goes beyond
his mixture of realism and abstraction. Working mostly in
oil paints on canvas, he uses some unconventional tools to
apply those paints, including a shopping bag and a credit
card. The resulting images have a wide variety of textures,
creating a sense of depth and giving his canvases a strong
physical presence. A color palette of reds, blacks and grays
lends those images clarity and precision that adds to their
power. “I hate it if my art disappears on the walls,” says TA, and the strength of his images definitely precludes that.
The Red Rose Oil on Canvas 39.5” x 39.5”
TA (“Trygve Amundsen”)
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