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Pulse Contemporary Art Fair 2019

 
 
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Liz Tran

Julia Marchand

Julia Marchand

Julia Marchand

Born in Boston, and raised in Los Angeles, Julia Marchand developed a passion for travel and an interest in the arts at a young age. By the time she left home for college she had already visited six countries where she, along with her father, two siblings and artist mother visited every museum they could find. 

 

Marchand earned her BA in Art History from American University in Washington DC. During her time in DC she became politically active, lending her considerable energy to a variety of causes including gender equality and animal rights. She was involved in PeTA’s controversial and highly successful “I’d rather go naked than wear fur campaign” and has participated in protests from DC to Moscow, including marching au naturel in Tokyo. 

 

After college, Marchand established a successful commercial photography business shooting portraiture and documenting the LA music scene. Her images were featured in numerous independent and mainstream publications. She also spent time as an “El Vette,” singing back up vocals for El Vez, the Mexican Elvis. 

 

Yearning for a more personal means of creative expression, Marchand applied to, and was accepted by, the Fine Arts program at San Francisco Art Institute where she studied painting and drawing. There she developed her signature multi-layered faux naïve style and found new ways to communicate her concerns for the natural world through painting. She began exhibiting her paintings and works on paper, which have been shown in galleries and museums in London, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Mexico City. 

 

While raising her own children, Marchand became aware of her innate ability to develop educational experiences for young learners and help them develop their own artistic talents. She enrolled in Boston University and earned a Master’s degree in Arts Education. 

 

Julia Marchand currently lives in Alameda, CA where she splits her time between teaching, developing educational curriculum and her own active studio practice. She also continues to travel extensively with husband and two children. To date they have visited Thailand, Belize, Czech Republic, Hungary and the UK together with many more adventures planned for the future. 

 

 

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George Raftopoulos

George Raftopoulos

Synthétiser

July 5-August 24, 2019

 

 

GEORGE RAFTOPOULOS : Playing with gods.

Looking at a work by George Raftopoulos is about playing with gods. Whether they be a doctrine, cultural icon or the things we hold dear. George takes our everyday values and reinvents them via works that surprise, shock but ultimately reward the viewer.

George’s art critiques the Utopia we have settled for.  Modernity has become a “bubble land” which we participate in without resistance. We make ourselves comfortable by playing along with everyone else.  But George likes to play differently. He illustrates the gods that we have used to mediate our privilege, and breaks them down. Whether they be an embodiment of male false hood in a Ken doll or Selfie images. The result is the revelation of a society in search of the individual. This is also evident in today’s art world which has become a cess pit of self-reflective marketing. Outrage and shock are produced at touch of a button for audiences who will nod their heads at anything. Frequently seen as cultural cache, George corrupts this notion of art. Grabbing a veritable stockpile of socialephemera, he reengineers it in such a way that in a moment it is everything. The audience can’t grab it, before it is gone. You have to look at it again, again and again. A Raftopoulos painting is an act of play written large. We are reminded that the world we think we have created isn’t actually our own work; it’s a carefully orchestrated mass of bullshit.

Raftopoulos asks us to reject our current cultural norms by using those tropes against us. His works are a production run of cut and paste iconography; however, these are not souvenirs from the market stall but a different universe entirely. Whether it is a Barbie doll or Caravaggio painting everything is challenged and turned into a talking point. You smile and ask yourself “who buys this stuff?”, and then you put something in the shopping cart.  The works are for questioners and daydreamers, audiences that choose to unpick a narrative rather than follow a corporate line. The subjects in the painting are physically accumulated, sometimes created from scratch, sometimes a copy of something now unrecognisable. These are individuals with literally layers of detail making them function.  In an era of speed and generality, George’s work is about time and craftsmanship. Nuanced histories are evoked through tiny brush strokes, neon colors and bold text. This isn’t about supporting a trend but dissecting a broader world view.

Ignoring benevolent community guidelines or hipster smugness, George asks us to feel small and search for our own identity. He lacks the grandiose self-awareness so beloved by the smashed avocado and latte crowd. These images move from delicate and beautiful to painful and sinister. With a lesser artist, the more difficult works in the Raftopoulos catalogue might get passed by.  But George sustains the viewer, via his control of color, texture and script. The audience is left feeling empowered rather than rudderless. I am reminded of being on a highway, following it like a journeyman. The images blur around me with a slogan catching my eye. It could be advertising, a warning or both.  Are the subjects that exist in George’s art ghosts on the horizon or neighbors in the rear view mirror? Looking deeper through the neon paint and Indian linen the effect is of a life moving through space. Time blurs the line between the subject and you. Whether seen up close or viewed in the distance the figures that inhabit the frame become portraits. Importantly they are not of royalty or select cultural stereotypes. They are of me, perhaps not literally but definitely me in spirit. That’s George the jester’s key joke. A healthy reminder that time is too short to live in someone else's reality. We should play more and be the gods of our own.

PLAYING 4 my friend G Raft

Playing is the most subversive act anyone can commit.

To be the trickster. A total disregard for the suit unless you are an observer at a nudist colony.

Bend and twist the map to find something of yourself.

To take outrageous fortune and slingshot it back at your enemy, all whilst riding a unicycle.

It is your origin story.

Playing is the choice between the reality you have and the reality you want to be.

It is kindness in cruelty. Love in anger. Tears in joy.

Playing is never an absolute. It is the path to endless possibilities, brilliant grandeur and unbridled misery.

It is one of the hardest skills to master. That's why we give up on childhood.

Playing is more than a game. It is shameful, forbidden, hidden.

It is not being the same. It is isolation and indifference.

Playing is being brave, ephemeral and momentous.

Most of the time it cannot stop injustice, cure cancer or make you more attractive to the opposite sex. But some of the time it does.

Our nature is to play with our nature. So do it before you go blind.

© John Burns 2019