January 27, 2010
Galleries around the globe, particularly those of a smaller variety, are delving into mixed media and graphic art in a big way. Channeling modes of illustration, street art, graphic design, and animation, New Faces opened last week at Recoat in Glasgow, Scotland. This show explores the territory of character design, which is, in case you aren’t familiar, exactly what it sounds like. Amy Whitten, director of Recoat and one of the curators of the show elaborated, “Character design has become a genre all of its own. Some designers base their entire career around it, developing characters for advertising, animation, films, comics etc. For others it is just an obvious expression of their ideas and they use the characters they design to show viewers their comments on society and humanity.”
The seven artists featured –Andrew Rae, Elph, Jon Macnair, Conzo, FiST, Syrkus and Theory One– are united by a tendency for quirky characters starring in their work. Some of them are old hands in the UK and design world, while others (Conzo just graduated from art school and Macnair is a first timer in the UK) are new to the scene. The walls of the gallery are filled with a cast of characters, and ranges from a collaborative mural to various retrofitted photos, original prints and figurines.
Some of the work seems heavily influenced by 90’s Nickelodeon. But character design and quite a bit of street art draws heavily from the stylized look of folk art, like the vaguely Bolshevik style of street and graphic artists such as Barry McGee and Thomas Campbell. In fact, Elph cites a “Bulgarian folk tradition called Kukeri, where people dress up in scary costumes and rid the villages of evil spirits by dancing and making lots of noise” as the inspiration for his particular contributions.
New Faces is on view until February 21 at
323 North Woodside Road